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Tyler Cowen

How Crypto Billionaires Will Transform Philanthropy

Traditional causes may recede as the newly wealthy focus on weird, stand-alone projects.

Once upon a time, a typical philanthropic cause.

Once upon a time, a typical philanthropic cause.

Photographer: Express Newspapers/Hulton Archive

If the price of Bitcoin were to reach $200,000, Coinbase Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong observed recently, half of the world’s billionaires would be crypto billionaires. Even at the lesser valuations that currently prevail, this crypto wealth has vast potential to reshape philanthropy. Expect a relative decline in the influence of longstanding nonprofit institutions — and more weird, stand-alone projects.

Bitcoin itself is a weird, stand-alone project. The true identity of its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, is still unknown, and the broader Bitcoin ecosystem is not owned or controlled by any company or institution. It has been self-sustaining since the beginning, and so it should hardly come as a surprise that Bitcoin billionaires take Bitcoin itself as a model for future institutions, including in philanthropy.