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The Group Of Students Who Received $100 Worth Of Bitcoin In 2014: Some Got Super Rich, Some Wasted On Sushi

If all recipients of this free bitcoin had let their crypto wallets sit idle, the amount then could have worth more than $44.1 million at today’s prices. However, some did not hold back.

Source: Getty Images

In 2014, Jeremy Rubin was a sophomore studying computer science and electrical engineering when he decided to give every MIT student a $100 worth of Bitcoin. Seven months later, thanks to half a million dollars in Bitcoin contributed by alumni and coin supporters, Rubin has done it. 3,108 MIT undergraduates received a “gift” from Rubin.

The MIT students received that “gift” when Bitcoin was not really popular and was being traded at around $336. If all recipients of these free Bitcoin still hold them, it could be worth more than $44.1 million at today’s prices. However, some people did not hold up.

Researchers who follow the project — including Christian Catalini, now a co-creator of the Facebook-initiated Diem stablecoin project — say 1 in 10 of them make money in the first two weeks. At the end of the trial in 2017, 1 in 4 people had withdrawn. The group then stopped tracking.

Van Phu, a software engineer and co-founder of cryptocurrency trading brokerage Floating Point Group, still regrets spending a lot of Bitcoin to buy sushi. ” One of the worst things and one of the best things at MIT is this restaurant called Thelonious Monkfish. I spent a lot of my crypto buying sushi,” he said.

Source: CNBC

Meanwhile, quantitative trader Sam Trabucco, who also participated in the experiment, estimates that half of the people he knows have spent the money they receive on fish. He said: “It was the only restaurant in Cambridge that was accepting bitcoin at the time, and it was a pretty popular spot.” Since then, the restaurant has changed its name and discontinued its payment policy.

Rubin went through a legal battle with the New Jersey attorney general when he first got the idea to donate Bitcoin. Unlike most 19-year-olds, Rubin confided in friends about being accused of being “a stubborn cybercriminal who installed malware on people’s computers”. But Rubin said he is simply running a Bitcoin mining program called Tidbit.

Rubin was later vindicated, but his project only received indifferent reactions from friends whenever the word Bitcoin was mentioned. “I thought, ‘This is MIT. I thought everyone was super cutting-edge.’ And I realized that no, it really wasn’t something that was all that widespread at that point,” said Rubin

At the end of October 2014, Rubin and project leader Dan Elitzer – then an MBA student, posted an enrollment. Students who want to participate and own $100 worth of Bitcoins have to answer a few questions and some academic criteria.

Source: CNBC

Students who wanted to participate also had to open their own crypto wallets and this was not easy at the time. However, 70% of the students passed the rounds. Phu was one of the students who make money by opening a cryptocurrency wallet for those who don’t want to spend time learning and splitting a Bitcoin as a reward.

“A lot of the students would pay the other students half of the bitcoin if they would set it up on their behalf,” Phu said. Phu helped about 10-12 people open wallets and get a commission in Bitcoin. He then spent $100 in Bitcoin – now worth more than $14,000 – on two sushi dinners.

Meanwhile, Trabucco did not think much about that project, despite trying to triple his Bitcoins to play online poker. At the time, he thought that Bitcoin was great but not the future of finance. However, he is running Alameda Research – a company that manages more than $1 billion in digital assets and trades about $10 billion a day across thousands of products.

Regarding the amount of cryptocurrency holding, Phu, Rubin, and Trabucco all declined to share.

” Even at the time, the technology was quite user unfriendly. Even within a pretty tech-savvy community such as MIT, it was kind of surprising to see how much work it really was to use bitcoin at the time,” says Catalini. “What was fascinating is that in a sense, the MIT students got it right. The vast majority held on to their bitcoin as an investment. And maybe it sounds obvious given the price has appreciated so dramatically. But I think in 2014, it wasn’t clear at all that something that was worth at the time, I think $250, would be worth more than that.”