Silicon Valley’s Russ Hanneman lost a fortune in cryptocurrency, just like a few people in real life.
HBO’s Silicon Valley is known as the poignant satire of big tech. The show was often as timely as the industry it parodied endlessly. Season five’s “Initial Coin Offering” was no exception, as it accurately predicted how a few minor glitches in the cryptocurrency would result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Initial Coin Offering begins with Richard Hendricks, CEO of Pied Piper, investigating the possibility of launching an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to end the company’s commitment to Raviga investor Laurie Bream. An ICO would function essentially like an IPO, but with its value in cryptocurrency rather than stocks. After a tense meeting with Monica Hall and a passionate lecture on cryptocurrency by Pied Piper Systems Architect Bertram Gilfoyle, Hendricks and Gilfoyle visit multibillionaire Russ Hanneman at a landfill.
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Hanneman tells the duo that he launched 36 ICOs, but only one of them was successful. Unfortunately, Hanneman put all of the cryptocurrency in a flash drive that was lost after one of his cleaning assistants threw away his ripped jeans. According to Hanneman, the amount of cryptocurrency in his lost pocket was worth billions, if not trillions of dollars.
If this act sounds familiar from Silicon Valley, it’s because it happened in real life. Earlier this year, the International Business Times reported that a Welshman named James Howells accidentally tossed out a hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoin – worth over $ 260 million. Howells, an IT staff member, reportedly mined the bitcoin sometime in 2013 and lost the hard drive he kept it on years ago. He offered his community $ 70 million so he could dig a landfill where the hard drive could be, but they kept refusing his requests.
Howells wasn’t the only person who got lucky out of a Bitcoin fortune thanks to an honest mistake. German programmer Stefan Thomas reportedly lost just over 7,000 bitcoin, valued at around $ 220 million, after losing the piece of paper that contained the password on his Bitcoin wallet. Thomas only has two attempts to enter the correct password. If both attempts are wrong, the wallet will erase all of the available bitcoin. Thomas has publicly made peace with his loss, but he admitted to suffering from the ordeal for a few nights.
“I would just lie in bed and think about it: Then I would go to the computer with a new strategy and it would not work and I would be desperate again,” Thomas told the New York Times.
Thomas and Howells aren’t the only ones to lose all of their Bitcoin fortune due to a simple mishap. The New York Times reports that an estimated $ 140 billion worth of Bitcoin is lost due to forgotten passwords. Hanneman’s Bitcoin loss in Silicon Valley appears to be due to incompetence, but real life has proven that these simple mistakes exist everywhere.
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About the author
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Aaron Grech is a writer, cinephile, Nintendo gamer, music addict, and television nerd from Southern California. A graduate of the University of California at Riverside, Aaron has written for a variety of popular culture websites, providing entertainment news, food for thought and event reviews. When he’s not writing, reading, filming or twittering, Aaron enjoys playing Pokémon, Unter Uns, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Classic Metroid, Animal Crossing, and Civilization 6. His favorite directors are Denis Villeneuve Alejandro Jodorowsky , John Singleton, the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg, Ridley Scott, and Guillermo Del Toro.
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