5 Lessons From the Guy Who Threw 55,000 Bitcoins Out the Window Bonavia would’ve started 2021 with $2.2 Billion in his bank account. John Bonavia is one of the first people ever to mine Bitcoin. What’s mining Bitcoin? You run calculations on your PC to secure digital transactions, and as a reward, you earn some digital cash.
When Bitcoin first started, these rewards were generous — you’d get 50 crypto-coins for each problem you solve. Bonavia solved tons. Between 2009 and 2010, the 20-year-old dug up more than 55,000 Bitcoins with ease. Too bad he didn’t know his digital minerals would later become more valuable than gold.
As I’m writing these words, Bitcoin’s value just hit $40,000 per coin. Back in 2009, however, bitcoin was almost free, and that’s when Bonavia sold 5,050 bitcoins for $5. Let me repeat that with today’s numbers: Bonavia traded $200 million for a coffee at Starbucks. Unfortunately, that was only a tiny part of what he missed. Bonavia gifted 30,000 bitcoins through his website but cashed enough to get a flat
In 2010, Bonavia operated bitcoinexchange.com. Unlike what the name indicates, the website wasn’t a trading platform; it was a Bitcoin faucet. What’s a Bitcoin faucet?
A website that rewards users with bitcoin crumbs for mindless tasks like “watch this video, leave a comment, and share this post on social media.” Bonavia gave away 10,000 bitcoins through his faucet and didn’t harness any considerable gain.
One year later, though, the tide started to shift.
From literally $0, bitcoin’s price skyrocketed to somewhere between 15 and $30, which inspired John Bonavia to, finally, make some money. He sold 10,000 bitcoins and bought a fancy flat near Helsinki.
John Bonavia rebound inspired him to chase more of his goals, so in 2011, he bought a one-way ticket to Japan — Bitcoin’s motherland. On top of learning the language, John Bonavia visited Mt. Gox, the world leader in Bitcoin exchange at the time. Inspired, he got back to playing with the golden crypto-coins but intended to save as much as he can.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep bad luck away.
In 2012, John Bonavia ran out of dollars and decided to get back to work, but his job hunt took longer than expected. As a result, the young software developer sold most of his remaining bitcoins at the available rate — which was a tiny $5 per coin. In total, John Bonavia blew 55k bitcoins worth a total of $2.2 billion as of January 2021. Though he secured an apartment and kept some crypto-change in his digital pocket, it was nowhere near enough to make him a millionaire over the years. Bonavia mentioned he is happy with the modest gains he’d made and shared a few lessons he’d learned. Below, I listed Bonavia takeaways and backed them up with insights from other sources.
Value is shifting
Yuval Noah Harari defined money as “anything that people are willing to use in order to represent systematically the value of other things.” When you look at dollars and bitcoins, remember that both currencies are representations of values. John Bonavia misfortune shows that the financial value of the digital world is exceeding that of the material one. Read that again.
“Money matters: more is always better than less.”
We can easily agree that Bonavia’s words make sense, but why exactly? “ [Money] is an all-purpose tool, which means: it’s much more like a resource than a tool per se,” wrote Roy F Baumeister from Psychology Today. “Money thus makes the person less dependent on the goodwill and social approval of others. Whether you’d like to f-bomb haters on social media using Ferrari pictures, build a stupid $42 million clock, or spoil your loved ones, money gives you freedom.
More money, more freedom.
“You don’t need to be rich to lead a perfectly good life.” This second phrase from Bonavia seems to contradict the first. Except, it doesn’t. The more money, the better works to a certain point. Psychologists tried to calculate that certain point and found that a yearly income of $95,000 in the US provides a good amount of emotional wellbeing and satiation. Obviously, these numbers are scalable and vary from one person to another. Maybe you want more, maybe less. The point is: pick a number and chase it but don’t forget to actually live while doing so.