Thanks to my friend Dave in California for telling me about Peter Cohan’s article in Forbes (see Is Bitcoin An Investment Or A Cult? – Forbes) I loved his comment that Bitcoin is a “cult that is almost completely immune to logic”. In my early days with OS/2, we had a “cult” of supporters and users who evangelized the software around the world. Many people call Apple fans members of a cult. No question that the early pioneers of the Internet and the World Wide Web were considered part of a cult. At time cultists are called heretics.
CNNMoney’s Fortune published a story called Why You Should Embrace Your Company’s Heretics. The story accurately described my evangelism of the Internet, but I never thought of myself as a heretic. One fellow board member who read the story sent me a note saying he thought heretics were burned at the stake. Back in 2006, Polly LaBarre and Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company Magazine, wrote a book called Mavericks at Work where they described 50 “mavericks”. I was one of them, but had not yet been promoted or demoted (not sure which it would be) to “heretic”. I was labeled with the term “rebel” by Gary Hamel in his Waking Up IBM: How a Gang of Unlikely Rebels Transformed Big Blue that appeared in the Harvard Business Review in April 2001.
I do not know the people who envisioned and developed Bitcoin. I am sure they are heretics, rebels, and mavericks. Bitcoin may go the way of Napster, but I remain confident because grass roots technology efforts often succeed. Mr. Cohan is off base when he says the cult defies logic. He obviously does not understand the technical aspects of the Bitcoin distributed open source peer-to-peer network. Bitcoin is not a sure thing — OS/2 did not succeed. The Internet and the web have transformed the world. Apple is the most valuable company in the world. My observation is that, as Alan Meckler said, the Bitcoin “cult” has all the trappings of the web of 1995. The believers that the cult would crash and burn were those whose interests were threatened.