SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The future of virtual money – cryptocurrency – is the real life focus of of a handful of entrepreneurs who live and work out of a three-story home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood.
It’s known as the Crypto Castle.
The home has bunk beds, a balcony with views of the city skyline, and in Silicon Valley fashion, a garage with work spaces and couches.
“It’s almost a byproduct of the counter-cultural movement of the 60s where people lived in these communes and got together they kind of plotted the future with one another,” said crypto entrepreneur Jeremy Gardner. “I mean that’s what happens when you put a bunch of brilliant people in a room.”
Gardner first got into the home because he was looking for a place to run his crypto startup Augur. The castle has since turned into what he calls ground zero for building Crypto or Bitcoin-based startups in San Francisco.
The value of the cryptocurrency market rose to a record $200 billion this month — up from $17 billion at the beginning of the year. Bitcoin is the most valuable type. It’s digital – created and exchanged without the involvement of banks or governments.
Gardner says this is where people come to get inspired.
“It’s been remarkable, I mean from the world’s top venture capitalists and entrepreneurs and computer scientists to a self-driving car company that was founded by George Hotz in my basement,” the 25-year-old said. “Which went from him just programming manically and sleeping in my closet to being a company that raised millions of dollars from the top venture capitalists.”
The collaborative community is what brought Aaron Power-Bearden to the castle, which has a handful of visitors and tenants at anytime.
“Some of the people that I’ve met here, completely unreal, you know there’s people that have come in and out of this house that you probably wouldn’t get access to anywhere else,” said Power-Bearden.
Viviane Ford is of the castle’s longest tenants.
“Lately it’s really been getting this legacy of the Crypto Castle as cryptocurrencies have been booming and more and more people are talking about it, people are getting more and more interested in the home, but even two years ago there wasn’t this kind of excitement around the house,” said Ford, who is VP of Operations of Comma.ai
Investor interest in cryptocurrencies has never been higher. The value of bitcoin in particular has been extremely volatile. This month it hit an all-time high of $9,967.95. At one point three months ago, a single bitcoin was worth less than half that amount.
“In 2009 it was worth a dollar, and now it’s $4,000, and so that level of change and that quickness of changing is dramatic,” said Joshua Goldbard, who runs a crypto hedge fund called Crypto Lotus.
“I think that any new technology is scary,” said Goldbard. “I think there’s a possibility that the whole thing fails. But as far as I can tell right now there are a bunch of things that bitcoin does that are superior to the way traditional financial markets operate and things that tend to have superior features, tend to win over time.”
These tenants say they’re not buying in to the crypto space to get rich quick.
“I saw this way that you could give an immigrant from Kenya a means to send money back to their family without giving 10 percent of their paycheck to Western Union. That’s what got me really excited and I just wanted to evangelize,” said Gardner.