The Best Crypto Longreads of 2018
12.25.2018

Journalism about blockchain and cryptocurrency generally leaves much to be desired—a situation that we here at BREAKER are working hard to correct. Still, 2018 had its fair share of great pieces about the space. Here are 14 of our favorite longform stories from other outlets worthy of adding to your Pocket queue:

The Prophets of Cryptocurrency Survey the Boom and Bust
By Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker (October 22)
There’s perhaps no better place to start than this masterful examination of the current crypto scene. Paumgarten’s descriptions of Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin (“[his] vivid blue eyes, which, on the rare occasions when he allows them to meet yours, convey a depth and warmth that you don’t expect, in light of the flat, robotic cadence and tone of his speech”) are perfection.

Inside the Crypto World’s Biggest Scandal
By Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Wired (June 19)
A high-drama tale of tech-world infighting, centering on the conflict between a married couple—Arthur and Kathleen Breitman, the inventors of cryptocurrency Tezos—and Johann Gevers, the former president of the Tezos Foundation.

A Sidelined Wall Street Legend Bets on Bitcoin
By Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker (April 16)
Novelist Shteyngart gets enviable access to ex-hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, accompanying the self-described “Forrest Gump of bitcoin” to his 30th class reunion at Princeton.

Brock Pierce: The Hippie King of Cryptocurrency
By Neil Strauss, Rolling Stone (July 26)
Bitcoin billionaire Brock Pierce gets the rock-star treatment from Rolling Stone. A nuanced, ultimately sympathetic portrait of one of crypto’s most charismatic and controversial figures.

Two Identities, One Man: The Story of $800 Million Hedge Fund Fraudster Boaz Manor Who Led the Alleged $31 Million Blockchain Terminal ICO
By Frank Chaparro, The Block (December 10)
He assumed a new name, grew a beard, and dyed his hair red, but Shaun MacDonald was still found out in the end. Read about the fallout from this excellent investigative piece here.

Mt. Gox and the Surprising Redemption of Bitcoin’s Biggest Villain
By Jen Wieczner, Fortune (April 19)
Fortune catches up with the infamous Mark Karpelès, former CEO of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, in Tokyo: “[He] notes that it’s been a few months since he’s received any death threats—‘a new record.’”

Edward Snowden Explains Blockchain to His Lawyer—and the Rest of Us
By Edward Snowden and Ben Wizner, McSweeney’s/ACLU Blog (November 20)
Still not sure what this blockchain thing is? This joyously entertaining chat between whistleblower Snowden and the ACLU’s Wizner—a highlight from McSweeney’s excellent The End of Trust issue—should set you straight.

This Is What Happens When Bitcoin Miners Take Over Your Town
By Paul Roberts, Politico Magazine (March 9)
A compelling, on-the-ground report from the Mid-Columbia Basin, three hours east of Seattle, where “the virtual realm of cryptocurrency is colliding with the real world of megawatts and real estate.”

He Fled a Prison in Iceland. Now It’s Good to Be Back.
By Dave Segal, The New York Times (May 4)
This piece—about how an Icelandic man implicated in a $2 million bitcoin-mining computer heist escaped prison—isn’t all that long a read, but it merits inclusion for this amazing detail: In Iceland it’s not illegal to break out of jail!

How Much for That Pepe? Scenes From the First Rare Digital Art Auction
By Daniel Penny, The Paris Review (January 23)
and
What Happens When the Art World and Cryptocurrency Collide?
By Jessica Klein, The Outline (June 24)
Lots of people are excited about what blockchain means for the art world. These two pieces, one by BREAKER’s own Jessica Klein, will give you a good overview of this fledgling relationship.

From Crimefighter to ‘Crypto’: Meet the Woman in Charge of Venture Capital’s Biggest Gamble
By Robert Hackett, Fortune (September 28)
This well-wrought profile charts Kathryn Haun’s career transformation, from esteemed federal prosecutor of bitcoin-related crimes to high-profile partner at crypto-backing VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

The Unbelievable Tale of a Fake Hitman, a Kill List, a Darknet Vigilante… and a Murder
By Gian Volpicelli, Wired UK (December 4)
“There are no hitmen in this story,” writes Volpicelli. “There are no sharply dressed assassins screwing silencers on to their Glocks, no operatives assigned, nor capos directing them.” Trust us and read it anyway.

Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not
By Nellie Bowles, The New York Times (January 13)
The cryptocurrency bull market seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Return to the heady, FOMO-fueled days of early 2018 with this deliciously detailed look at San Francisco’s crypto fantasia.