In First Interview Since Arrest, Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Appeals To Bitcoin Users

Ross Ulbricht, founder of infamous bitcoin-based darknet marketplace Silk Road, called Bitcoin Magazine from prison to appeal for freedom.

Speaking publicly for the first time since a 2013 arrest for his role in creating and managing bitcoin-based online marketplace Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht described his original intentions for the darknet site and appealed to the Bitcoin community to continue advocating for freedom.

“I’ve spent the last eight years watching Bitcoin grow up from in here,” Ulbricht said in a phone interview with Bitcoin Magazine from a maximum security federal prison, which premiered at the Bitcoin 2021 conference. “I’ve seen incredible innovation. I’ve seen inspiring courage. We didn’t know how things would turn out for Bitcoin back in the beginning, but over the years, I’ve been continually impressed with what you’ve accomplished… We are transforming the global economy. We have brought a taste of freedom and equality to far corners of the world. I know we can transform criminal justice, too.”

Ulbricht launched Silk Road in 2011, when he was 26, and it quickly became the most significant real-world use case for the pseudonymous, censorship-resistant attributes of the recently-launched Bitcoin project. In 2015 he was convicted of money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic illicit items and received a double life sentence plus forty years in prison.

During the call, he explained that he had launched Silk Road without an understanding of how popular it would be or how exactly it would be used, but with a desire to leverage the unique properties of Bitcoin.

“I thought with Bitcoin, I could try and do something that actually makes a difference… Back then, I was impatient,” he said. “I rushed ahead with my first idea, which was Silk Road… That’s a 26-year-old who thinks he has to save the world before someone beats him to it. I had no idea Silk Road would work, but now we all know it caught on. It was used to sell drugs, and now I’m in prison.”

He underscored the fact that he faces a lifetime in prison because he had tried to enable a marketplace that sought to operate outside of mainstream regulation.

“The irony is that I made Silk Road in the first place because I thought I was furthering the things I cared about: Freedom, privacy, equality,” Ulbricht said. “But by making Silk Road, I wound up in a place where those things don’t exist.”

Ulbricht’s family and friends have maintained the Free Ross project in an effort to garner support for a reduction in his sentence. During the call, Ulbricht appealed to the Bitcoin community to realize the freedom-enhancing qualities of the technology by helping cases like his own.

“Bitcoin is strong,” Ulbricht said. “Bitcoin is powerful. We are powerful. And our work is not over. It’s time to wake up, it’s time to take the next step.”


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The Fed is Bitcoin’s Biggest Booster, Say The Winklevoss Twins

Speaking to Anthony Pompliano during the 2021 Bitcoin conference, the Gemini founders, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss noted that they are still BTC hodlers and pledged to hold at least until the price reaches $500,000. Additionally, they called the US dollar the “ultimately shitcoin.”

  • The Winklevoss twins are among the most famous early BTC adopters, having purchased sizeable amounts in 2012. During the conference, the brothers said they firstly bought when the asset’s price was around $100-$130 – which is “the value of some shitcoins today.”
  • Despite seeing the USD value of their holdings substantially appreciating since then, they don’t plan to dispose of their portions anytime soon. In fact, they doubled down on their recent thesis that BTC will eventually reach $500,000 per coin.
  • At that point, though, they believe it won’t be necessary to sell any coins for fiat currency as they wouldn’t be relevant.
  • They noted that bitcoin is prone to such an increase because it’s the better version of gold and will eventually reach the precious metal in terms of market cap, which is considered to be well above $10 trillion.
  • They outlined the COVID-19 pandemic and the governments’ actions as the main reason why Wall Street and other institutions came into the Bitcoin space. They called the US dollar “the ultimately shitcoin” and said the Fed is Bitcoin’s biggest booster.
  • Similarly to Max Keiser, the Winklevoss brothers highlighted the difference between the 2021 BTC conference with over 10,000 in attendance, while during their first one in 2013, there were “roughly a few dozen people.”


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Rise of ‘Artificial Currencies’ Could Threaten Stability of Financial System, Says European Central Bank

Despite being years away from any launch of its own digital currency, the European Central Bank (ECB) says governments that fall behind on the digital asset craze may experience threats to their financial systems.

In a report about the international role of the euro, researchers highlight the importance of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) versus “artificial currencies” that are being built by tech giants such as Facebook.



“Finally, attention should be paid to the risks to stability that might arise if a central bank does not offer a digital currency. One concern could be a situation in which domestic and cross-border payments are dominated by non-domestic providers, including foreign tech giants potentially offering artificial currencies in the future.

Not only could this threaten the stability of the financial system, but individuals and merchants alike would be vulnerable to a small number of dominant providers with strong market power, and the ability of central banks to fulfil their monetary policy mandate and role as lender of last resort would be affected. Issuing a CBDC would help to maintain the autonomy of domestic payment systems and the international use of a currency in a digital world.”

The report suggests that a digital version of the euro bundled with complementary services may be a way to compete with big tech firms for payment products and services.

“A CBDC could facilitate the digitalization of information exchanges in payments through e-invoices, e-receipts, e-identity, and e-signature, allowing intermediaries to offer services with higher value-added and technological content at lower cost.”

The potential digital euro could also enhance current cross-border payment infrastructures, helping global e-commerce.

“Low transaction costs and bundling effects could increase its appeal for invoicing cross-border transactions – as a means of payment and as a unit to settle current transactions.”

However, the European Central Bank is not in a rush. The ECB’s president Christine Lagarde has stated that, if indeed the digital euro gets the green light, she expects the development phase to last for years.

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Ethereum options data shows traders’ mixed opinions on ETH’s future

After reviewing Ether (ETH) options for June 25, one might think that traders either became overly optimistic or ultra-bearish. Currently, there are large bets for prices below $1,000 while others aim for $3,800 and higher.

A recent report from Coinshares shows that multiple crypto funds have begun seeing net inflows after weeks of record outflows. The report notes that Ether vehicles saw a total of $47 million in inflows, bringing its market dominance up to 27%.

DeFi growth supports higher Ether prices

Another positive factor is that DeFi protocols maintain a $48 billion total value locked (TVL) even though the sector took a substantial hit after the recent Ether price crash.

Ethereum network net value locked on smart contracts. Source: DeBank

The 57% increase over the past three months should please even the most optimistic investors, but crypto traders notoriously exaggerate whatever situation took place over the most recent weeks. Therefore, as Ether dropped from the $4,380 all-time high on May 12, traders quickly scrambled to set up protective puts down to $400.

On the other hand, the much-anticipated transition to a proof-of-stake consensus model could be the root of the positive expectations. The EIP-1559 improvement proposal set for next month is another significant stepping stone, and some traders have price targets ranging from $4,000 to $10,000.

June 25 Bitcoin options open interest. Source: Bybt

There are currently 623,800 Ether option contracts expiring on June 25, totaling a $1.75 billion open interest. The neutral-to-bullish call (buy) options are currently 29% more represented, although this call-to-put ratio uses an equal weight for every strike regardless of its probabilities.

Bears spent over $1 million building their positions

The ultra-bearish put (sell) options at $1,600 and lower amount to 170,000 Ether contracts, amounting to a $476 million open interest. However, considering the roughly three weeks left until the June 25 expiry, those contracts are trading below $32 each. The market value for those bearish options stands at $1.2 million.

On the other hand, bulls likely have exaggerated by buying call options at $3,800 and higher. These 160,000 Ether contracts amount to a $450 million open interest but considering that their current face value is below $80 each, their market value stands at $5 million.

Therefore, bulls spent more money setting up their position despite the similar open interest placed on both sides.

These out-of-the-money options are an excellent way for options sellers to cash in the premium in advance. The same methodology can be applied for $2,100 put options and $3,800 call options.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.