The Rise and Fall of the Bitcoin Prince | Charlie Shrem Crypto Story

We were flying home from Amsterdam it was Sunday night around 7:00 when we Landed we got off the plane we went to Custom at that moment the guy was taking A little bit extra long time to St my Passport and as he was doing that 10 Agent surrounded Me don't move put your hands on don't Move your hands I felt like it was an Army this wasn't your New York police Officer here these were like federal Agents well yeah I said what's going on They said please come with us you're Under arrest go over to the baggage Claim and get Charlie's Bags what's going on uh well he's been Arrested was arrested at the airport Charlie Shram 24 years old arrested Today Shram ran a site that enabled People to transfer money from Bitcoin to Cash via his company called bit instant I was on the cover of Bloomberg magn Magazine I was on the cover of Forbes on The cover of their financial times I had A big spread of my picture of me Throwing gold coins in the air being Called the Bitcoin prince in Bloomberg Business week there were no other people That I had to share the playing field With I was the only One you all know the legendary and wild Tale of Charlie shrem right this dude Was a real Pioneer in the early days of

Bit coin quickly becoming a Bitcoin Millionaire but ended up behind bars at The ripe age of 24 and then got free and Became an investor cointelegraph was on This roller coaster from the get-go Tracking every Twist and Turn but how Did Charlie end up in this mess did a Fairy swoop in wave her wand and Grant Him his very own Bitcoin Empire only for It all to turn into a pumpkin after Midnight nah it's not even close we got Charlie to spill the beans on something He's never shared before his untold Story and let me tell you what we heard Was mind-blowing so get comfy folks cuz This tale is anything but Boring well well well look what we have Here Charlie shrem I've heard you're Quite a money Enthusiast when did you Start raking in the big bucks so the First time I earned Money my cousin knew I can do some Website stuff and said hey like I have Someone who can build the website I have This really good idea he would tell me Any anything extra Goods they would have He'd want to like sell them on this Website we'd like sell things like for Free with just $5 shipping lights and Computer routers and audio equipment and A mug or shoes toothbrushes electric Toothbrushes Shavers and it was called Daily And we hired Jewish people Muslims and

You had black people from canari and Brooklyn and you had me and my cousin Joey who who looked very like kind of White we had everyone and we get like Maybe 500 to 2500 orders my job every Day because it was a small business was Not only to maintain the website and to Do these like funny videos where I would Sell the product the next day but then I Print the shipping labels on a printer And I would help the guys put shipping Labels on them and ship it Out at our last session you mentioned Feeling pressure from your parents has Our attitude changed since you started Earning money Around the same time that happened my Parents backed off because I started to Gain a lot more confidence in the real World has anything else Changed something changed but what Changed was weed was was Cannabis Everyone went to sleep and I had the Basement to myself I could relax and and I would stay awake that's when around The same time that I got my first Computer at home and we got the 56k Modem where you can do dialup and AOL First came out America online and that Was when the first time that became like A big part of our Lives that's when all The Europeans were waking up and all the The different people on the forums it Was the most active at midnight 2: a.m.

3:00 a.m. so that's when I hung out Majority of people who conversed into Like message boards if you will did it Through these like Forum software and I Was a member of a lot of them especially The cyber security worlds why did you Enjoy spending time on online forums was It important to you it was really great Because on the internet people didn't Judge Me based on any other factors Other than what I was contributing to The conversation in that moment you Couldn't like see what these people look Like their pictures that they'd upload To the Forum and that's what they look Like hi Charlie yo Charlie hello Charlie Charlie so I started to have a lot of Friends there and my opinion was Appreciated on the internet very greatly People listen to me because on the Internet people respected you and Listened to you based on the Contributions that you were making hold On man when did you first hear about Bitcoin I remember I was like griping a Lot about PayPal and I was talking about How I was helping this charity raise Money and PayPal was freezing the Account and someone said you should Check out Bitcoin and I was like what The is Bitcoin no way dude that's pretty Cool and this was like 2010 maybe or Something we have the dollar Japan has

The Yen and the internet it has the Bitcoin yeah this online currency Officer offers a new way to use money But many aren't sold on the well Heather There's a reason we call it cold Hard Cash it's right here but going to be a Pain to send somewhere and some think That banks are too involved with cash Transactions and value well that's where Bitcoin comes in it's online Anonymous And constantly changing in value first I Didn't believe in Bitcoin I didn't even Read the white paper till like a long Time later I love playing around with Cool software that did unique things What were your first Steps first thing I did was is is I Registered for the Bitcoin forums the Day I registered was like 20 days after Satoshi's last post on the Bitcoin talk Forums was the day I registered and had My first post so did you immediately buy Into that crypto stuff Bitcoin as you Folks call it I still didn't believe in It until many years later but I was just Happy to be part of the community it was A software with a file when you download The software it's going to download the Whole Bitcoin blockchain to your Computer it was like well written little Shitty software it was just one very Small line of code it never overheated My computer either I can leave it Running and then it's once it catches up

It in real time Updates this big file on Your computer that's like 2 GB with all The other transactions and then I was Like wow I have the whole Ledger here And other people are having my ledger Too you can transact with these people Back and forth back and forth and like Everyone had their address and all of a Sudden you're part of this community of People around the world and I thought That was very unique it's it's a Decentralized system it's very easy to Grasp where did you meet Gareth I met this guy on the Bitcoin Forums Gareth and we were talking a Bunch and he had this good idea because He saw that buying Bitcoin was very Difficult that people that wanted to buy Bitcoin had to wire money to an exchange And buy large amounts of it and there Was no one really doing like just Selling to individual people Bitcoin and I said well Gareth what would it cost to Build that he's like well if you're Paying me I can do it for 1,000 bucks And I'm like well I'll send you 1,000 Bucks and he's like okay let's build it He was very smart and blunt and straight To the point and had this like weird Sense of humor that I kind of liked was It like sarcasm I could tell it was like Kind of Asbergers autistic but I grew up With a lot of people with mental health Issues it's very big in the community so

I'm very used to like being social with These people it's like I'm I'm better Friends with autistic kids How did you set up your company did you Sign any papers I don't think we ever Signed any document or anything till Much later but we were like 50/50 Partners from the start I think he like Publicly announced in the Forum thread Somewhere he's like attention everyone Charlie and I are now 50% business Partners in this new Venture called Fast Mountain Cox pay and when we launched it There were a lot of people who were Really excited for it so we very Instantly had a lot of business I never Thought it would become like a full-time Business or that we'd earn our livings Or lifetime or anything like that we Just very quickly it got very big I knew That the more money we had as a business The more money we would make cuz I knew My father put money that was given to me In my bar mitzvah when you're 13 years Old and then it's given to you when You're an adult to help you get started In life I had $8 or $9,000 in that Account and my father said no but then I Went to my mom which is what I always do And she said yes so my father had to Give me the money and then I used that Money to get going going and that's when Things got really crazy once I got that 10,000 we started to grow very quickly I

Still need to get it back then there was Mount goau the largest exchange how was Your business structured what was the Scheme buying Bitcoin on Mount gox in Involved wiring going sending a wire Transfer to Mark carella's personal bank Account and then he would manually add The money to your account would took About a week to get money credited once You are credited with dollars you can Buy Bitcoin so there were a lot of times We would wire money to mount gaau in Large amounts in advance and people Would then pay us in the United States And our software once it realized that We got paid in the United States would Buy Bitcoin and send it to the customer All right did you two do this alone Using your father's money you didn't Have any investors really so when we Started to grow bit instant Roger ve was Our first investor and he gave us $100,000 to continue growing and then One of the things Roger did was asked me To hire Eric Vorhees who didn't have a Job at the time and didn't have any Money and was just moving back from Dubai where he tried to become a real Estate agent there and couldn't be Successful did you hire him without any Previous work experience Eric's very Smart and he was also a kid like me and He hadn't found his way in the world and Then one day Eric and I set up a little

Booth in New York City at a New York Tech day which wasn't like an event to Raise money it was more just to show off Our company and see what other Businesses were in the area but then David walked by and I'm like oh I know You you're David AAR right or something Dr AAR is your dad so he's my dentist He's like yeah yeah yeah he walked by And he said oh we're looking to invest Some money in a new business show me What you got going on here and I showed Him what I had going on at the time he's Like I'll get you the million dollars so I was like sounds great Eric and I were Like working out of Eric's apartment we Were working out of a co-working space In New York City working out of my house And we were like all over Brooklyn and New York City and then David one day met The winlos twins on like a beach in Iiza so David was on his honeymoon Actually this was right when the social Network came out which was a big movie About creation of Facebook and Facebook Was like the only social network at the Time and Arie Hammer played the Winkle Boss twins so all of a sudden he sees Them walking on the beach and David's Really smart and there's no chairs to Sit like on the beach in a Visa at the Beach club so he took his wife and his Chairs and he said take my chair we're Leaving but before you leave my name is

David I'm an investor in New York City I Have to tell you about this Bitcoin Thing and he called me and he said Charlie explain Bitcoin to them and I Explained Bitcoin to them on speaker Phone with Eric and they said all right We're on vacation for a couple of weeks We'll call you when we get back to New York City Tyler and I were on vacation And uh um an in individual who's a Friend of a friend approached us and Said you know introduce himself said Hello and then you know we had a bit of A conversation about digital currency And then when we got back stateside he Sent some material over and I started Reading through it and I looked at Tyler And I said you know this is either Completely made up and kind of a pie in The sky idea or there's something really Big here whoa for real what' they do hit You up so I didn't hear from them for Like a month and then a month later they Called us up and we started talking About Bitcoin a lot we spent like a week At this point David forced us to get an Office so we got an office on 23rd Street in Broadway we split an office with a Broadway company so they were doing like Broadway shows plays and we were like Doing Bitcoin Financial company but we Were above Starbucks it was Awesome Cameron and Tyler would come to

The office and everything they came to The office a lot we really got to know Them one night when they met up with Eric and I on a Saturday night we went Parying with them all night and we got Really close with them and it was around That time that they decided to also Invest with David into the company and Did they invest Money and it became true they ended up Putting in a significant amount of money What did you know need more money it Always needed more money because we were Growing in transaction size so in a way That an ATM needs money to sit in the Machine all day out we needed money to Sit in the exchanges for a week cuz it Would take a week to top up again it was A cycle so we always needed seven or Eight times our daily transaction volume So we always needed more money how much Did they invest they invested hundreds Of thousands of dollars I think almost a Million dollars and then they lent the Company money another half a million Dollars too did you really really have a Big company we were the first Venture Back Bitcoin or crypto startup to ever Exist in the world we the first Bitcoin Company to ever raise money with the First tech crunch article about us but I Didn't realize the significance of that At the time I went online and I bought One Bitcoin last night really it's the

Future I don't know I didn't feel real Real's going to Change just Watch I started to spend a lot of time In the city and um started this Nightclub with some friends of mine EVR and this was the only place in the World at the time I think where you Could actually spend Bitcoin in like a Physical place so it wasn't just a Nightclub it was like a whole Bitcoin Experience and everyone from Roger V to The CEO of Peter Smith To Barry silbert from Genesis and great Scale to the winlos twins Fred Wilson From Union SP Ventures like everyone who Was anyone who was involved in Bitcoin Was at this place at least at one point Over the course of like the year and a Half of its Existence I ended up talking to this Girl a lot who worked there and because She was kind of like the managing things And running the show that she got Trained to um do all the Bitcoin Transaction wait was that Courtney did You meet her at a club did you ask her Out we got to start to know each other And everything but I was always afraid To ask her out and to tell her that I Liked her or whatever how did you two Meet our other mutual friends we always Spend a lot of time together they set us Up on a blind date we're the only ones

Who were at the club everyone else Wasn't there and we went out that whole Night together just us two actually Threw up on her cuz I drank too much Jameson and uh she cleaned up the whole Place a different bar so like everyone Was like what are you doing with this Guy but she stayed with me and Everything we started dating and we were Pretty serious very quickly was Courtney Also from a Jewish Family Courtney was The first non-jewish woman that I ever Dated I was spending less and less time In Jewish Brooklyn and more time with Courtney in the Bitcoin world at this Like fake apartment above the nightclub That wasn't even an apartment it was Like an old dentist office that we threw Some beds into the old medical rooms or Whatever wow that's significant how did Your parents react to this you mentioned They're very religious I never actually Told them they caught us talking one Time on the phone my mom overheard us Talking and then my mom had a nervous Breakdown and told me that if I dated This girl I was going to be kicked out Of the community and reminded me about The whole edict that was signed by my Grandfather and that you know the whole Situation that my family would be kicked Out from the community what about your Father my father was more sane about it Cuz my father probably had done the same

Thing when he was younger and knew that Maybe this was just a fleeting thing and It would be a phase that would pass I Promised them that I would not date Courtney anymore and of course I just Lied I didn't I I had no intention of Not dating her anymore did you have deep Conversations with your father before This Happened I don't remember having a lot Of real heart-to-heart conversations my Father was probably about like the birds And the bees stuff like that but he kind Of like asked me on a drive home one Time you know about all like sexual Situations Right and I said yeah yeah I know Everything and he's like all right good And that was kind of it but there was so Much about love and things like that That now as a 34-year-old I didn't know I missed out on so much learning I uh Had some conversations with my father But there were always very in the Religious context Torah and religious Judaism it was part of our daily lives We kept kosher Religiously tell me more about your Father my father was the in the Committee of the synagogue it's self Which included the rabbi and all the Other people I had some great rabbis Growing up like my Rabbi growing up of My small little synagogue in Brooklyn

He's the son-in-law of the chief Rabbi Of Israel and he right now himself is The chief Rabbi of England I can never Speak to these people again by the way Like I have no conversation in like over 10 or 12 years like I've been Excommunicated from the whole Jewish World you seem a bit sentimental were You always like that did you cry as a Child I cried a lot as a child I cried I Cried a lot as a Child I also lived in the basement but I Lived on my own down there so it was Very Okay anti-Semitism was such a big part Of our life growing up it was so Normalized for me to be bullied because I was the Jew kid on the train want to Take it there dirty Jew you know they Drop eggs on me and stuff like that but It was Brooklyn and everyone was Persecuted it was just like everyone Bullied everyone it was part of like the Way you grew Up hold on let's get back to the Religion were you being prepared to Become a rabbi I was definitely prepared To become like a rabbi 100% a lot of Family members and cousins and stuff Like that are rabbis in in Brooklyn and New Jersey and Israel and stuff like That right now so you wanted to become a Rabbi I never never wanted absolutely Not absolutely not no never I very early

On I started to realize that I wasn't Fit for the religious world and it Started to give me a lot of anxiety Those are the first instances of anxiety That I ever remember I see so that's why You wanted to break free I had dreams of Getting out I had dreams of not of Fitting in but also like getting out Very early on and so I realized the only Way to get out was through money Interesting so the money my parents are And were and still are even though I Haven't seen him in like 10 years very Imposing very like take over your life Like I needed to get out of that get out Of their yoke and maybe one day I could Like be an equal well how did you go About it it all led into a moment in September of 2013 it was the Jewish holiday I think It was rashash Shana or something and so At that holiday you had to be home Eating food and like being with the Family and praying for like 3 days Straight and I had no intention of like Being there and so I went to synagogue And I prayed really hard fake and then I Went to my very very very religious Uncle's house like 30 40 people there Young and old 90-year-old guy with the Beard who's like the old Rabbi to the 2-year-old kid and I'm like in the Middle of this 22-year-old successful Firstborn of the family so I'm

Considered like the leader of the tribe And I'm looking around and I'm like like Say I do not want this life I'm done if I have to spend one more meal like I Love them and I love the food and I love The family and I loved all that that Wasn't that it was just I didn't want to Live that life I was looked out at the Dining room table I saw my whole life in Front of me I saw like me as a kid and I Saw me as an old person I saw the upper Bounds and the lower bounds of my life So I said I'm want to go and and find my Own God and find my own religion and Figure it out for myself I already had The backbone of a community of Bitcoin I Already had this like family all over The world that I felt would support me No matter what happened little did I Know that a couple of months from now I Would have to put that to the test I Excused myself I told them I was sick I Wasn't feeling well they had no Suspicion I went back to my parents House packed up everything I could into A suitcase wrote my parents a Handwritten letter a handwritten letter Say what why like you're not even Allowed to write on on the religious Holiday but I said something like I Can't live this life I love you guys um You know I'll see you later I'm so short It was like one Page and that night when I finally came

Home my parents had like a nervous Breakdown and the apparently they had to Call the ambulance for my father and and Stuff like that it was really bad so You're saying you caused harm to your Parents' Health apparently they were Good the next day because they started Sending the Jewish Mafia after us Threatened to harm Courtney I know they Did it under like you know duress and They were so sad about me leaving that They were under like trauma themselves But they sent people to stake out our Apartment they never left they would Just be outside our apartment all the Time so I was like on lockdown for weeks Until they finally let up or I had to Have people like come and take me out They had people who were very successful And Wealthy who owned like big hotels in Manhattan like who would literally like Bring me up into their offices and sit Us in a chair this guy's a King And tell me you need to come back and You need to leave Courtney we're big Powerful Mighty people we own New York City we own the world I just laugh and I Was like go yourself you know like It's so stupid are you for real did you Tell them that I'm the Bitcoin Prince I'm going to do whatever I want I was on The cover of Bloomberg magazine I was on The cover of Forbes I was at top of the World and I was dating this beautiful

Girl who actually liked me before I was On top of the world but the reason I was In all those news papers and stuff was That bid instant was the only way to buy Bitcoin in a fast and easy way where you Can walk up to like your local grocery Store or your local bank or your local Whatever and buy Bitcoin we were in a Million locations around just the United States alone Tech crunch did a study and We were 30% of all of the transaction Volume on a given day on the Bitcoin Blockchain it was huge millions of Dollars a day yeah it was millions of Dollars a day I don't know how the Government will react to bitcoin but I Spend thousands of dollars on lawyers Every day just to make sure that I'm not Going to go to jail it's super Terrifying I mean I I don't want to go To jail uh and I don't I don't want to Become a martyr Either fight was still happening until My arrest happened What about your parents at this time you Know when you do something wrong you Expect your parents to just give you Unconditional love they thought I Deserved what was coming to me they were Excited to see me go to jail because They felt that I hurt them so Hard so it was like God was doing the Work they got more religious by that They like wow God helped us they brought

Charlie home I'm like oh my God like my My life is over I you're supposed to Care about my one thing is my happiness And I'm the completely opposite of that I'm Unhappy I was very impressed with myself About how I never judged anyone and Looking Back I Uh looking back I I was such like an of a kid before I got arrested In prison Really taught me the sense of family Real Family I


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