Charlie Shrem and the Ups and Downs of BitInstant

In his new book, Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money, Nathaniel Popper, examines the rise of cryptocurrency and the characters who have played their part bitcoin’s story so far.

In this excerpt, the New York Times reporter looks at the trials and tribulations of bitcoin exchange BitInstant before its ultimate demise.

digital gold cover

In June of 2014, things appeared to be going well for Charlie Shrem.

He was shopping for new, larger real estate for his company, BitInstant, and eventually settled on a well-appointed suite in an office tower not far from the company’s original offices in Manhattan. He had also recently managed to move out of his parents’ basement in Brooklyn. He was motivated to do this, in no small part, because he was afraid to tell his parents about his girlfriend, Courtney, who was a waitress at his favorite bar, EVR. Courtney was some ten years his senior and, more important, not Jewish – something that did not fly in the Syrian Jewish community that Charlie came from. Charlie and Courtney took a room in a big communal apartment above EVR, where

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