When Real Vision was founded by Raoul Pal, Grant Williams, Daniel Horner, and Remi Tetot in 2014, it promised high-quality educational content on the worlds of finance and business.
At that time, it was one of the few financial media outlets to hold in-depth interviews with significant personalities. Indeed, it featured meetings with businesspeople including legendary hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, private-fund manager Anthony Deden, construction magnate Jeff Greene, and the infamous short-seller Marc Cohodes.
Real Vision had a truly unique product. Rarely had the public been able to see these finance and business gurus speak at such length and in such detail about their histories, methods, and secrets. Then something changed.
In 2019, Grant Williams, who had produced some of Real Vision’s most spectacular interviews, left. And while the educational and historical content on Real Vision remained, gradually the Bitcoin and crypto-focused content started to ramp up. Names such as Dan Tapiero, Dan Morehead of Pantera Capital, and even Mike Novogratz became ever more frequent.
Real Vision replaced reasoned debate with blind PR
Real Vision was starting to project a very clear pro-Bitcoin stance and most of its speakers actually had interesting things to say about it. It was the era of negative interest rates, where the safe and stable yield in treasuries and bonds had waned and, in many cases, even disappeared altogether.
There was also a genuine discussion about the potential benefits of gold and bitcoin. Indeed, gold had bottomed and entered a steady bull market that led it to cross the $2,000 mark the following year.
However, while Real Vision’s better bitcoin discussions were a genuine effort to uncover a monetary alternative to gold, at worst, they were nothing more than PR for a couple of bitcoin and crypto investors who were leading the bitcoin charge.
And eventually, this became the prevalent approach. Fronted mainly by Pal, the outlet’s Bitcoin and crypto content turned into one big promotional exercise. Indeed, in 2020, Pal launched Real Vision’s dedicated crypto section, sponsored by BlockFi and Silvergate. At the time, Pal urged listeners to take part in the crypto-led “digital revolution,” however, both of these backers have since gone bankrupt.
As Real Vision’s crypto output increased, so did the crypto evangelism. Despite the occasional debate with a crypto-skeptic, often featuring the successful fund manager, Mike Green, the line between discussion and outright promotion was becoming increasingly blurred as investors were given a platform to talk about and promote their products and coins.
Pal didn’t hide the fact that he was buying various crypto tokens either, although his public disclosures were rather sporadic and seemingly arbitrary. For example, he admitted to owning Doge in August 2021 (it subsequently hit the skids) and he’s well-remembered for his shilling of Terra-Luna, which he described as “risk-free” in November of the following year. Of course, Terra/Luna imploded and went to zero shortly after.
These events perhaps helped people to realize that Pal wasn’t discussing and analyzing crypto in any meaningful or objective way, but was simply papering over its risks and murkier aspects. Pal claimed that he was never paid to give access to any particular crypto product or token on his platform, but Marc Cohodes accused him of giving a free ride to many in the space, and intentionally failing to discuss the negative aspects of the industry.
Cohodes also implied that Pal didn’t allow him to debate Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) because he was aware it would have been negative. Today, Cohodes wants Pal to come clean about this type of non-critical crypto coverage.
Unfortunately, it appears that Pal is still on the same bullish-everything-crypto-script. His foreword in the book by well-known grifter and crypto shiller, BitBoy, is pure crypto evangelism. He hasn’t let go of buying and promoting less-than-buoyant digital coins either. About Solana (one of his latest investments) he says, “What if everyone is wrong?”
He also says there’s no reason why Ethereum shouldn’t be at $10,000 and, via Real Vision, is actively promoting the benefits of Chiliz.
Pal should have done much better
There are many lessons we can take from Real Vision but the biggest is probably that everyone is better off if crypto-media is critical of industry and market players. Illicit activity in the space has hurt many people with many losing all their money.
Crypto can be a dangerous game, regulation is still lacking, and enforcement is in its early innings. As such, crypto media has a responsibility to educate and explain all the risks and negative aspects of a particular product instead of promoting it blindly.
It’s likely that, had there been more investigative work by journalists on certain aspects of the industry, far fewer people would have been hurt. This is also likely why so many people today are angry at Pal. Having, at one point, been one of the foremost and most popular crypto journalists in the space, Pal could have done much more instead of simply looking the other way.