BREAKER’s 20 Best Stories of 2018
12.31.2018

BREAKER may only be a few months old, but we’ve had quite a year chronicling blockchain’s highs (New technology! Decentralization! Desert tweens!) and lows (Scams! Sexism! Bad stock photos!). Our coverage this year took us from a booze-filled New Orleans convention center to a vegan restaurant in Bali to a hellish Mediterranean cruise—and everywhere in between.

We’re delighted to share a look back at our favorite stories from the year: 

FEATURES

Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche, by Laurie Penny (Dec. 5)
Feminist writer Laurie Penny embarks on a cruise filled with wealthy crypto fanatics, who Penny finds by turns terrible, sympathetic, baffling, and terrifying. The cruise, which she describes as “the most unimaginative, boringly chauvinist take on techno-utopia I’ve ever been paid to have a terrible time at,” makes for a riveting backdrop—and our most popular story of the year.

Crypto for President 2020! Embracing Blockchain at the Libertarian Convention, by Mark Yarm (July 25)
What happens when you combine Libertarians, moonshine, and pub-style trivia? Senior staff writer Mark Yarm heads to the Big Easy to find out.

All In: The Hidden History of Poker and Crypto, by Morgen Peck (Oct. 4)
Bitcoin is like scripture. You find in it that which you seek,” writes veteran blockchain reporter Morgen Peck. So much has written about the anonymous creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. But Peck takes a different approach, tackling the unexplored connections between Nakamoto and poker.

Mr. Bitcoin Goes to Washington, by Brian Patrick Eha (Sept. 20)
It’s a cardinal rule: Where there is money, there are lobbyists. BREAKER treks to D.C. to see how crypto lobbyists are building relationships with legislators and regulators.

COLUMNS

Play Bitcoin: Remember It’s Just a Game, by JP Koning (Sept. 7)
“Rather than investing in bitcoin, let’s play bitcoin,” proposes JP Koning in his first column for BREAKER.

Blockchain in Paradise: Seeking Bliss With Bali’s Crypto-Nomads, by Jeff Wilser (July 16)
Writer-at-large Jeff Wilser heads to Bali for his first-ever blockchain adventure and befriends a group of crypto-obsessives who have given up their traditional 9-5s in favor of trading—ideally pool-side.

We Haven’t Learned From the Financial Crisis—Just Look at Crypto, by Angela Walch (Sept. 19)
From law professor and noted blockchain critic Angela Walch, six parallels between the current world of cryptocurrency and the economy ten years ago. “At core, all these similarities relate to the failure to appreciate—or a choice to disregard—risk.”

NEWS

We Asked Crypto News Outlets If They’d Take Money to Cover a Project. More Than Half Said Yes, by Corin Faife (Oct. 25)
BREAKER’s comprehensive investigation demonstrated just how pervasive pay-for-play tactics continue to be in blockchain coverage. Out of the 22 publications who definitively responded to our  inquiries, 12 said they would publish paid content without a “sponsored” post—a clear violation of journalistic ethics.

How Gab’s ICO Is Getting a Lift After the Pittsburgh Shooting, by Jessica Klein (Nov. 6)
Writer Jessica Klein reports on Gab’s continuing efforts to secure funding and find a crypto payment platform. The “free speech” social media platform was deplatformed following the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh temple in October. The shooter, Robert Bowers had recently posted a threatening anti-Semitic message on Gab.

Miracle or Mirage? The Plan for a Blockchain City in the Desert, by Brian Patrick Eha (Nov. 5)
This fall, Blockchains LLC CEO Jeffrey Berns announced that he was planning to build a “smart city” on a 67,000-acre plot in middle-of-nowhere Nevada. “I’m somebody who always dives headfirst into everything,” he tells Eha at the Ethereum conference Devcon in Prague, where he made the big announcement. “You go big or you go home.”

“Initiative Q” Is All of the Bad Parts of Crypto and None of the Good Ones, by David Z. Morris (Nov. 6)
In one of our most popular stories of the year, Morris explores exactly why he thinks the much-hyped project is “a really bad idea, at several levels.”

The Decentralized Web Explained (in Words You Can Understand), by Corin Faife (Nov. 27)
What will Web 3.0 offer us that Web 2.0 does not? Faife’s jargon-less explainer starts at square one explaining the promises, and challenges, of decentralization.

Blockchain’s Biggest Investor Conference Was Boring But Not Panicky, by David Z. Morris (Nov. 28)
If there was one takeaway from Tuesday’s Consensus: Invest conference, it was chairs, most of them empty.” Morris reports on what a major investor conference looks like in the middle of a bear market.

Q+As

John McAfee Is 73, Very Stoned, and Running for President, by Mark Yarm (Sept. 26)
John McAfee is a character. That much we knew before we got him on the phone, but this interview really does not disappoint. In it, McAfee expounds upon his presidential bid, his love for drugs, and a recent purported assassination attempt.

Kraken CEO Says SF Is Overrun with “Crack Zombies” Who Are “Effectively Wild Animals,” by Julia Herbst (Nov. 1)
Many tech leaders in San Francisco have weighed in on the city’s homelessness epidemic—especially in the run up to the midterm elections (and the vote on Prop C) this fall. Few have used language like “crack zombies” and “wild animals” to describe other human beings during an on-the-record interview.

Why Dilbert Creator Scott Adams is “Left of Bernie”—But Beloved by Trump Supporters, by Rob Dozier (Nov. 21)
Adams has emerged as something of a celebrity in conservative internet circles,” notes writer Rob Dozier. His far-ranging conversation with Dilbert’s creator covers everything from politics to blockchain to hypnosis.

CULTURE

Bitcoin Bodice Rippers Are Romance’s Most Sizzling New Subgenre, by Alison Fensterstock (Sept. 5)
Have women grown weary of the idea of sex with men who made their fortunes as soulless corporate bankers, philandering rock stars, or effete starchitects?” Alison Fensterstock asks. (Short answer: bitcoin billionaires—especially those with sexy charitable streaks—are as good as any other billionaire.)

Why Blockchain? Three Kinds of Fuck You Money, by Logan Hill (July 23)
HBO’s Silicon Valley offers three compelling answers to everyone’s most burning question: Why blockchain?

A Week on the Road with Blockchain Pop Star Imogen Heap, by Mark Yarm (Nov. 27)
Sometimes our job involves interviewing CEOs and attending packed conferences. Other times it requires calling a musician seven days in a row to hear about her adventures on tour.

What the Hell Is This Futuristic Desert Tween Talking About?, by Julia Herbst (Oct. 26)
Abandoned desert children in Mad Max-influenced attire can really teach us a lot about emergent technologies.