If you’ve been enjoying life and staying offline, you may have missed Ben Armstrong, aka “BitBoy,” ranting like a maniac for several minutes about cryptocurrency regulation and influencers. But don’t worry, here it is in all its glory:
And here’s the diatribe diluted to its most interesting moments:
“You know what? We are tired of people that look like this guy [Ryan Sean Adams, a podcaster] trying to run stuff. I don’t represent the people? The f*ck I don’t! I’m the one who does! It’s me! I’m the one out here putting the work in, behind the scenes, trying to save crypto, while these devils, Sam Bankman-Fried [founder and CEO of FTX], Brian Armstrong [co-founder and CEO of Coinbase], they’re trying to permanently ruin it! This is not about money for me! … I’m here, fighting for you!”
“Only the suits know what to do! Only the suits! Only the people who have all the money, they’re going to determine what happens! No!”
“Are you not tired of this technocracy? I hope you are, cause I am!… You guys are gonna see that we’re the ones who care, we’re the ones who are trying to give the people a say in what happens, not the elite!”
“Sam Bankman-Fried is the devil! He is the devil in crypto! … This guy is literally trying to ruin crypto permanently in the United States!”
As usual, the crypto industry has played itself, locked in place somewhere between a billionaire exchange owner and a YouTube influencer who’s been called out for scamming his own followers, trying to sway regulators and politicians.
Separating reality from fiction
A clear thread runs through the BitBoy video: there’s an elite class, dictating poorly thought-out reforms and exclusionary policies, and there’s BitBoy’s crew. The message is equally clear: Be with BitBoy.
What Armstrong is referring to is Sam Bankman-Fried’s leaked proposition for the regulation of DeFi. The proposal has received widespread backlash within the cryptocurrency community, with many either asking for SBF to reconsider his suggestions or scrap the proposal altogether.
SBF has, apparently, taken people’s concerns to heart. Time will tell what this means in reality.
But Armstrong’s hyperbole — from calling specific individuals devils to claiming anyone could “ruin crypto permanently” — sets the tone for the discourse.
The unfortunate reality is that all of these things can be true at once:
- SBF primarily cares about regulation and political maneuvering so that his businesses, FTX and Alameda Research, remain successful.
- Ben Armstrong is a charlatan who uses his relatability to shill failed cryptocurrency projects.
- Ben Armstrong has an affiliate link on his website and in his videos for FTX-competitor Binance.
- Neither of these individuals wants what’s best for the people who follow them and listen to their every word. They care almost exclusively about their bottom lines.
The accidental exposé
It’s important to note that Armstrong quotes a Ryan Sean Adams tweet at the beginning of his tirade — a tweet that explicitly begs legislators not to listen to people like Ben Armstrong. While it’s doubtful any politicians watch the BitBoy YouTube channel, they’re certainly active on crypto Twitter.
And… Armstrong went viral.
The politicians (or at least their social media teams) were instantly made aware of someone who got rich off the backs of his subscribers, running a “BitLab Academy,” and publishing a book on how to get into cryptocurrency.
In the other corner is Bankman-Fried, who built his fortune on a legally questionable arbitrage trade and openly called DeFi — more or less — a Ponzi scheme when chatting on OddLots with Matt Levine. While his estimated net worth of almost $11 billion is impressive, the idea that he’s putting the everyman before the profitability of his companies is naive, at best.
Stuck in the middle
So where does this leave everyone else? It’s safe to assume that most individuals who either work or play in the crypto industry would prefer that neither Armstrong or SBF attempt to dictate what policies guide regulation and legislation.
That doesn’t seem to be a viable option, though, as both are stepping up lobbying efforts in the US — along with Coinbase CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong.
Many of those who were loudest and the most meme-able have either disappeared — like Su Zhu, Kyle Davies, and Do Kwon — or found themselves in hot water boiling so hard they can’t speak, like Alex Mashinsky from Celsius. Few voices are boisterous enough after the crash and burn of speculative asset prices to confidently sway legislators’ opinions.
People will claim that cryptocurrency is decentralized and no one can represent it, but in the real world, in Washington DC, in the halls of the Capitol, there are people lobbying for very specific legislation to guide the principles of the industry, and two of the loudest just made fools of themselves.