Deciding whether to trust in cryonics is a tough question. On the one hand, it seems a bit sci-fi. On the other, it might be the only way to achieve immortality. The technology is still in its early days and it remains to be seen whether or not it will live up to expectations. Early adopters are often called cryophiles. Still, the idea of being frozen after death has a certain appeal.
While hearing about cryonics for the first time may evoke fears of the unknown and even the macabre, the idea behind it is actually not as strange as it might sound. The goal of cryonics is to save lives, and it is based on the belief that “only the dead can be revived.” It is a legitimate science that uses low temperatures to prevent cells from decomposing, and it has been practiced for years, even though it has been met with challenges from all angles.
At the end of our hour-long interview, Bitcoin.com founder Roger Wehr reveals the secret: At the age of 23, he contemplated suicide to avoid imprisonment. Even for most libertarians, this seems extreme. But Ver found a way to prevent his own death by storing himself in a cryon to be reborn later.
By the time he was 20, Wehr had already signed a contract with Arizona-based Alcor to extend his life and be frozen after his death, long before he was sentenced to 10 months in prison in 2002 for selling fireworks on eBay.
He will freeze your body in a giant vat of liquid nitrogen when you die, in the hope that future medical technology can fix the cause of your death – as well as the damage caused by freezing, he explains:
I’ve even considered – suicide isn’t really the right word – but I’ve considered killing myself temporarily, putting myself in cryogenic suspension, and getting out later when technology improves, to avoid prison. That’s how excited I was to go to prison.
Now 42 years old and with a fortune he vaguely describes as billions, the developer of Bitcoin Cash plans to shift his investments over the next decade to cryogenics in hopes of improving experimental technology.
Instead of investing in cryptocurrencies, I want to focus on extreme life extension technologies, because when you die, you can’t enjoy life anymore, he says. At various points in our conversation, Ver talks about his mission and uses a well-known slogan that says he helps develop tools that give people control over their own money (or different variations of those tools).
Based on this, he says his new direction will be to develop tools that allow people to have as much time as they need to do what they love and spend that time with the people who are important to them.
When Ver is hit by a bus tomorrow, he has a card in his wallet and notes in his phone with instructions to contact Alcor immediately to freeze his body in hopes of a possible resurrection. At least I hope so, he said and added with a wink: The downside is that the company is based in Arizona and I travel all over the world.
Ver is currently fleeing the pandemic on the French-speaking Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy, where life is good all year round. He renounced his US citizenship in 2014 and became a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis after disputes with US authorities. He spends a lot of time in nearby Antigua, where he has convinced stores from gas stations to supermarkets to accept BCH. Now you can even pay the $158,000 required for citizenship in cryptocurrencies.
Compared to 2017 and 2018, when Ver seemed to be everywhere advocating for big blocks and peer-to-peer money, he’s been much less visible lately. I made a conscious decision to use less media, he says. That civil war is pretty much over now. So I think I should not argue with words, but just make useful things that people all over the world can use.
However, he remains active behind the scenes and helped convince Kim Dotcom to use bitcoin cash for his content monetization platform, K.im.
In a conversation with bitcoin maximalist Ton Weiss (who was clearly not impressed), Dotcom revealed that Ver had changed his mind. He shared with me some of the innovations he is working on. I think this guy is way ahead of the game at this point, in terms of mindset and stage of innovation. I think it would be foolish to ignore someone like that.
It seems that Ver has also spoken to Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the benefits of Bitcoin Cash, but he would not confirm it.
I don’t want to be disgusting, but I’m not going to comment on that. I’d like to talk about everything, but that’s a question we’ll have to ask another time.
Well, that’s not a no, is it?
Elon Musk and Kim Dotcom discuss the low cost of Bitcoin Cash! !! Do bitcoin’s high transaction fees matter? #bitcoin #BitcoinCash @elonmusk @KimDotcom https://t.co/BbeVkDbUUl pic.twitter.com/ukvLapITD4
– Ryan Giffin (@RyanMic87079594) 29. March 2021
The only part of the bitcoin fork story
Ver is one of the earliest and most outspoken proponents of bitcoin, but also one of the most controversial because of his role in the fork of Bitcoin Cash in November 2017. Although the price and hash rate of BCH is negligible compared to Bitcoin, there have recently been 100,000 more transactions per day than Bitcoin, and the block size is larger, suggesting that BCH could indeed be used as a currency.
But forks beget forks, and when Ollie and challenger Satoshi Craig Wright forked Bitcoin SV from Bitcoin Cash a year later. At one point, Wehr seemed to believe Wright’s claims about Satoshi, but the relationship deteriorated and now the Australian spends most of his time suing Wehr for libel and calling him a crook. The latest case was filed in Antigua in September. I’m 100 percent sure he’s going to lose this one too, Wehr said without the slightest concern.
But what did he hope to accomplish by tying his fate to Wright’s?
Good question, he says, the things Craig Wright said then are totally different from what he’s been saying lately. At the time, he talked a lot about the free market in terms of libertarianism. After some hesitation, he adds:
At that point, I was hoping for another ally. As it turned out, Craig was not a good ally.
Another fork in the Bitcoin Cash road occurred last November when Bitcoin ABC’s benevolent dictator, Amauri Seshe, attempted to impose an 8% tax on miners to fund development. A competing implementation of Bitcoin Cash Node, or BCH, won the name battle, and Sechet ended up with a coin called BCHA, or Bitcoin Cash ABC, which is currently worth about $36 compared to BCH’s $852.
While it will never be accepted by those who think taxes are theft, the loss of a prominent developer of Bitcoin Cash, who was instrumental in the creation of the currency, seems like a blow. But that’s not how Ver sees it. The only time I had Bitcoin Cash briefly was when Amory tried to split up the network, he says.
Bitcoin ABC and @deadalnix have announced that they will meet on the 15th. November of #BitcoinCash.
We wish them well with their new currency and thank them for the free drop for all BCH holders.
– Roger Wehr (@rogerkver) September 1, 2020
I think it shows how incredibly distributed and decentralized and censorship-resistant the Bitcoin Cash network is, given that Amauri is gone and the network, you know, the price is higher than ever.
And speaking of price, after seeing bitcoin go from a nickel to tens of thousands of dollars, Ver has very optimistic expectations for bitcoin cash. He thinks the total market for digital money is 10 times larger than the market for digital gold, and says if bitcoin can reach $64,000, $600,000 is achievable for bitcoin cash.
However, he is not a Bitcoin Cash maximalist and recognizes the possibility that Ethereum or Ethereum killer could one day supplant Bitcoin if BCH fails to do so.
I own just about every cryptocurrency, he says, showing significant holdings in Bitcoin, Ether, Binance Coin, XRP, ADA, Tether and DOT. However, there was no DOGE.
Separated from family
Ver was born in San Jose in 1979 and rarely talks about his childhood, although his independence and rebellious tendencies were evident even then.
I think I rebelled – I left my biological parents’ house when I was 16, he says. And then I got a new host family with whom I have lived ever since and who I consider my family.
He doesn’t want to talk about it too much, especially since there have been break-ins, attempted extortion and threats against me or my family. So I probably don’t want to give too many details that might help the world find my new host family.
I am so lucky to have found them, and I am incredibly grateful to have them in my life and to speak with them almost daily.
At the age of 16 or 17, he began devouring books on economics, including the works of libertarian – and libertarian-hating – author Ayn Rand, and the writings of Austrian economist and founder of anarcho-capitalism Murray Rothbard.
Related: Is Ethereum on the left and Bitcoin on the right?
Ver laughs and points out that Rand expelled Rothbard from her circle because he was too extreme, which makes him my intellectual hero.
He has written some very, very engaging, interesting and thought-provoking books with views I have never come across before. He adds: I have no problem calling myself an anarcho-capitalist or volunteer, because I believe these are the only practical and moral ways to make society work.
Ver is incredibly dedicated to his libertarian and voluntarist ideals, so much so that he justifies his multi-million dollar donations to the Economic Education Fund, Liberland, Antiwar.com, and FreeRoss.org by attributing his philanthropy to self-interest. Some libertarians, such as Rand, view altruism with some suspicion and see it as incompatible with individual rights and freedom.
It’s because I love and support what these people do, he says. So I want to give them money, not because I am altruistic, but because I am selfish. Because the value I expect to get back from myself will be greater than the value of the cryptocurrency I sent them.
Economy 101 makes mini-millionaires
Ver put his economic knowledge to work and discovered that he could buy hard drives from bankrupt companies at auction for $100 each and sell them on eBay for nearly $400. This became the basis for his company Memory Dealers, and later Ver founded Agilestar, a fiber optic transceiver company.
If you study the books on business, you will learn that all business consists of moving things, whether physical goods, intellectual capital, or anything else, from a place where they are worth less to a place where they are worth more.
But an adventure almost saved his life. As a young man, he said, I loved fireworks. He said he bought fireworks called Pest Control Report 2000 from Cabela’s sporting goods catalog, which is supposed to deter birds from harvesting crops. When he noticed they were more expensive on eBay, he started reselling them at a profit.
It was just a little side project, he says. If I had known it was illegal, I wouldn’t have done it.
Authorities accused him of selling explosives without a license, illegally stockpiling and distributing dangerous goods. Ver accepted a deal to get 10 months in jail.
He continues to believe that the charges against him are politically motivated, as he openly criticized authorities when he ran as a Libertarian for the California State Assembly in 2000.
There is, of course, no way to prove this. However, Wehr says he was the only one of dozens of dealers accused of selling the fireworks, and that the manufacturer, Max2000, which sold a million of them, simply agreed to stop selling them the following year.
Vera’s opponents constantly cite his criminal record to discredit him. In November 2019, Nouriel Roubini (aka Dr. Doom) attacked him in a debate in London for allegedly being a convicted felon. Afterwards, Wehr said it was proof of his victory.
The fact that he attacked me for selling fireworks on eBay, which has nothing to do with whether cryptocurrencies are good for the world, is a pretty clear sign that I’ve fallen through, in my opinion.
Life in prison was particularly difficult for this freedom-loving libertarian, although he admits that boring times were preferable to anything exciting. Excitement in prison is never good excitement, he says. It’s just bad excitement. And also the longest 10 months of my life, that’s for sure.
This is my story of torture in prison, but I’m not the only one.https://t.co/eHZuvfUA6E#FreeRoss pic.twitter.com/hhWoCIIauP
– Roger Wehr (@rogerkver) July 5, 2018
A few days after his arrival, a prison officer held a knife to his face and began pestering him with questions about who Ver was planning to kill, convincing him that Ver would get two more years on top of his sentence.
Startled, Ver began to cry and plead with the guard: It’s not mine, I don’t know where it came from. Seeing her obvious frustration, the guard suddenly smiled and tapped her on the shoulder. Relax, I’m just teasing you. Sit down.
Ver considers it psychological torture. I think he was just bored, and it was entertainment for him: Let’s go talk to the new one, he said. The prisoners know that the guards can do whatever they want. I don’t know if he was trying to teach that to a beginner. I think everyone realized that very quickly.
On the last day, he found his moment of revenge (albeit small). Ver remembers what the jailer said as he came through the door: Oh, you’ll come back.
I said: No, I don’t, but you do. You will come here every day until you retire.
Skid Row to Santana Row
Wehr earned his first million a year after his release, and guards had to visit him in his luxurious new apartment on Santana Row in San Jose.
It was an interesting experience talking to these people. They should be my bosses, telling me I’m a terrible person and making sure I’m not doing anything wrong, but I live in one of the fanciest apartment complexes in Silicon Valley, he says.
I had far more financial resources than they did. But they had much more legal power over me and my life, so it was a bit of an uncomfortable power balance. Vera’s sentence included three years’ probation. Eventually, Wehr said goodbye to the United States for good and went to Japan.
I was thrown in jail for what I said. And so the day I was allowed to leave the United States, I left the United States and never lived there again.
He retired and spent most of his time working on Jiu-Jitsu and participating in tournaments. He has a brown belt now, but he still does it for an hour every day.
He first heard about bitcoin while listening to the libertarian radio program Free Talk Live in 2011. His ears prick up when he talks about buying drugs on the Silk Road. He is not interested in drugs, he is fascinated by the way users can pay with money that is not controlled by the state.
I thought so: Okay, that’s the next big thing. This is the chance I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It is kryptonite to the state in the ability of the government to control the people. I want to promote this activity full time.
Unlike many new investors attracted to the get-rich-quick aspect of cryptocurrencies, Ver was already rich when he discovered bitcoin and was able to look at it differently.
I had a Lamborghini before Bitcoin was invented. And I sold the Lamborghini to buy more Bitcoin. But once I had the money, it became much, much easier to join, he says.
According to some reports, Ver collected about 400,000 BTC that would be worth $20 billion today – although he gave most of it away to convert non-believers.
Ver has also invested in much of the cryptosphere’s fundamental infrastructure, including Bitpay, Zcash, Kraken and Blockchain.info (now Blockchain.com). He was a co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation and an advisor to Binance. And of course, he spreads the news about the launch of Bitcoin Cash through Bitcoin.com. Although he is popularly known as the Jesus of bitcoin, he sees himself more as the Johnny Appleseed of bitcoin, who planted the seeds from which the huge companies we know today were born.
While cryptocurrencies have made him an extremely wealthy man, they have also given Way’s life a meaning and purpose that he might not have had. The most obvious answer I can give is that the meaning of life is to enjoy every day of your journey, he says. So figure out what makes you happy and try to do that.
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