It sometimes seems it's hard to hold two thoughts to be true at once when it comes to all the hype and hate around Bitcoin, Blockchain and cryptocurrency: Either Bitcoin is a bubble or it's the beautiful unicorn that we'll all ride to a future filled with rainbows. 

It's probably both.

When Bitcoin first crossed $10,000 a few months back, it seemed clear to me that it was past time to put on the brakes. I put out the warning that it probably wasn't best to start buying in to Bitcoin when its price was up 1,000 percent in less than a year.

Some folks may have bought in at $10,000 and cashed out at the all-time high of over $19,000 in December. If you timed it perfectly, good for you. Plenty of others are still holding that purchase of holiday season Bitcoin and no doubt feeling anxiety watching the price slip below $9,000 for the first time since November.

The current carnage is even worse in the so-called alt-coin market. Had you bought a thousand dollars worth of China-based crypto token Tron at its peak, it would only be worth around $200 today.

But keep in mind that at the height of the crypto frenzy in December, the going prices for alt-coins were doubling or tripling on a daily basis. Clearly that's not sustainable and a painful crash or correction was inevitable. 

Contributing to the corrective cool-down period has been a series of gestures by regulators from South Korea to the SEC moving to protect investors from getting in over their heads. Even Facebook banned ads for crypto this week.

The truth is that a rather remarkable crypto bubble inflated over the past year, leading forces to converge and let a little (ok, a lot) of the air out of it. 

This does not mean, as others often suggest, that Bitcoin and other cryptos are mostly scams, ponzi schemes or without value (although there are individual cryptocurrencies out there that are undoubtedly scammy cash grabs). 

Rather, Bitcoin and Blockchain are currently undergoing their Pets.com moment. The late 1990s hype that led to the original dot-com bubble and subsequent burst did not signal the end the internet. At that point we could scarcely imagine what mainstream adoption of the internet would look like; the social and mobile revolutions were still years off.

Seeing billions worth of value wiped off the cryptocurrency market this week takes me back to 2000, when similar Silicon Valley fortunes (on paper, at least) were lost almost overnight. 

But Silicon Valley didn't go anywhere. Instead, it was back and bigger than ever within a decade.

I think we can expect the same from Bitcoin and Blockchain. It's hard to overstate how early it is in the history of these technologies, particularly Blockchain. Both announced themselves to the mainstream in a chaotic manner over the last year, creating an inevitable reaction and forcing regulators into action.

What many are missing is that, while this give and take my be painful for speculators in the short term, it represents an acquiescence to the arrival of a new paradigm.  Actions by regulators actually help lay the groundwork for Blockchain and crypto to eventually come back bigger, stronger and likely in new forms (maybe even some sort of unicorn) we can scarcely imagine today. 

Published on: Feb 2, 2018