It wasn’t just the replica of the WikiLeaks affair that made 2011 a pivotal year for Bitcoin. First, he saw the arrival of knockoffs: developers used Bitcoin as a model to create new forms of digital money – sometimes dubbed “altcoins” – by adding new functionality. Namecoin and Litecoin, two standout examples, were both launched in 2011, turning the space into a competition between multiple cryptocurrencies. Others that followed were little more than jokes – Exhibit A: Elon Musk’s favorite, Dogecoin – used as speculative fodder in online markets; still others were outright scams.

It was also the year Vitalik Buterin, a 17-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer, began working on the launch of a trade publication, Bitcoin Magazine. Two years later, Buterin would play a pivotal role in the creation of Ethereum, which sparked a paradigm shift across the scene. Currently, the second most valuable cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s bet was to extend Bitcoin logic to areas other than money, aiming for a decentralized ecosystem where entire digital businesses could theoretically be created and run without staff or management. . If Bitcoin had aspired to be stateless money, Ethereum’s plan was to become an Internet without Big Tech.

And 2011 was the year Ross Ulbricht, a Texas-born libertarian, launched Silk Road, an online marketplace for illegal drugs, which existed on the dark web and used Bitcoin as a form of payment, which he always has. struggling a decade later, even though in 2020 illicit activity only accounted for $ 10.0 billion or 0.34% of global Bitcoin transactions. If Silk Road was able to popularize Bitcoin among a new crowd (that of drug buyers), it was the much publicized demise of Silk Road in October 2013 that arguably helped the use of Bitcoin to rise worldwide.