*** Butterfly Labs Scammer Investigation Abstract ***Josh Zerlan or anyone from BFL is welcome to openly debate me or answer any of these questions on my DonkDown podcast or any other format we can just record and upload for free for everyone to hear
Some of you may remember the Pirateat40 & BCST debacle [ http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/15/3243200/bitcoin-ponzi-schemes-savings-and-trust
]. It cost the community ~$5M when delimited in USD. Myself and other members of the community feel a similar situation may be going on at Butterfly Labs. They are in the race for ASIC mining technology, along with a handful of other groups. Their goal is to be first-to-market with a chip that mines bitcoins at an extremely fast and energy efficient rate. As of 1/23/2013 a competing company that BFL references many times as their competition claims to have shipped their first batch of ASIC miners: [ https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=137534.0
] Many of you, like me, have noticed the outlandish spending on advertising asking for pre-orders for ASIC devices. While I spend most of my time helping to run SealsWithClubs and have a brand new baby girl, after my interaction with BFL representatives on the floor of CES 2013 I now feel it is my responsibility to bring a full investigation into this company. I further understand that many bitcoin community members have done much of this research themselves. I hope to collect all links and full information in a fact-based manner. My personal best-guess as to what is going on in general at BFL is that they collected a massive amount (many millions when delimited in USD, exact figure unknown) of pre-orders, thought whatever sourcing they had contracted with could produce working ASIC chips, then there were many delays for many technical reasons likely costing BFL more money, so they responded by massively increasing advertising for more pre-orders. Many ads that are floating around Bitcointalk still say simply "xx Gh/s for $xxx Butterfly labs" when they are clearly not capable of shipping said product at this time. It is impossible to know the exact current state of the company, but it is my impression after my personal interactions with the company executives that they are stressed an lying to the public. They may have a hail-Mary play gambling community pre-order money on another run of chips, or they may have absolutely no product and collecting as much as possible before they go belly-up, either legally with a chapter whatever bankruptcy or illegally by jumping on a plane with a thumbdrive full of BTC. 1 man's thoughts, 1 man's investigation. I smell a rat and I think this one may set the record for biggest btc community loss, previously held by Pirateat40.
Questions I feel the community deserves answers to:
"What hardware did you bring to CES 2013? Where you mining at CES 2013?"
"How much in USD have you collected in pre-orders?"
"Are you using the pre-order monies to fund current R&D?"
"Are you using the pre-order monies to pay current salaries?"
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------*** Butterfly Labs Company Information [ty lucif] ***
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------*** Butterfly Labs Link Dump ***http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/6/prweb9611889.htm
<-- initial press release 7/15/2012 citing "private venture capital" as backing the company. BitcoinTalk Butterfly Labs ASIC Thread [active]: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=87934.0
[6/16/2012 OP date]Avalon ASIC Batch #1 shipping thread: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=137534.0elux's BFL scammer thread, concerning Sonny Vleisides: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=110805.0Sonny Vleisides "intro" thread as BFL_Sonny: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=110868.0Codinginmysleep Sonny Vleisides interview: http://codinginmysleep.com/interview-with-sonny-vleisides/Video of Josh Zerlan, Butterfly Labs CEO on the floor of CES 2013 when I asked about the BFL hardware: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlWrmIqGs3Y&feature=youtu.be&t=2m20s JoshZerlan.com launched. http://joshzerlan.com/
Help requested on adding info.Information on a possible past crime committed by Josh Zerlan
Micon v mrb betting thread on this matter: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=135914.0
*** Day 2 2013 CES Encounter with Josh Zerlan of Butterfly Labs ***
13 minute youtube cue'd to the part where I ask Josh Zerlan of Butterfly Labs to show me the equipment he brought to CES 2013 and he instead uses profanity, hands me a quarter, and refuses to answer the questions of what he knew at this point was a well-informed skeptic:
** Josh Zerlan has claimed I was acting in a manner on Day 1 CES 2013 that warranted this response from him. Josh was not in the booth on day 1, only Dave.
full 2013 bitcoin CES thread: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=133487.0
My account of day1 when asked in the CES 2013 thread : https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=133487.msg1452374#msg1452374
I am re-posting my day1 account below this epic pic:
Bryan Micon's Account of Day1 Interaction with BFL @ CES 2013:
This is to the best I can remember. I wasn't recording anything day 1, wasn't planning on anything but sneaking into CES to shake some BTC hands as I always do when BTC companies buy booths in Vegas for conventions.
1) About "sneaking in" to CES: I always "sneak in" to all conventions I want to go to here in Vegas. I wear my WSOP media badge from a few years ago and just walk in like a boss. Sure I could call whatever bitcoin-facing booth is there and have them give me a badge for the ~30 minutes I'll be there. As will all conferences, the booth buyers usually need to pay extra for another badge, or at the very least pull a "hey let me use your badge and then I walk out with 2 badges and give one to you" - I "sneak in" because it is +EV for everyone involved. Next time, if ever, BFL comes to the conference I will acquire a legitimate badge as it was clear they called security to have me removed.
2) About the "stomping and cussing" on day 1 that Josh keeps referring to. First off, Josh was not there day 1. Only Dave was in the booth representing BFL. I imagine Josh was off doing Yoga or other form of meditation & self-reflection. We will get to that in a second. Let's start at the beginning:
3) Whenever a bitcoin booth at any conference comes to Vegas, I go to say hi, shake a hand, say "hey, I'm Micon. I help Freemoney run SealsWithClubs, the market leading bitcoin online poker site." And just see who is there and what they want to talk about, trade bitcoin ideas for ~20-30 minutes then be on my way. I have done this many times and met a bunch of BTC industry leaders. Erik Voorhees I met this way and he is an amazingly awesome human, and Charlie Shrem I met I think at the same Money2020 conference maybe 6 months ago or so at Aria, and I had Charlie on my donkdown podcast for an awesome interview about the bitinstant operation based in New York. I was skeptical about parts of bitinstant and bitpay at the start, but when I asked the company directors of those organizations I was met with clear answers and follow up interviews.
4) Ok so I was on the same grind on day 1 CES - just go and meet the boys again, shake some hands, congratulate bitpay on the round of funding, etc. My daughter was born ~ 2 weeks ago but I made time before picking my parents up at the airport to stop by CES to do this because I feel it is very important, + I'm a huge nerd and CES is nerd porn. Right after the nerd porn convention they have a real porn convention here but that's not the point of this story. When I found the Bitpay booth, I didn't realize they would be sharing a booth with BFL, in fact I was very excited to see BFL equipment on display and I planned on asking some extremely nerdy questions about how the hardware will solve the proof-of-work problem much, much faster than current equipment. I also wanted to understand the metrics of what ASIC will do to the network hash rate, as I understand mining conceptually but not technically.
5) Dave immediately engaged me when I walked near the BFL equipment. I congratulated him on selling a large amount of pre-orders. he said in a smug way "yeah... we've done very well" To a studied poker professional such as myself, his body language gave me the impression that this man felt by collecting the pre-order monies he has already done well. If I were in his shoes, the first thing I would have said was "We have a huge responsibility to get these things shipped ASAP. The community has handed us a large amount of money" I would feel like the weight of the world was on my shoulders to make good on the massively distributed promise of sending these machines. Dave felt like a winner, IMO.
6) I asked very plainly "is this your ASICs" or something to that effect. This is when it got predatory. He showed me the box of fans + 1 android tablet and said that is where ASIC chips will eventually go, and the android device will be the output screen to show you how fast it's mining and other stats. I asked what the cube connected to a second android sitting on top of the fan-box was, and Dave said it's an FPGA miner that BFL used to sell, but it wasn't currently mining and you can't buy it from BFL anymore. I asked Dave what items were available for purchase right now from BFL that they could ship immediately, he said there were none. I then asked when they would ship ASICs, he said "in a couple of weeks," and showed me 3 cases that ASIC chips would come inside.
7) After it was clear I was no longer a friendly and was asking some tough questions, he hit me with a classic scammer line something to the effect of "if you don't believe in BFL, then you don't believe in bitcoin." This is where the "stomping and profanity" as Josh put it came in. Please don't take Josh's or My word for it - Ask the bitpay guys about this next part - I give a very intelligent response to Dave, certainly using profanity for emphasis (but not in the personally derogatory way that Josh Zerlan does to me here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlWrmIqGs3Y&feature=youtu.be&t=2m43s
) more like "I believe so much in bitcoin that I wear this fucking button (point to bitcoin button I always wear when leaving the house for any reason) each day, and help run the market leading bitcoin online poker site, dedicating most of my awake time to the betterment of this technology." Ask the bitpay guys. I was certainly pissed off, and this guy used a classic scammer line on me and IMO it required a forceful response so Dave understands that I'm a real guy with real BTC credentials, and his line is bullshit and +1's in my head that he and his company are dishonest.
After my response, emotions briefly settled, and I asked him when filled with ASICs how fast this machine would hash at. He said something like 1+ T-hashes per second. I.e. 1000 ghashes/s , would produce in terms of Dave did not know network hashrate. I told him it wasn't a test, just tell me about how many T-hashes/s the network hash rate was. Dave said he still didn't know, so I quickly looked it up on my Galaxy Note II by Samsung running Android Jellybean OS by removing the S-pen and quickly speaking into google "total bitcoin network hashrate" This site came up: http://bitcoin.sipa.be/
and to me it looks like the current total bitcoin network hashrate is around 20-25 Thash/s - which means that if Dave was right, just one of these boxes could have ~ 6% of total current network hashing power. I was surprised he had never run the math before...
9) so after this, I post the pic I took and illustrated that BFL did not bring anything worthwhile to CES. I posted on bitcointalk that I'd be back tomorrow to film closely and ask the tough questions. Obviously we all saw Josh Zerlan's response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlWrmIqGs3Y&feature=youtu.be&t=2m43s
If there is anything that needs clarification please ask. I am 100% transparent. I further state that it is possible I have made a small chronological or grammatical error of some sort. I feel I captured the general feel of the day 1 CES experience as it relates to BFL.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------*** Josh Zerlan exhibits low-confidence tells at CES 2013 when a different reporter asks about when the actual ASICs will be shipped ***
I have the video cue'd to a few seconds before so you can hear the reporter ask the questions then see Josh's reply, notice the down-left eye movement at 4:41 mark. This is a classic, instant, involuntary low-confidence tell that comes from the limbic part of the brain:http://youtu.be/5ZUPniBo5UQ?t=4m29s
-------------------------------------------------------------*** Info Still Needed ***
-- Full list of principals of BFL
-- Any sourcing info, i.e. links where any BFL has either denied saying where they are being produced at or listing a location, country, or company that is producing them.