Peter McCormack is a podcaster, moderator, filmmaker, and the creator of What Bitcoin Did, a Bitcoin-focused podcast launched in 2017 that counts more than 250 episodes and has grown to over 280,000 downloads a month. In 2019, Peter kicked off his second podcast Defiance, which branches out into a wider range of topics and shines a light on stories surrounding politics, economics, and societal change.
The BTC Times recently sat down with Peter to talk about his journey into Bitcoin, his views on other bitcoiners, his work in and outside the Bitcoin space, and his goals for the future.
Hi Peter, thank you for joining us for an interview. Could you share how you were first introduced to Bitcoin?
2013 when a friend showed me the Silk Road, so I bought my first bitcoin on Local Bitcoins and went shopping.
Have your motivations to buy and hold bitcoin changed since then?
Massively. Back in 2013, it was just a tool to use the Silk Road. Roll forward seven years, I now understand Bitcoin much better, and for me it is an investment, a hedge against inflation, and a savings technology.
In your own words, what is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is monetary freedom. Bitcoin offers free choice and is personal to each person. For one person, Bitcoin may be freedom in an oppressive state, while for others, it might be a speculative asset in a trading environment. Depending on who you are, you may have widely different opinions on what Bitcoin is.
Are you a trader, HODLer, or a victim of a tragic boating accident?
Hodler through and through.
What are you thoughts about the people in the Bitcoin space? There seem to be a few bitcoiners who dislike you. Is the feeling mutual?
Not really. I don’t tend to hold grudges, even with the most hating of haters. Anyone is free to give me a call, talk through any issues they have. Even Saifedean, despite his anger towards my opinions regarding global warming, I went up to him at a conference and said, “come on man, we can hold different views and still be friends,” and then we shook hands.
These grudges are often silly and born out of this growing culture/toxic badge of honour. I get where it comes from, especially with what happened with S2X, but some people seem to have taken it to the point of harassing and throwing hate at people for different views even outside of Bitcoin.
I think some people need to take a step back and get a grip of their emotions. If you are spending all day on Twitter throwing shade over people, then I don’t think it is ultimately productive.
Like I said, I am always happy to talk to anyone who has a particular issue with my views and work. Sometimes talking these things through over the phone is a productive way of understanding each other's point of view.
Are there bitcoiners you get along with particularly well?
Plenty, and I talk to a bunch in the background. I have always got on well with Dan Held, and he is probably my best friend in the space. Even if I was to leave Bitcoin and do something else, he and I will stay great friends. We wrestle with similar ideas, and while we might not always agree, we talk them through rationally.
I also get on well with Brad Michelson, Pomp, Lopp, Giacomo, Alex Gladstein etc... I feel like I can phone most people and grab a beer or go for dinner.
You recently hit a milestone with the release of the 250th episode of What Bitcoin Did. What motivated you to start the show, and how has it changed your life?
Just a series of coincidences really. I became friends with a successful podcaster called Rich Roll, and while I was in Los Angeles a few years back, I realized I wasn’t cut out to be a trader, so I decided to start the podcast. I had no expectations, yet here I am three years later with millions of downloads, having traveled the world and moved into filmmaking too. I feel very lucky.
Your professional background lies in digital marketing. Do you consider your work with What Bitcoin Did to be marketing for Bitcoin?
I guess you can argue this, though I see it more of a documented journey of my progress through Bitcoin, economics, and politics. It really is just a transparent journey of questions and learning. Some people get annoyed that I don’t follow their beliefs or make the show in the way they want, so be it, I am happy with what I produce.
There are a lot of people who like the show, and a smaller number who don’t. It isn’t possible to make something which everyone likes, so I just do what I do, and if the numbers start dropping, then I guess the audience for it will be lost.
Do bitcoiners have a responsibility to educate others about Bitcoin?
No, I don’t think so. I think Bitcoin is about freedom. If you want to just buy and hold and do nothing else, then that is up to you. If you want to educate, that is also up to you.
You regularly talk to experts in various fields related to Bitcoin. Have any of your past episodes caused your views on Bitcoin to change? If so, are there episodes or guests that have played a particularly significant role in shaping your current views?
I think the most influential show for me was the first with Lyn Ulbricht, because I dived deep into the story and realized how the state really has so much control over people for what I believe are sometimes things which are personal choices. Ross is now imprisoned for the rest of his life, and his crime was building a platform for free choice.
Some of the interviews with Erik Vorhees have made me consider the role of government. I have always struggled with the idea of no government, but when Erik said, let's start with less, it made me think about directionally moving to less government.
What is your favorite What Bitcoin Did episode?
Hmmm, always a tough question. The first interview I did with Andrew Poelstra probably. I was so unprepared for such a technical genius, and it just ended up being quite a funny interview.
Can you share your motivation behind the launch of your second podcast Defiance?
It is really simple, just a desire to cover topics outside of Bitcoin. I love the Bitcoin show, but often I want to do other things. Like right now, I am telling the story of this band The Ghost Inside who were in a fatal bus crash in 2014. I am really getting into the area of story telling, which comes with its own challenges.
What is the Defiance podcast about, and who are your listeners?
Originally, it was about those who fight against authority, but it is expanding into broader topics. Really, it is about subjects I am interested in, from Bitcoin over the sex industry to heavy metal. A massive cliche, but I guess you could say sex, drugs, and Rock'n'Roll.
What are your goals for What Bitcoin Did and Defiance?
I really didn’t have any goals when I started. Now it is just about making content that people like and being able to afford to live off it. I have little desire to be rich; as long as I can afford a good life with my kids and make the content I am interested in, I am happy.
You have built up a notable profile as a personality in the Bitcoin space. Where do you see your professional future in the industry in the next few years?
I expect it will diminish. As the space grows, there will be smarter people who take the lead, which is a good thing. I never really asked to be a personality and don’t really like the idea, which perhaps is why I self-sabotage. I also think I am being drawn into other subjects and mediums. My long-term goal is to be a filmmaker, perhaps with Bitcoin, but I will also want to make films about other subjects.
Still, as long as people like what I am making, I guess I will be here making it.
Finally, has Bitcoin made your life better or worse?
Infinitely better. It came into my life at a time when things were all going wrong, now life couldn’t be better and I couldn’t be happier.
Learn more about Peter's work on What Bitcoin Did and Defiance.