These are the most popular bitcoin-related stories from social media in 2015. Between Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing, to Mike Tyson entering the bitcoin world, to bitcoin hitting a new price high, to the launch of New York-based Gemini and John McAfee accepting bitcoin for his presidential campaign, 2015 was an up-and-down year, with some great things and a few misfires. Let’s take one last look at 2015 and try to remember its relationship with bitcoin as a positive (and realistic) one.
Read the full story below.
Ross Ulbricht Sentenced to Life in Prison
In what was arguably one of the largest bitcoin-related story of 2015, 31-year-old Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in May for his alleged dealings in the underground black market Silk Road.
Silk Road served as a large, online market for illegal goods ranging from drugs to firearms. During the trial, Ulbricht, who broke down in tears prior to the sentencing, begged the judge to offer him a “light at the end of the tunnel,” saying that he understood his “middle years” were likely in the trash, but that his old age should be left to him.
The judge rejected any and all pleas from prosecutors, saying that the idea behind Silk Road was to be beyond the law. Setting an example of Ulbricht, Judge Forrester handed down what many believe was an exceptionally harsh sentence.
Throughout the trial, Ulbricht’s lawyers tried desperately to prove that he was simply a victim of a massive attack that was meant to make him appear as the master of operations, but the jury didn’t buy such an argument. Throughout the trial, Ross and his lawyers were subjected to the testimony of parents whose children had died from drugs purchased on the black market site and a judge that would not accept any of the “guiltless pleas” made by the defense or Ulbricht’s growing number of public supporters.
Ulbricht is currently trying to appeal the decision.
Mike Tyson Joins the Bitcoin Revolution
It seems fighters can do a lot for new trends. What George Forman did for grilling, Mike Tyson is now doing for bitcoin.
2015 saw bitcoin ATMs branded with the ex-heavyweight champion’s name making their way into the limelight on the Las Vegas strip. In lending his celebrity status to the bitcoin cause, the former boxer will split the profits 50/50 with Bitcoin Direct, the company responsible for the distribution of the machines.
Although he admits he’s no expert, Tyson says he’s intrigued by bitcoin, and enjoys the options it can give consumers beyond traditional banking methods. He’s not giving up fiat currency altogether right away, but as with many bitcoin enthusiasts, that could possibly change down the line.
Bitcoin Finally Shoots Up After a Dismal Year
2015 was a rocky time for bitcoin. The digital currency dropped to a dismal $177 in early January and later hovered at around the $230 range for the remainder of the year.
However, renewed interest in China is often “blamed” for the sudden rise in bitcoin that occurred unexpectedly in the month of November. Within a matter of time, bitcoin’s price rose to $260, then $300, then $330, and then $400. It has since managed to stay at or around the $450, and it’s estimated that in the last few months, bitcoin’s price has risen by about 88.5 percent. This is a stellar increase when one considers where the coin sat in August, when it experienced another massive drop to the $190 mark.
Gemini Opens for Business
New York-based bitcoin exchange Gemini opened its doors for business in October. The company, which is the brainchild of bitcoin entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (famous for their rivalry with Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg), is described as “fully regulated,” meaning it will offer FICO insurance and similar security measures one sees at traditional, standard financial institutions.
Gemini was first announced in January of last year following a long period of solid hype. The business is presently operating in an impressive 26 states, as well as the District of Colombia.
John McAfee Accepts Bitcoin for Presidential Run
The anti-virus mogul is accepting bitcoin for his 2016 presidential campaign. A self-proclaimed member of the “Cyber Party,” McAfee made the announcement to his surprised band of 29,000 Twitter followers via BitPay in October last year. Other donations will be accepted through PayPal. McAfee now joins Rand Paul among other candidates who now accept funds in the form of digital currency.