FREE NEWSLETTER

Voyage to Nowhere

Michael Flack

“REGRETS, I’VE HAD a few. But then again, too few to mention.”

What was true for Frank Sinatra most definitely isn’t true for me. I’ve had more than a few regrets, and I want to mention the most recent one.

Late last year, Mark Cuban offered me $100 in bitcoin to download the Voyager app, deposit $100 and make a $10 trade. For those of you who are lucky enough not to know what Voyager was, it was an app that offered “a secure way to trade over 60 different crypto assets using its easy-to-use mobile application.”

I’ve been retired now for a few years. Since idle hands are the devil’s workshop, I’ve used some of the time to accept bonuses offered by brokers, banks and financial institutions. Besides the obvious reward, I find these offers to be educational, though this time it was a little too educational.

Like most people, I was intrigued when I first heard about bitcoin. After a colleague explained to me its inner workings and all the benefits of the blockchain, I was fascinated. I really thought that bitcoin might be worthy of investment.

This didn’t last long. I realized that bitcoin may not be all it was cracked up to be when, a few hours later, I tried to explain it all to my wife and none of it made any sense.

I should have gone on living bitcoin-free. But when Cuban made me the offer, I figured that—even if bitcoin went to zero—I would still have my original $100. I decided to play it safe. I made the required $10 trade with a quick roundtrip in and out of tether, a cryptocurrency designed to trade one-to-one with the U.S. dollar.

In the end, I decided not to sell the bitcoin that Cuban gave me. I figured that if there was something to this cryptocurrency thing that had eluded my less-than-discerning eye, I could use the rubric “nothing ventured nothing gained” and ride it all the way to financial independence. It also allowed me the more tangible benefit of mentioning at cocktail parties that, “Of course I’m invested in bitcoin.” That said, I should have transferred the $100 in cash that was mine back to my bank, but I may have become preoccupied with taking Personal Capital up on its $25 offer.

Well, on July 1, 2022, Voyager informed me that it had “made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend trading, deposits, withdrawals, and loyalty rewards,” though it would still allow users “to view market data and track your portfolio.”

I could view my investments. I just couldn’t withdraw them. Apparently, my money had been loaned to an outfit called Three Arrows Capital. The crypto hedge fund failed to repay the $670 million it borrowed from Voyager, which triggered Voyager’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on July 6.

While I always knew my bitcoin investment could go to zero, I figured that the sliver of bitcoin and the $100 in my account would still be mine. I never thought they would be loaned to another company. Yes, I should be more concerned about my losses in the stock market year-to-date and not the measly $100 I “invested” in Voyager. Still, the whole thing is rather upsetting. Nobody wants to be the mark, especially for someone like Mark Cuban.

Voyager is currently exploring “strategic alternatives with various interested parties while preserving the value of the Voyager platform.” I hope this will allow me to “access” my $100 and 0.000046 of a bitcoin, but I’m doubtful. I’m just thankful I didn’t “invest” more. I now have the meager benefit of being a little warier of making similar future investments—though I’m also thinking Garlicoin may be a way to make my money back.

Browse Articles

Subscribe
Notify of
21 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bob Th
Bob Th
4 months ago

I think I invested in Voyager – USDC after reading an article here by Mike Zaccardi. As you said the app is currently read only and watching $2000 in USDC not being able to withdraw is very frustrating. Will be lucky if I get back some pennies.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Th

Bob Th, it appears Voyager has a plan to get through bankruptcy. Though I’m not sure how much of my money this plan will return to me. Thanks for your comments.

Joe Daly
Joe Daly
4 months ago

Thanks for dipping your toes in the crypto/bitcoin space. As much as i’ve read, I don’t see a compelling value proposition, or another way of saying I just don’t get it so I do not invest in things I don’t understand.

AKROGER SHOPPER
AKROGER SHOPPER
4 months ago

Michael, thanks for a learning nugget on Bitcoin, and Voyager app. I have borrowed Bitcoin for dummies and must read it upon rising in the morning, as it put’s me to sleep prior to nap time. It is probably best for youngsters to jump on board, but retired folks may better be served by investing no more than the price of a Starbucks coffee in Bitcoin. This small investment will serve to eliminate the fear of missing out, and allow reality to sink in as the Bitcoins hit the bit bucket.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago

AKROGER SHOPPER, I like your Starbuck Bitcoin stratagem.

squirrel hammer
squirrel hammer
4 months ago

I was early to bitcoin, and sold it all in 2017 in order to retire a few years early.

After doing some study and learning more about it I’ve gotten back in. Two comments relevant to your story:

  1. Bitcoin is not ‘crypto’. Crypto is ten thousand bitcoin knockoffs (and VCs, e.g. Mark Cuban) trying to scam you. Bitcoin is the original innovation and grew as a grassroots movement. It’s the only one that is completely decentralized and it comprises the most powerful network of computing power the world has ever seen.
  2. Bitcoiners like to say “not your keys, not your coins.” I.e. if you don’t take your bitcoin off exchanges and hold it privately it is not really yours, and unfortunately your experience demonstrates that.

I think Lyn Alden is one of the most savvy investment analysts out there who is pro-bitcoin. She disregarded it in 2017, but has since added it to her portfolio as a long-term investment. Here’s a recent article of hers on the subject, for anyone who would like to understand it better:
https://www.lynalden.com/gold-and-bitcoin/

Other well known and highly respected investors who own bitcoin include Ray Dalio, Bill Miller, Stanley Druckenmiller, and Paul Tudor Jones.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago

squirrel hammer, First of all, congratulations are your bitcoin score! I’m not sure getting back in that wise, but good luck either way. Secondly, bitcoin IS crypto. Note: your comment “the most powerful network of computing power the world has ever seen” sounds less like financial analysis and more like . . well, let’s just say, go easy on kool-aid. Thirdly, I don’t know enough to competently comment on the balance of your remarks. I do appreciate the feedback.

squirrel hammer
squirrel hammer
4 months ago
Reply to  mjflack

Okay, perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but looking around I find this in a Forbes article:

the entire bitcoin network is roughly 256 times faster than all the top 500 supercomputers around the globe combined.

So I’d be surprised if there’s ever been any more powerful network of computers dedicated to a single task.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago

squirrel hammer, one definition of powerful is “leading to many or important deductions”, which makes me doubt how powerful bitcoin really is. But I do know it consumes more power annually than Sweden . . . and that’s a lot of power. I appreciate your reply.

Stu
Stu
4 months ago

I told my friends who were bitten by the Crypto mania that I was not interested. When they asked “why not” I said that I was instead buying Tulip futures….

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  Stu

Stu, at least at the back end of the Tulip future there was a tulip bulb.

John Daniels
John Daniels
4 months ago

“A little too educational” is such a great way of describing your experience, and I’m sure many of us can relate.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  John Daniels

John Daniels, thanks for the kind words.

OldITGuy
OldITGuy
4 months ago

Thanks for relating your sad tale of woe. A good belly laugh is a great way to start a leisurely sunday morning for my wife and I. Your story telling expertise is both instructive and entertaining. We loved the punch line at the end.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  OldITGuy

OldITGuy, I like to reward my readers who hang in there. Thanks!

John Goodell
John Goodell
4 months ago

Something we can agree on aside from index funds… crypto is greater fool theory and a massive amount of investment in it is leveraged (still even after this colossal sell off!), so it’s even worse than it appears.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Goodell
mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  John Goodell

John Goodell, agreed!

Larry Sayler
Larry Sayler
4 months ago

Thanks for sharing your “can’t lose” opportunity. I am glad I can experience Voyager vicariously through your story.

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  Larry Sayler

Larry Sayler, thanks for reading!

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
4 months ago

Michael, I think Garlicoin may be leading you into a shaky investment. There are much more solid investments available to you, such as WhopperCoin and PutinCoin, among others. Don’t waste your hard earned money on something that is clearly a joke.

(/s)

mjflack
mjflack
4 months ago
Reply to  Nate Allen

Nate Allen, I appreciate the warning.

Free Newsletter

SHARE