- A tech reporter once lived on bitcoins for a week straight to test how valuable they were in the real world.
- She bought a bunch of bitcoins in 2013 for $136 each on Coinbase, hoping to use them for daily expenses.
- On the last night of her experiment, she spent 10 bitcoins on a sushi dinner for dozens of strangers. Today those would be worth about $230,000.
- The restaurant’s owner has now retired from the food business, thanks in part to his cryptocurrency earnings of 41 bitcoins, or $902,000 today.
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Kashmir Hill, a technology reporter at The New York Times, once lived on bitcoins for one week straight as an experiment.
She detailed her memorable experience in a piece for The New York Times.
In 2013, Hill had a special interest in the then 4-year-old cryptocurrency, since her work primarily focused on technology and data privacy. Tech junkies were just getting excited about bitcoins back then, so she decided to explore its value in the real world by testing what it would be like to live on the currency for a few days.
Hill bought some bitcoins for $136 each on the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, hoping to find ways she could use her new “money.”
Though she lived in San Francisco, a hot spot for tech startups and companies, there were limited options for her to spend any cryptocurrency. During that week, she lost 5 pounds simply because she was tight on food and transport options. She was also “constantly caffeine deprived” because no coffee seller seemed to accept bitcoins.
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Hill decided to celebrate the last night of her experiment by hosting a dinner for at least 15 strangers at a sushi restaurant called Sake Zone – one of the few places that accepted the token. She sent an open invite on the social-networking site Meetup and to a bitcoin community on Reddit. To her surprise, more than 60 people turned up at the event.
She described the attendees as “a wild cast of characters.” Economists, entrepreneurs who were creating bitcoin apps and games, and two founders of the arts event Burning Man were part of the crowd.
The dinner bill came out to a whopping $957, which she paid for in 10 bitcoins.
“I felt guilty at the time, making Yung Chen accept $1,000 worth of funny money, because it was unclear to me whether Bitcoin should be worth anything at all,” Hill said, referring to the restaurant owner.
As of 2020, the restaurant owner and his wife had retired from the food business. That may partially be because of their cryptocurrency earnings. They hold about 41 bitcoins in total, or $902,000 today.
Bitcoin has had a wild ride this year, hitting record highs more than twice in the past month. The digital asset was trading at about $23,235 on Thursday.