Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially launched his presidential campaign on Wednesday evening, setting out his priorities during a glitch-filled Twitter Spaces event with Elon Musk. His statement included familiar red meat for the Republican base, including tirades over Disney and “woke” corporations but also an extended riff on crypto.
“You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is because they don’t control it…I think that the current regime, clearly they have it out for Bitcoin, and if it continues for another four years, you know, they’ll probably end up killing it,” he said, while claiming Bitcoin is a threat to the “central planners” in the Biden administration who wish to control everything.
This is interesting on a number of levels. First off, it’s a shrewd move by DeSantis on a political level. His declaration makes him the first major presidential candidate who is avowedly pro-crypto—a stance certain to unlock a flood of campaign donations. In theory, it should be hard for a politician who likes to sic the government on companies that disagree with him to appeal to the freedom-loving crypto community. But as Bitcoin Miami’s embrace a week ago of kooky Democratic challenger Robert F. Kennedy Jr. showed, the community will overlook anything so long as a candidate praises crypto. The upshot is that DeSantis, for now, has the inside track with a highly motivated constituency, many of whom are millionaires or billionaires.
DeSantis’s speech was also notable because he only mentioned Bitcoin, and not crypto more broadly. This will likely upset some in the Ethereum crowd and boosters of other blockchains, but it’s probably a shrewd decision by the governor at a time when Bitcoin is the only coin that regulators have not tried to cast as a security.
More broadly, DeSantis’s Bitcoin speech is intriguing because of the platform where he chose to make the announcement. By all accounts, the Twitter Spaces event was a debacle—the livestream was garbled and chaotic, forcing the campaign to relaunch from a different link, losing half the audience in the process. But in the longer term, at a time when cable news is in a death spiral, it’s inevitable that socials will be the go-to platform for campaigns and major political events. And given that some of these platforms, including Twitter, have built-in crypto functionality, it’s easy to imagine candidates tapping into crypto donations in real time.
Most important, the DeSantis speech is another reminder that Bitcoin and crypto have hit the big time. When President Barack Obama was running against Mitt Romney in 2012, 99% of voters did not even know Bitcoin existed, and in the following two presidential campaigns, crypto was peripheral at best. Now, though, it is poised to be a serious issue in the 2024 campaign—and beyond.
Jeff John Roberts
Worldcoin, the crypto identity project launched by Sam Altman that scans eyeballs, just raised a $115 million Series C to battle A.I. bots. (Fortune)
A law firm that has tried for months to serve Shaquille O’Neal for promoting FTX caught up with him at an NBA playoff game; O’Neal had the process server tossed from the arena. (WSJ)
An appeals court in Montenegro overturned a judge’s decision to free disgraced Terra founder Do Kwon on bail. (Bloomberg)
A group backed by venture capitalist Michael Arrington won an auction to acquire the assets of bankrupt crypto firm Celsius. (CoinDesk)
The head of Goldman Sachs’ digital asset business said the bank is using blockchain technology for a range of services from settlement to repo. (Fortune)
MEME O’ THE MOMENT
Bitcoiners winning Canadian hearts and minds:
This is the web version of Fortune Crypto, a daily newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered free to your inbox.