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After the Bust, Are Bitcoins More Like Tulip Mania or the Internet?

SAN FRANCISCO — When you talk to tech industry insiders about where Bitcoin is heading, two vastly different comparisons are inevitable: the tulip bulb and the internet.Bitcoin’s critics say the digital tokens are like the tulip bulbs of 17th-century Holland. They generated a wild, speculative rush that quickly disappeared, leaving behind nothing but pretty flowers and wrecked bank accounts.Bitcoin believers, on the other hand, want us to think about cryptocurrencies as if they were the internet: a broad technology category that took some time to reach its potential, even though expectations got ahead of reality in the early years. If that’s true, last year’s crash in Bitcoin…

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China, a Major Bitcoin Source, Considers Moving Against It

HONG KONG — China is planning new steps that could put a stop to making Bitcoin there, a move that could cut off one of the world’s largest sources of the popular but unstable cryptocurrency.The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning body, this week added cryptocurrency mining to a list of about 450 industries that it proposes to eliminate. If the move is finalized, local governments in China would be prohibited from supporting makers of Bitcoin and other digital currencies through subsidies or other benefits.The commission said it would seek public comment until May 7 before making a final decision.China was once the world’s…

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Amid Bitcoin Uncertainty, ‘the Smart Money Knows That Crypto Is Not Ready’

SAN FRANCISCO — Paul Chou was among the many Bitcoin aficionados who thought big Wall Street institutions were about to become heavy hitters in the cryptocurrency markets.Mr. Chou came from one of those institutions, Goldman Sachs, and created a cryptocurrency exchange, LedgerX, that would cater to big investors with sophisticated financial contracts.Now, in the wake of last year’s Bitcoin crash, Mr. Chou is being forced to confront how few of the big finance companies acted on their cryptocurrency plans.“It was definitely part of the original plan that institutions would be a big part of this market,” he said. “We were wrong.”Goldman Sachs said it was opening a…

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Bitcoin Tycoon Who Oversaw Mt. Gox Implosion Gets Suspended Sentence

TOKYO — A Tokyo court handed down a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on Monday to the former head of Mt. Gox, a cryptocurrency exchange that helped establish Bitcoin as a household name before spectacularly imploding amid allegations of mismanagement.Still, Mark Karpelès, the French national who presided over Mt. Gox’s rise to become the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, will not serve additional time if he remains on good behavior.The verdict ended a more-than-five-year ordeal for Mr. Karpelès, who was found guilty on a charge of falsifying data but innocent of two additional charges of embezzlement and breach of trust. He was arrested in August 2015 and held for almost…

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How a Bitcoin Evangelist Made Himself Vanish, in 15 (Not So Easy) Steps

In October 2017, a SWAT team descended on Jameson Lopp’s house in North Carolina. Someone — it still isn’t clear who — had called the police and falsely claimed that a shooter at the home had killed someone and taken a hostage. After the police left, Mr. Lopp received a call threatening more mayhem if he did not make a large ransom payment in Bitcoin.To scare off future attackers, Mr. Lopp quickly posted a video on Twitter of himself firing off his AR-15 rifle. He also decided he was going to make it much harder for his enemies — and anyone else — to find him ever…

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Facebook and Telegram Are Hoping to Succeed Where Bitcoin Failed

SAN FRANCISCO — Some of the world’s biggest internet messaging companies are hoping to succeed where cryptocurrency start-ups have failed by introducing mainstream consumers to the alternative world of digital coins.The internet outfits, including Facebook, Telegram and Signal, are planning to roll out new cryptocurrencies over the next year that are meant to allow users to send money to contacts on their messaging systems, like a Venmo or PayPal that can move across international borders.The most anticipated but secretive project is underway at Facebook. The company is working on a coin that users of WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, could send to friends and family instantly, said five…

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Behind Tech’s Shine, Some Warnings Signs Appear

SAN FRANCISCO — Don’t look now: Storm clouds are gathering over tech.Chinese consumers have pulled back their spending, blowing a $9 billion hole in Apple’s recent quarterly revenue. China was again a culprit when Nvidia warned last month that its revenue would come in 20 percent below expectations, though the graphics chip maker also blamed slack demand from Bitcoin miners and cloud data centers.Intel, the big chip maker, cited intensifying “trade and macro concerns” for financial results in January that did not meet expectations. And Samsung, another semiconductor powerhouse, said sales plunged 10 percent in the fourth quarter because of weakening demand for its memory chips from…

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Remember Bitcoin? Some Investors Might Want to Forget

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Last year around this time, a toy called a cryptokitty sold for $170,000. A real estate agent remade himself as CoinDaddy, producing cryptocurrency-themed music videos. The man behind a company called Ripple became for a moment richer than Mark Zuckerberg. Kids barely out of high school were buying Lamborghinis because of a crypto meme. Experts went on CNBC to say Bitcoin was going to reach $100,000 per coin.For a few sweet months of 2018, all of Silicon Valley was wrapped up in frenzied easy money and a fantasy of remaking the world order with cryptocurrencies and a related technology called the blockchain. A…

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Iranians Accused in Cyberattacks, Including One That Hobbled Atlanta

Two Iranians were behind the ransomware attack that crippled Atlanta’s government for days this year, the Justice Department said in an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, detailing a sophisticated scheme of attacks on hospitals, government agencies and other organizations.The men, Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, chose targets with complex yet vulnerable systems — organizations that could afford to pay ransoms and needed to urgently restore their systems back online, prosecutors said.In the case of Atlanta, one of the most sustained and consequential cyberattacks ever launched against a major American city, the pair broke into the city’s computer systems and held their data hostage for about…

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5 Reasons Cryptocurrency Prices Are Plunging Again

SAN FRANCISCO — The news on Wall Street this week has been bleak: sharp declines, fears of a bear market and high-flying technology stocks that suddenly took a tumble.Traditional stock investors may be taking a beating, but they should be glad they didn’t put their money in cryptocurrencies. As of Wednesday, the price of a Bitcoin had fallen about 25 percent in a week and was down more than 75 percent from its peak in December.Other digital tokens have fallen even more sharply in value.The latest declines are occurring almost a year after cryptocurrency markets, fueled by a rush of new, wealthy investors, went into overdrive. There…

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