When I jumped on a WhatsApp call with 41-year old Didi Taihuttu, he was a few days away from joining his family on CoinBank’s annual Mediterranean “Blockchain Cruise” — a combination vacation getaway and crypto symposium at which all the movers and shakers in the decentralized finance arena get together to discuss a hypothetical future where government-printed money is rendered obsolete, dropping by Mallorca and Marseille along the way.
According to Taihuttu, invitations to blockchain conferences and seminars have piled up ever since he liquidated almost everything he owned (yes, including his house and his cars) and invested his remaining capital in bitcoin. It’s a financial pivot that’s both irrational and dangerous to an outsider, but within the crypto nation, it can make you a legend.
Taihuttu was born in the Netherlands, and before going all in on bitcoin, he ran a company that taught tech literacy to people in need. Today, though, he, his wife, and their three kids are in constant transit. After the family ditched their house and consolidated all their money, they lived on a campsite in the Netherlands for a few months before moving to Thailand (a country that’s become a haven for anyone looking to live outside of banking institutions).
Now back in the Netherlands, he tells me that he bought the lion’s share of his bitcoin when the prices were hovering around $1,000 and $2,000 in January 2017. He watched from the sidelines as the exchange rate crested past the $19,000 mark the following December. Taihuttu, however, has never fully cashed out. So as the market corrected and bitcoin has embraced a much more modest valuation of $7,000, Taihuttu never divested himself. Today, he says he’s in it for the long haul.
Taihuttu’s gambit isn’t entirely unique. As cryptocurrency has shifted from a semi-legal hacker’s bounty into an unavoidable fixture in the financial industry, more and more people have opted to ditch the banks entirely and live a decentralized life. There’s an entire community of so-called “crypto nomads,” who live port to port, country to country, with little more than their laptops and their coin tickers. Taihuttu, of course, is an exception; the vast majority of crypto nomads are young, single men, so he’s almost certainly one of the only people who’s wrapped up his wife Romaine and their daughters Joli, Juna, and Jessa in the lifestyle. But that’s a designation he’s learned to embrace.
Taihuttu branded himself as the patriarch of the Bitcoin Family; he runs a website under that name that hosts his blog and his YouTube channel, and he wears a tattoo of the bitcoin logo on his left arm. We talked about the impetus to put all of his money into bitcoin, any lingering regrets he felt after the 2018 crash, and the conversation it took to get his wife to sign on with the plan.
When did you discover bitcoin? When did bitcoin come into your life?
I was still running my business. There was an internship, and a guy came into my company in 2013. And he said, “Have you ever heard of bitcoin?” He told me everything, and I invested into mining bitcoin. It was an evolution to disrupt systems because I’ve always been fighting against systems — I’m not a normal guy.
[It also interested me] because I could become a millionaire. At that point in my life, I was still very after the money.
What was the impetus to convert everything to bitcoin?
I was in Bali at the end of 2016, around Christmas. My father died, and I started selling my companies and traveling the world with my family already. A friend called me and said, “Do you still have your bitcoins?” I said yeah, I still have them, but I’m not looking at them at all. This was January 2017, and he told me to start looking at them again. [Bitcoin was in the beginning stages of a massive boom, doubling in value several times.] I did, and I was like, “Okay, the revolution is starting.” So I told my wife let’s go all in.
I sold my cars online and bought bitcoins off them. We sold our house for bitcoin.
Do you have an estimate of how much you put into bitcoin when you went all in?
Yes but have never shared it with the public. Just everything we had, so more than $100,000, but less than $1 million.
What do you remember about that conversation with your wife?
Of course, at first, it was a shock. She almost [fainted]. When I started mining in 2013, I lost my confidence in bitcoin in 2014 after the first crash. So all my wife knew about [bitcoin] was that I bought a bunch of computers for 4,000 euros and I sold them a year later because the thing I was talking about was crashing. She wasn’t ready to go all in.
But I told her, “Let’s look at our lives, and our kids, we’ve been spoiling them. Let’s do it to educate our kids.” That’s the part she really liked, showing our kids a decentral lifestyle. That was it. She was like, “Let’s do it.”
What do you mean by that? Your kids being spoiled. Why was that a motivation for going all in on bitcoin?
During our trip, we visited our roots in Indonesia. We visited these very small islands, the Moluccan Islands [where Didi’s father is from]. I was able to show my kids how 90 percent of the people [on the islands we visited] are fishing, and growing rice, and don’t have bank accounts. It gets you thinking about the fundamentals of bitcoin and blockchain.
We had been very [materialistic,] even when with all the money we had, I couldn’t save my father from a sickness. I couldn’t cure him of cancer. I couldn’t do nothing. It made me realize that money wasn’t important to us anymore; it was important to be with my family.
You said yourself earlier that you’re not a normal guy, and I’m sure your wife knows you well enough that she wasn’t completely surprised that you had this idea, right?
Yeah, that’s one thing, and the other thing is I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve been running businesses for 15 years. I have a crazy idea every day of my life. My brain is running is 24/7 with crazy things that I speak to her about. And most of the things she says, “Oh, Didi, man, that’s crazy.” So I’m very lucky that she said, “Sounds good, let’s do it.”
What was the rest of 2017 like? You get back from Indonesia, you sell the house, you were living on a campsite for a while. What was that like?
We sold the house in September and we lived on the campsite, but the media found out. So five days a week, there was media. They flew in from the US and Australia, so the campsite was bombed with media. At that point, I was really addicted to trading. It was a boom market. Eventually my wife looked at me and said, “Didi, this is really not healthy, you’ve gained 15 kilo [33 pounds] by just sitting at your laptop, we are just talking to cameras and media. This isn’t what we chose to do.” That’s when we booked tickets to Thailand. In Thailand, we found a community for traveling families, and we stayed there for three or four months.
When you’re in Thailand, or any other country that uses a lot of paper money, do you convert your bitcoin into hard cash ever?
We always stay in a small town in Thailand where there are three restaurants, six hotels, and two bars that all accept bitcoin. We also always carry our Wirex cards [a decentralized debit card-like service that allows users to store cryptocurrency on the balance]. So if we need to, we cash our bitcoin at an ATM and take the money. We try to minimize it, and it’s getting easier [to minimize it] every day.
And you’re back in the Netherlands now, right?
Yes, we returned to the Netherlands in March because my brother was having his first child, so I wanted to be there for that. But we are leaving this Saturday again. I’ve been speaking at conferences; I just got back from one in Bulgaria. And now we are joining the Blockchain Cruise from Barcelona to Rome.
So you’re really deep in the community now.
Yeah, I’ve met all the people that are huge in this industry. They all understand why we are doing this. They all can’t believe that we as a family are doing it. They understand how they’re able to do it and travel the world as single guys. But they’re like, “Wow, you’re doing this as a family.” They’re very supportive.
2017 was a wild year for bitcoin. What were your thoughts when it hit that $20,000 peak? Was there ever a moment where you thought about cashing out?
Of course there were many moments where I thought about cashing out, but at that point I would’ve cashed out and [put it in other coins] because I really didn’t want to use the bank system anymore.
You started buying your bitcoin when it was around $1,000. When you were looking at such a huge return on your investment, did you want to get your normal life back?
There were a few times. There was a moment where we thought if we cashed out, we could have our life forever. But we wanted to live decentral. We don’t want a house. We need a few thousand a month to live. So when bitcoin starts dropping, it’s like, “Okay, of course.” I didn’t expect it to drop to 16,000, 13,000, shit, 10,000. At 10,000, you’re like leave it, man. You don’t have to get out now. Just leave it forever.
Did you ever have any regrets? Were you ever bummed out about the crash?
I’d be lying if [I said] you never get bummed out. We could’ve sold more. We could’ve tripled our bitcoin stash. But as a rule, I’m always positive. The glass is always half full. I don’t get down about what I’ve lost. I’m still in the plus; I still have my bitcoin, I still have my family, and we wake up happy and healthy every day.
Are you still trading coins? Or are you just sitting on it?
I still trade because I like it. Not as much as I did, but I don’t short bitcoin. I’m waiting now. I’m waiting for bitcoin to correct.
So you’re in it for the long haul.
I’m never going to leave it now, because it changed our lives into this cryptocurrency life. This Bitcoin Family life. I speak at conferences, we wrote a book, so why would I ever change that?
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