Shapeshift.io CEO Erik Voorhees was involved in a fireside chat with Factom Foundation Chairman of the Board David Johnston at the Texas Bitcoin Conference back in late March, and it was during this conversation that Voorhees revealed the reasoning behind his revised stance on alternative cryptocurrencies. Although Voorhees had been somewhat of a “bitcoin maximalist” in the past, his views on altcoins and appcoins seem to have evolved over the course of his time in the Bitcoin industry. Johnston made note of this during the discussion, and Voorhees attempted to explain his line of thinking when it came to experimenting with new tokens and launching a cryptocurrency exchange.
Voorhees’s Original Stance on Altcoins
Before getting into his current stance on altcoins, Voorhees covered his old views on alternative digital assets:
“I think I gave kind of a rant down in South America once at one of the conferences about altcoins and what I thought of them, and in general the belief is that money is a way of measuring value. It’s a measurement, just like kilometers are a way of measuring distance. And just as it doesn’t make sense to have hundreds of ways to measure distance — you know, two in the world is bad enough — it also doesn’t make sense to have lots of different monies. So, that was my belief.”
Where Does He Stand Now?
Much of the Bitcoin community still does not see much value in alternative token systems, but it’s clear that Voorhees is leaving the door open when it comes to coins that do something unique that cannot be achieved with Bitcoin. He explained:
“What changed was that I realized that to the extent that a certain money is different it can have a niche use where the primary money does not appropriately fit in. So, what we see now are lots of these altcoins — alternative digital assets of various kinds — that do things that are fundamentally unique from Bitcoin. They are not just replicating Bitcoin and tweaking a few parameters. You know, I would say Litecoin does that.”
Altcoins that don’t offer much of anything different from Bitcoin, such as Litecoin or Dogecoin, still seem to be off the table for Voorhees from a speculative investment perspective. Having said that, both of those altcoins are available for trade on Voorhees’s Shapeshift.io trading platform.
Which Coins Does Voorhees See as Valuable?
So, which alternatives to Bitcoin does Voorhees see as valuable? During his fireside chat with David Johnston, Voorhees pointed out a few of the coins that track the value of the US dollar:
“Good examples are things like Nubits, BitUSD, or Tether. All three of these track the value of the [US] dollar, and that is something fundamentally different that Bitcoin does not and cannot do. And so, there is a certain value there.”
In addition to asset-tracking digital tokens, Voorhees also seems to have a soft spot for cryptocurrencies that focus on anonymity and privacy. The Shapeshift.io CEO had this to say on an episode of deBitcoin in February:
“To the extent that there are coins that do something unique and they can find a niche — you know, [Dash] is more private than Bitcoin. And there is certainly a need for more privacy. Anything that has a certain niche and a certain ability to fill that I think can coexist [with Bitcoin], but in terms of raw money I think Bitcoin blows away everything else.”
Although Erik Voorhees isn’t ready to support every altcoin under the sun, it’s clear that he’s become a bit more open-minded when it comes to the possibilities involved with alternative digital token systems. Bitcoin still holds an extremely large share of the overall cryptocurrency market (nearly 90% when not including XRP), but it’s clear that there is still a thirst for alternatives to Bitcoin this far into 2015. As more features are also added to Bitcoin over the next few years, it will be interesting to see which alternatives are able to survive.