San Francisco’s First Animated Cult Crypto Joint Has Disappeared

Ah, those were the years. In 2012, young Jered Kenna reigned the roost as landlord of 20Mission, where tenants of the “lawless commune” paid rent in Bitcoin and gathered in the second-floor common room for heated discussions. on the potential of crypto to change the world.

The first five years, Kenna said in a recent interview with Mission Local, were “some of the best years of my life.”

But for Kenna and many other early adopters, those years are over.

“I haven’t had crypto for a long time, I lost most of it to identity theft,” Kenna said. He no longer buys any cryptocurrency. “I’m really inactive. I’ve always been interested in actual use, not speculation,” he said.

For Kenna, Bitcoin’s collapse in June, along with a number of other blows to the industry, was “long overdue… I think a lot of crypto investing was pretty crazy.”

“There are things that have real use and they are useful, and then there is a lot of bullshit. People are investing in all this bullshit and paying millions of dollars for JPEGs,” he added.

Yet investors remain

Unlike Kenna, many Mission members still hold the coin, now valued at around $20,000 a coin, down precipitously from a high of nearly $70,000 in November 2021. The initial excitement has dissipated and many look at her with detached skepticism. Others oscillate between doubt and belief.

Take Han, a 27-year-old programmer, who lost more than half of the roughly $7,000 he invested in Bitcoin. It hurts, but the attraction is still there. Bitcoin speaks to Han’s soul: “I think cryptocurrency is trying to build a new kind of human consensus and break the order of our established system. It has the potential to change the structure of the world, and that’s what I look forward to,” he said.

Others are more detached.

“I’m just a starter. I don’t care,” said Andrew Ward, 38, an event producer. “I remain hopeful that crypto will be a mechanism that we can use as an alternative and enforced monetary regime. So that’s more than I support philosophically.

About one person uses it every day.

Kosher Kuldeep about the BITCOIN ATM at Mission Grocery & Liquor

Around noon last Friday, Stephanie Pakrul, a web developer, was considering whether to make a crypto transfer. She has been following crypto for nine years, becoming increasingly oblivious to its dramatic ups and downs. However, his enthusiasm has its limits. “It’s not something I’m going to tell my friends who aren’t into it to go buy, because, who knows?” Pakraul said.

20Mish, a cohabitation space formerly known as 20Mission. Photo by Yujie Zhou. Taken July 8, 2022.

What could go wrong?

For Kenna, the calamities of the unknown were twofold: identity theft and the pandemic.

“Everything was fine for the most part until the pandemic,” he said. Until then, Kenna Municipality was still accepting bitcoin payments and residents were using the two bitcoin ATMs that had been there since early 2016.

But as the pandemic progressed, the rooms of 20Mission emptied. Money bleeding, the bank seized the building. “Believe me, if I still had crypto, I wouldn’t have lost the building,” said Kenna, who couldn’t afford mortgage payments and property taxes.

Kenna’s losses seem like a fitting case study for John Prins, the former head of currencies at Black Rock, who warned, “Never, ever invest in cryptocurrency to make money.

Crypto, he said, does not produce anything of value. “You can’t think of cryptocurrency the same way you think of stocks and bonds. It’s just not the same,” he said. “Cryptocurrency has yet to find its future.”

But some remain convinced that it will. “I think it has a future,” said Timothy Guo, co-chairman of Blockchain in Berkeleya student-run organization that designed the world’s first undergraduate university course on blockchain, the technology underlying cryptocurrencies.

Blockchain, they said, eliminates “the middle man” and emphasizes trust in code rather than people. “Because while it might not be perfect right now, there is a great community that really, really believes in the ethos of cryptocurrency, is constantly working to improve it, find new cases of use and to help make the world a more democratic and equitable place.”

Another former crypto enthusiast is Elquis Castillo II. He saw crypto as “the business of the future” and started mining Bitcoin in high school. “It’s almost like a cult,” said the 24-year-old who pulled out because he was beginning to see his lack of a “true profit principle.”

Another early seller of crypto sticks with him

Like Kenna, Jack Jia, now a senior director at ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company, was among the group of early believers. Jia was also the first employee of Wyre, a crypto FinTech startup that was rebranded Snapcard and acquired by payment company Bolt. But when it was still Snapcard, Jia was the manager who tried (and failed) to persuade Bay Area stores, including those in the Mission, to accept Bitcoin.

“There was hardly any adoption at the time because we had entered a bear market for crypto. And the technology had not been proven. The traditional Web 2.0 world hasn’t taken this too seriously.

Still, Jia remains in the industry and exudes enthusiasm. “His future has never been brighter,” Jia said. The recent collapse, he added, was almost inevitable. “Two and a half years of bear market, one and a half years of bull market. These things almost happened mathematically,” he said.

“You cannot allow these siled events to dictate a general black and white statement about crypto in general or blockchain technology. It’s a revolutionary thing,” Jia said. Today, he believes that conditions continue to improve, with growing regulatory clarity from top to bottom, as well as a growing trend in cryptocurrency acceptance.

The only remaining Coinsource Bitcoin ATM in San Francisco is inside Mission Grocery & Liquor between 17th and 18th streets. Photo by Yujie Zhou. Taken July 8, 2022.

This is not the case with merchants in the Mission. The only a Coinsource Bitcoin ATM which remains in San Francisco, is inside Mission Grocery & Liquor between 17th and 18th streets.

“About one person uses it every day,” cashier Kuldeep said, a figure that hasn’t changed much since the machine was installed in May 2016, when the cryptocurrency traded at just $500 a day. room.

Hope and reality

At the former 20Mission, now 20Mish, only a dozen of its 41 rooms are occupied. The two Bitcoin ATMs are gone, and the second-floor common room, once filled with residents talking about the future of Bitcoin, is deserted and in disrepair.

But as the conversation with Kenna continues, he softens his own stance and sees hope. As more and more financial institutions get involved in cryptocurrencies, one day, he said, “you probably won’t necessarily know you’re using it. I think it’s really possible that you are using another platform that has cryptocurrency in the background.

“Just the fact that the branding and the network and everything is really strong, that’s the biggest asset he has,” he said. “Anything that doesn’t kill him makes him stronger could be applied here.”

Yet Kenna, who decamped to Texas, is out of the crypto market. Its main activity: 20Mission Cerveza, a brewery in Colombia.

Joan D. Boling