Corey Clippsten started issuing cryptocurrency market warnings in March. The Luna digital coin, as Mr. Clippsten tweeted, was a scam run by entrepreneur with “big vibes Elizabeth Holmes.” According to him, the new crypto bank Celsius Network poses a “massive explosion hazard.”
When those crypto projects collapsed a few weeks later, causing a crash that wiped out an estimated $1 trillion, Mr. Clippsten became a regular on news shows where he portrayed the industry as a swamp of hawkers and hypocrites. “Cryptocurrency is a scam,” he said last month.
But Mr. Clippsten differs from most crypto-haters in one important way: he runs a bitcoin company.
In the crypto world, Mr. Clippsten is known as a bitcoin maximalist or “maxi” — an avid evangelist who believes that bitcoin will change the financial system, even as scams permeate the rest of the crypto ecosystem. Maxis is only part of the crypto industry, but their ranks include influential figures such as Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and one of the early supporters of Bitcoin.
Maxes continued to buy bitcoin even after its price fell to an 18-month low of around $20,000 in June. (Bitcoin is just “for sale,” they say.) And as the market melted, they launched a public relations offensive to convince investors and lawmakers that Bitcoin was different from the thousands of other digital currencies that have gained traction in recent years. years. before collapsing this spring.
“The only future for a non-bitcoin cryptocurrency is to be swallowed up by banks and governments and become part of the existing system,” Clippsten, 44, said from his home in Los Angeles, where there was a decorative bitcoin sculpture. on the shelf behind him. “Bitcoin is actually out of the system.”
The debate fueled by maxis has turned into a battle for the future of crypto. The collapse shows how much the industry resembles the worst of the traditional financial system, an interconnected network of risky ventures and casino-like business practices. Maxis say they are trying to bring the cryptocurrency back to some of its original ideals at a pivotal moment as new regulatory scrutiny and growing consumer distrust pose an existential threat to the industry.
They also see an opportunity to take advantage of the recession. When Celsius crashed in June, Mr. Clippsten trumpeted a raise giving his former clients membership in his financial services company, Swan Bitcoin, which provides financial planning for bitcoin investors.