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Not all good things last, and the Wall Street Journal found this out the hard way. The company recently launched a cryptocurrency, marketed it to investors, and killed the idea before prospective investors could get in.
Termed as WSJCoin, Steven Russolillo headed the digital coin project. While the man in charge wasn’t able to launch the coin before the head of ethics at WSJ shut the project down, he did manage to pay off his beer bill in Japan using the cryptocurrency.
Taunting the Crypto World
Ever since the boom in December 2017, when the market cap for all cryptocurrencies surpassed $800 billion, amateur investors have collectively lost over $583 billion as it left the crypto-market. Cryptocurrency is currently valued at $217 billion, and no one knows when $600 billion will find its way back into cryptocurrencies.
The WSJCoin documentary follows Russolillo around his travels in Tokyo, a country which has embraced cryptocurrencies from a regulatory perspective and a cultural one.
First, Russolillo met J-pop band “Virtual Currency Girls,” an all-girl outfit which sings about cryptocurrencies and has members nicknamed after bitcoin, ether, and ripple, among others. He is then introduced to a 21-year-old who dropped out of university to focus on expanding his Bitcoin mining facility.
Later, Russolillo meets developer Makoto Takemiya, and the duo launches the WSJCoin. The coin was based on a public blockchain called Iroha, an initiative by IBM-owned Hyperledger. The journalist’s journey continues to include paying for two beers with two coins, as well as talking to DMM Bitcoin’s President Hitoshi Taguchi about the importance of creating crypto payment systems
Russolillo’s decision of limiting the coin supply to 8.4 billion, similar to other cryptocurrencies, was supported by Takemiya and the developer also helped to lower the divisibility of the coin to two, unlike Bitcoin’s eight.
Things Get Physical – and Ethical
In the documentary, Russolillo then heads to Hong Kong accompanied by printed WSJCoins to present the idea at The Wall Street Journal’s annual tech conference. In attendance were Bitpesa’s CEO Elizabeth Rossiello and Ripple’s former CTO Stefan Thomas who instantly liked the idea of having a journalism-based cryptocurrency. Since going digital, the journalism business has been struggling, and a viable revenue system has been absent.
Despite the coin’s success up until this point, the documentary and WSJCoin faced their ending when Neal Lipschutz, who oversees Ethics & Standards at the Wall Street Journal, said to Russolilio:
“We’re not in the business of getting in the cryptocurrency world. We’re here to report it and explain it, just like we report on banks we don’t go out and start a bank. We’re not going to create a currency.”
While the effort did not result in yet another cryptocurrency being created for the world, the documentary was a light-hearted take on the simplicity of creating one’s token and pitching it to serious investors with just an idea.