When Bitcoin first appeared out of digital thin air, it was hailed as having the potential to upend the way people spent money. But more than a decade later, cryptocurrency is still only trickling into the mainstream.
This week, Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and said it plans to start accepting it as a form of payment for its electric vehicles. The price of bitcoin immediately spiked, as the move seemed to signal a shift toward broader acceptance of cryptocurrency in general. But is this just another fleeting Elon Musk stunt, or will it actually be a sustainable way of doing business?
This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED staff writer Greg Barber joins us to talk about Tesla's crypto plans, the reemergence of Dogecoin, and why the blockchain hasn't exactly revolutionized currency yet.
Greg recommends the cooking website The Woks of Life. Mike recommends the Off the Record: David Bowie podcast from iHeartRadio. Lauren recommends the New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears on Hulu.
Greg Barber can be found on Twitter @GregoryJBarber. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.
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Advertising note: WIRED Brand Lab is a creative studio from the publisher of WIRED. Gadget Lab and the WIRED newsroom are not involved in the creation of Brand Lab content.
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Lauren Goode: Mike.
Michael Calore: Lauren.
LG: Mike, do you own any cryptocurrencies?
MC: I am sad to say I do not.
LG: Why not?
MC: I don't know. It's just a little bit too volatile for me. I'm a pretty conservative guy when it comes to my money.
LG: I would not describe you as conservative, but I guess fiscally you are.
MC: Sure. I mean, I like taxes as much as the next guy. But prices that go way up and down every 15 minutes, not for me. That's not where I put my money.
LG: All right. Well, we're going to be talking a lot about cryptocurrency in this week's Gadget Lab.
[Gadget Lab intro theme music]
LG: Hey everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode, a senior writer at WIRED.
MC: And I'm WIRED senior editor Michael Calore.
LG: And we're joined this week by WIRED staff writer, Greg Barber. Hey Greg. Nice to see you over the Zoom.
Greg Barber: Hi there. Yeah, good to see you too.
LG: Also, Greg, I don't know if you can see behind me, but I have your WIRED cover with the Crispr cow behind me on my shelf too, along with a few other WIRED covers.
GB: Oh wow. I'm honored. Thank you.
LG: Yeah, just love that cow. All right. Today we're talking about, not about Crispr cows. Today we're talking about Tesla and bitcoin. We just can't get away from Elon Musk, who I am increasingly convinced controls this strange, strange simulation we are currently living in. Only this week we won't be talking about Elon himself quite as much as we did last week when he made his appearance on the new Clubhouse app.
This week Tesla announced that it bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and plans to accept it as payment. Elon Musk, Tesla's co-founder and CEO, has long expressed interest in cryptocurrency, as have a lot of other prominent technologists who believe the future is decentralized. So later in the show we're going to talk about other types of cryptocurrency, including Dogecoin, which started as a meme or a joke, but then people actually began trading on it after Musk tweeted about it. But first we're going to talk about Tesla and bitcoin. Greg, you wrote a story on WIRED.com this week about this what's going on.
GB: Well you know, I think a Musk is going to musk is probably the first way to put it. But really there are two elements to this. So the first is, as you say, there's this $1.5 billion investment in bitcoin, and there's kind of a boring answer to why Tesla would be doing this. You know, basically as they put it out in their filing where they had said that they had done this purchase, they said basically, "We can make money off of this." And that's actually something that you've been seeing a lot more, corporations and banks and hedge funds say. They've been basically looking at the landscape of finance right now, and they've been seeing stocks are maybe a little bit overvalued and they've been seeing that they're not going to make much money off of cash or bonds. So actually they're getting more interested in cryptocurrency.
So all these companies that are getting more interested in bitcoin are actually thought to be part of the reason why bitcoin is getting so expensive these days. Basically institutional investors getting in, investors like Tesla, for example, are piling on. They're saying, "We actually think this thing's going to stick around for a while and we think that we can make some money off of it." So that's sort of the simple and also a little bit cynical take why Tesla is interested in bitcoin. They can make money off of it. But then there's this other kind of interesting aspect to Tesla's announcement. And that's that they're actually going to be taking bitcoin for Teslas. In other words you can buy your car with bitcoin. And that I think speaks to a little bit more of the kind of cultural association that one might have between bitcoin and Tesla.
Obviously bitcoin super fans tend to be Tesla super fans, and there actually tends to be a lot of symbiosis between those two groups, so it probably won't surprise anyone at all. So I don't know, it's a little bit unclear how many people are going to be taking up Tesla's offer to spend bitcoin on cars, but it seems like pretty good marketing to me actually in terms of speaking to that bitcoin audience and kind of formalizing all of these associations that we might have in our minds between EV enthusiasts and bitcoin fans.
MC: How would it work exactly? Do I just go to the website and pick out the car that I want and then give them my bitcoin information and then order the car?
LG: Well, Mike you'd have to have bitcoin to do that first, just an FYI. And as you stated at the top of the show, you're not a crypto guy, so.
MC: I'm speaking hypothetically!
LG: [Laughing] Oh, OK, OK.
MC: … for the benefit of our listeners, Lauren.
GB: And that's true, actually. In fact, Mike, you would have had to had one bitcoin at the time that they made this announcement, because that was, the value of a bitcoin was basically equal to the base model three. So just need one. But yeah, so this is something that still needs to be worked out. Tesla has basically said that they plan to take bitcoin at some point in the future. They haven't said anything about the specifics, how they're going to handle the payment processing. A lot of companies will actually say that they're taking your bitcoin, but then they'll actually convert it into something else first. That's typically how bitcoin transactions work. For something like a car it might actually be easier to take bitcoin directly, because just the kind of transaction costs are less meaningful in terms of the total cost of a car. It can be expensive to use bitcoin just because of the energy and the fees that go into trading bitcoin. But that's a long way of saying that, we don't quite know just yet how the logistics will work.
LG: Greg, you've actually just reminded me at the start of the show I wanted to look up how much a single bitcoin was worth and then monitor it so we could gauge the price at the end of the show. OK, right now a single bitcoin is worth $47,892.92. So yeah, let's see if we upgrade our Tesla cars by the time the show ends, depending on how much it fluctuates.
GB: Depends on how much Musk is tweeting through our podcast.
LG: Yeah. So Mike, you had a good question about whether or not we know Elon is actually serious about this, right?
MC: Yeah, like Greg just mentioned, Elon tweets about bitcoin. When he tweets about bitcoin, it actually meaningfully moves the price of bitcoin. I think you mentioned in your story, Greg, that at one point Elon put a hashtag bitcoin in his Twitter bio and the price shot up 20 percent. So, we know that he is fond of using social media to move money markets. As you've mentioned, other companies are interested in bitcoin, investing in bitcoin. Some financial institutions are investing in bitcoin and that collectively is moving the price up. But are we sure this isn't one of Elon's little ploys?
GB: That's a really good question, Mike. I think that, what I should say first is that $1.5 billion, it's a lot of money, even for Tesla. I think they had something like $19 billion of cash on hand as of this announcement. So, I mean, 1.5 billion out of 19, it's a sizeable investment that's happening.
MC: Not a little ploy. Not a little ploy, but a large ploy.
GB: Yeah, that's true. He is also a fan of making large ploys, so who knows? But I do think you bring up a really good point is that this is a really unique investment and that the company itself has so much power over where it goes. We don't know exactly when Tesla made this investment. It could have been in late January. It could have been early February. I'm not sure if anybody has pinned down the exact date, but I mean even adding hashtag bitcoin to Elon Musk's bio. That basically paid off the investment for them. You know, these are ways of seeing this, that this is sort of, it's hard not to believe that there's some kind of calculation that's going into this where, "Hey, they know that they have more control over this asset, then they have control over other assets." So I think that that's definitely a factor in it. As for whether it's a ploy, it's … This doesn't feel like a joke or any kind of play like that from Musk.
LG: And is he just able to tweet like this and it's not regulated in any way? Like no one can stop him from doing this or he's not going to get penalized or fined the way he might for tweeting for 20 years? You do that time.
GB: Yeah. You know, we may have some securities lawyers jumping in the comments hearing me say this, but I don't believe so. In terms of bitcoin being as an independent asset, I'm sure that bankers are free to tweet about gold and how much they think it's great. And that sense, bitcoin is an independent entity from Musk and Tesla, but they do have a lot of influence over it. So I should caveat that by saying, "I am not a lawyer. I've not looked into the regulatory implications of this, but no obvious red flags come up for me."
LG: So what I hear you saying, Greg is that there is a certain legitimacy at this point to bitcoin, which has been around for years, and we're seeing more institutional investors get into it. Earlier this week analysts from RBC, that's Royal Bank of Canada, said that Apple should start buying and accepting Bitcoin, that they could unlock a multi-billion dollar business by doing this. Now there are some bank executives, most famously Jamie Dimon that have long been skeptical about Bitcoin, but even J.P Morgan seems to be coming around to the idea now. So it is becoming more legit, but there are also still a lot of skeptics. And what are the skeptics most concerned about with Bitcoin?
GB: Yeah, so I haven't, Jamie Dimon's relationship with Bitcoin is definitely a moving target. I recall at one point he was calling it a fraud, and then he seems to have kind of toned it down a little bit. And I think he said recently, it wasn't his cup of tea, so.
LG: He downgraded or upgraded.
GB: So perhaps we're reflecting some of his friends maybe getting more … His friends at other banks getting more interested or kind of accepting the legitimacy of Bitcoin. I guess I have a little bit of a philosophical answer to this, which is that the things that we choose to become sort of legitimate assets, like things that we say are going to stick around that we can invest in. Like, this is always a sort of fraught and kind of a fraught territory that has a lot to do with just sort of the narratives and how we talk about certain assets, like there are certain inherent qualities of Bitcoin that make it valuable, scarce, and people are using it in different ways. But then, I think that a lot of people come in with skepticism that, sort of why this thing, why are we treating this particular thing as the thing that is worth something?
And that we're all going to sort of communally come around and, say is as an asset, gold has the advantage of thousands of years of people thinking it's pretty and shiny and it's inherently worth something. Bitcoin only has 10 years of that history. So I could see that certain people in the banking world say, "This isn't a legitimate thing." The one other thing I'll say about that is that there are different concerns about say centralization of power in Bitcoin that say the miners, which are the groups of people who basically run machines that keep the network secure. Like maybe there's too much power concentrated in certain places. Maybe this isn't as secure as we think that it is. So I think there's also skepticism of that. That like, "Hey, maybe this thing actually won't stick around for another 10 years, let alone 50 or a 100 as some people like to think it will."
MC: I'd like to ask about that energy equation. You know, the mining of the Bitcoin, the processing of the transactions, it requires a lot of computing power. And therefore the currency as a whole has a pretty big carbon footprint. Exactly how big that carbon footprint is, is up for debate, because proponents are quick to tell you that somewhere around 70 percent of Bitcoin's energy needs are filled by renewables, but either way, how should we think about the fact that an EV company intent on fighting global warming wants to start accepting a form of payment that is so energy intensive?
GB: Yeah, there's definitely some irony there. I guess I would start with that 70 percent figure that you mentioned, because that's a number that Bitcoin advocates will really tie themselves into knots in order to prove. It's a really, really hard number to pin down though. Part of this is that the sources of energy that go into Bitcoin mining actually change all the time. So recently the value of Bitcoin has been going up a lot. So it's actually been requiring a lot more energy and we don't know where the energy is necessarily coming from. The other aspect is that throughout the year the energy source is actually changed. So sometimes you get more renewable power from dams. There's a wet season in China where a lot of miners will actually migrate physically to be closer to dams, and then it goes back to coal. But I guess, I was thinking about this the other day, looking back on a piece that I wrote, I think two years ago now. It was about a town up in Montana, or not really, a town by Montana standards, it was Missoula, Montana. And so they were actually going through a vote to ban Bitcoin mining locally. And what was interesting is that the mines were actually purchasing power directly from a dam. It was exclusively renewable energy, but the reason why the town wanted to ban Bitcoin mining was because they said, "Hey, if you are using all the power from the dam, then we have to get our power from somewhere else. We have to get it from this giant oil power plant halfway across the state." So it's like anything in this economy where you have finite resources and you need to decide how you want to use your energy. Is it on mining Bitcoin? Is it on server farms? Is it on plugging in your Tesla?
LG: All right, we're going to take a quick break. Before we go to break, let's do a quick Bitcoin check again. All right. Ooh, it looks like the value has gone down a little bit. It's now worth $47,785.18. Elon, If you're out there, you might want to start tweeting. Just kidding, don't tweet any more than you need to. All right, we'll be right back.
LG: In the early days of cryptocurrency, it was hailed as a game changer, a complete revolution of how money is spent. Now there are a bunch of cryptocurrencies out there. Bitcoin is of course the most well-known, but we want to talk about other cryptos and blockchain tech and how we trade money in general. Greg, let's talk about Dogecoin. What the heck is going on with, what is Dogecoin and what is going on with it?
GB: Oh boy. Yes, I guess first a little bit of history. So the origins of Dogecoin are actually kind of basic. It relates to essentially that Bitcoin is an open source technology, which means that people can copy it, they can modify it, they can make their own coins. And so pretty early on in the days of Bitcoin, somebody did this and they decided that Bitcoin was a little bit inaccessible. It was a little scary. So they were going to do something that was more appealing to the masses. And they decided that this would be Dogecoin named after the popular meme involving Shiba Inu, He says things in the kind of language that I'm not going to try to parody right now.
LG: It's a dog, it's a dog-
GB: It's a dog.
LG: Literally on the internet everyone knows this dog.
GB: Yeah. So this has been as like kind of a joke, it wasn't being … People have to maintain Bitcoin and they have to make software upgrades. People were not taking this as seriously, but then honestly to nobody's surprise at all, this became kind of popular and people started buying the coin and it started to have value. People could sell it for more money. So this became a big thing. I think it was in circa 2013. But over time had been sort of forgotten, it was the joke of the past. Until recently when some Redditers got together, this is the same group, same subreddit as the folks driving up the price of GameStop stock in recent days and decided, "You know what? We're going to make this thing happen again." So they basically colluded to, "We're all going to buy a bunch of Dogecoin, drive up the value," and then you get the celebrities who are hopping on the train.
So you've got Elon Musk out there tweeting, all the means and pushing, people to buy it and getting people along. And next thing you know it's gone up many thousands of percent in value, and Dogecoin has been resurrected from the dead. So that's sort of the short history of Dogecoin.
MC: You know, one of the things that you mentioned in your Tesla story is that cryptocurrency, no matter what it is, it really needs to stabilize before people feel OK about spending it. So if you buy Bitcoin tomorrow, then you may not want to spend it because it may be worth twice as much in a week. Once it stabilizes, however, it kind of makes it less valuable as a long-term investment. So how do the experts say that this is going to play out in the future with regards to whether or not it's going to be adopted on a mass scale due to stability?
GB: This is the Bitcoin paradox. So yeah, you either want some of that you can spend and that lots of people are going to use and be interested in, but then how can you possibly do that if, like in the early days people spent a couple of Bitcoin on a pizza, now that's worth $100 million dollars. They're sort of unnecessary conflict between those two things. I think that recently we've seen so much momentum around this idea of investing in Bitcoin, particularly with all these companies getting involved. Like I said before, it can feel at times like the notion of buying a Tesla with Bitcoin is a little bit of a novelty or a little bit of kind of marketing play.
But at the same time, I mean, people are really trying to make it happen. So a lot of the big payments networks have recently said that they'll start taking crypto. Typically what happens, say for example in the case of PayPal, which also wants to enable Bitcoin payments at all of its vendors on its network. What will actually happen is they'll convert the Bitcoin into cash so that the business owner doesn't actually have to deal with any digital coins. So again, it's a little bit more of a symbolic thing. But yeah, I think it is hard to know how it will play out in the longterm. I mean, maybe Bitcoin's price will stabilize enough and you'll start thinking of different things that you might want to buy in terms of Bitcoin, not in terms of dollars or have to convert first.
I guess the last thing that I would add to that though is that there are areas where Bitcoin has proven useful for payments, and they tend to be areas where you just can't really use cash right now. So we've seen examples in places like Venezuela, where there's incredible inflation of the local currency. And so even though super volatile, Bitcoin is still more useful than the local Boulevard or payments to sex workers for example, online. Typically those people are excluded from the traditional payment system and from banks. So things like cryptocurrency have actually proven really useful. It's just a matter of whether it can actually compete with mainstream payments like when you go to Target.
LG: So Greg, to bring it back to Dogecoin really quickly, what you're describing is there are certain places and systems where you can use Bitcoin to buy things. If you're trading in Dogecoin right now, can you actually use Doge to buy anything? Does anyone except it anywhere?
GB: That's a really good question. I believe it has been built into some of the same networks that are allowing Bitcoin payments. I would have to double-check on exactly where. I can come back to you with a list, Lauren, if you're looking to spend your Dogecoin.
LG: Please yeah. Well, I look forward to having a peak San Francisco moment one of these days when I'm just strolling along the mission, wearing my mask, browsing apps on my iPhone, listening to Clubhouse on my iPhone and I go into Sightglass Coffee, and I use Doge to buy a double skin almond milk latte. That's really the moment I'm looking for here.
GB: You mean dystopia, Lauren?
LG: Yes, essentially. OK, so this is kind a long philosophical question about power. But one of the promises of these decentralized systems and goods is that it strips power from institutions, and in this case with Bitcoin it's the banks or central banks. And also you mentioned GameStop, right? So we're talking about this on the heels of all of the GameStop drama, which many people saw as an example of small guy investors beating Wall Street at its own game. But when you have some of the most powerful or richest people in the world backing crypto, whether that's Elon Musk or someone like Jack Dorsey, it makes me wonder what they stand to gain from it, since it's hard to imagine already really powerful people in tech relinquishing a certain amount of power, right? So I kind of wonder what they, like what do they ultimately get out of having these financial transactions decentralized? And also, to Mike's point about cryptocurrency maybe needed to stabilize, aren't the already rich and powerful pretty immune to a certain level of volatility that regular folks might not be?
GB: Exactly. Yeah, I think that's the first principle to go by, which is that high risk assets tend to benefit already wealthy people. There may be singular examples where somebody gets an early on something and by chance they make off like a bandit. But for the most part it's wealthy people who are able to invest in these things and take those risks. I think that Jack Dorsey is a really good example of that, where he's actually said that, he's a big Bitcoin fan, but he's also said that he wants to embrace some kind of decentralized future for Twitter. You think maybe blockchain technology, like some idea that you could have more personal control over your data on the platform or on what you see on the platform. It's all very, very hazy. But I think there's sort of a cynical read on that, which can look at all that sort of empowerment talk and individuals getting to do what they want and sees, maybe this is a company that doesn't want to have to really bear the responsibility for so many decisions.
They're in the business now banning precedents. But wouldn't it be nice if they could kind of say like, "Each person has control over who they see or what they do." And there's sort of a technological solution that takes away that decision-making that they're required to do. We saw that with Libra too, with Facebook's planned cryptocurrency. The idea of using blockchain for a payments network that will kind of stand outside of the normal regulations and rules that the companies have to follow with financial products.
And the idea with the blockchain aspect was, OK, we're going to have this sort of like equal consortium of companies that can kind of all share power and then therefore never really be held accountable for their power, if that makes sense. So I guess it kind of goes back to what we were saying about payments, where there are these very specific use cases where it feels like the sort of original idea of the technology really makes a lot of sense. Just, there are places where just things aren't working and where this is presenting this kind of totally independent alternative for people to buy things, or invest, or what have you.
But then when these things get co-opted by these very powerful entities, you start wondering like, "OK, so what are they trying to avoid? What structures are they trying to avoid that maybe they should be paying attention to?" Things like regulations and responsibility for moderation decisions. So yeah, I think it's a really tricky balance. And I think that, particularly like governments and the people who do regulate these companies and these people, they kind of need to catch up. They need to be thinking about, "OK, if there's a new technology, if there's a new structure of doing business or transacting, how do we kind of still keep that in the fold and keep those people accountable?"
MC: Longtime listeners of the show and longtime readers of WIRED will probably remember this story about the time that we were sent a Bitcoin miner. We asked for and received a review unit of a small Bitcoin miner from Butterfly Labs. And we plugged it in, in the newsroom, turned it on, and we managed to mine 13 Bitcoins. We had long discussions in the newsroom about what we should do with that money. And it was a not insignificant amount of money at the time. We decided that if we gained any benefit from it at all, it would color our coverage of cryptocurrency in the future. So the best thing to do would be to destroy that money, so we did. We ripped up the keys. I believe they were ceremoniously thrown into the bay down by the baseball park.
Louise Matsakis, our former colleague wrote a story about this three years ago. And the headline on that story was, "How WIRED threw away $100,000 in Bitcoin." As you can imagine, the price of 13 Bitcoins is much, much greater now. It is around $540,000 that we threw away so many years ago. Louise spoke with a bunch of sources for this story, and one of them told her that around 20 percent of all coins have been permanently lost. So there are significant technological hurdles that you have to clear in order to understand cryptocurrency, buy cryptocurrency, hold cryptocurrency, and then spend cryptocurrency. And I just wonder what those hurdles have in public confidence of crypto. And also like if 20 percent of the currency is just going to get lost, like what effect does that have on the value?
GB: Yeah. Well, things have changed a lot since those days. I think that one of the biggest changes in cryptocurrency and part of what's actually driven so much interest and in some ways driven up the value so much is that it's just so much easier to hold cryptocurrency, to buy it, to sell it. You can do it basically in the same apps that have also made buying say stocks really easy. Like you can go to Robinhood or you can buy it through, thinking of Dorsey again, through the cash app. There are cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase that make it quite simple. So this was not the case in the early days, which is when many people were doing what's called self-custodying their crypto. And so this depended on basically keeping track of all the passwords and making sure that you could get through all the security hurdles in order to access your Bitcoin.
So a lot of people did actually lose their crypto that way. A lot of people are still really diehards for that model. They say, what is the point of having a cryptocurrency that is independent from the financial system and that is truly mine if I'm just basically giving it to Coinbase and letting them hold onto it and saying, "Pinky promise, we won't do anything with that."
So I would say that overall a lot fewer people are losing their crypto these days in that way. I say that, because so many of those early people who were keeping their crypto by their kind of personal, scrawling a password down on a slip of paper, those are the people who tend to have tremendous amounts of crypto now because they bought like a 100 bucks of Bitcoin and now it's worth millions. So you hear these stories of people who have just lost tremendous amounts of money off of this. I will say that there are often ways to hack these devices where crypto is stored. So I don't know if WIRED has looked into that at all, and if the value gets high enough.
LG: I mean, why would we have to hack a machine? I have an idea. Why don't we just launch a new coin? Why don't we just launch a WIRED coin, Greg?
GB: Yeah, well-
LG: Mike, can I have your permission to work on this project?
MC: Yes, please. I'll take two.
LG: I don't know if you all know. I actually slacked this yesterday to Greg and our business editor. And I said, "Can we create a WIRED meme coin, Alladoge?" And no one responded.
GB: Well, we're just very rude on Slack, so.
LG: Guys, I have a plan to save journalism, oh god. All right, Greg, this has all been super helpful. Stick around. Let's take a break, and when we come back we're going to do our recommendations for the week.
LG: Greg, as our guest of honor, what is your recommendation this week?
GB: My recommendation is a cooking website that is called The Woks of Life. That is W-O-K-S, as in the thing that you cook with. This has been a complete lifesaver for me and my partner throughout the pandemic. And it's a little bit different from other cooking websites I've found in that it really truly does feel like you're kind of learning from a family member. It's actually run by a family. It's like a mother or father and then two adult children. And it just feels like this sort of imparting of wisdom that is happening, particularly around Asian cooking. And my partner is Taiwanese American. So she says that it kind of feels like having her mom in the house who lives far, far away from us. So that has been a transformative presence in my quarantine for the past 10 months.
MC: I'm looking at the website right now and it just looks fantastic. I like that they have a whole section called Chinese takeout. So you can recreate some of your favorite dishes that you might normally order from takeout. And also this is a really good recommendation for the Lunar New Year, which is happening right now.
LG: Yeah. Greg, we should have you back on more often, not only to talk about Bitcoin, but also your cooking suggestions. I mean, they're are a lot better than Gilad's, who's basically like, "You should put mayonnaise on your egg sandwich. Or you should slice lemons and keep it in Tupperware." I hope Gilad is listening to this, just so he knows we're throwing shade..
GB: That's real smart. He's got the actual tips. He's got the-
LG: Right, they're more life hacks.
GB: And just like read a website.
LG: Mike, what's your recommendation this week?
MC: I'm going to recommend a new podcast. It's from the iHeart Radio Network and it's called, Off The Record: David Bowie. So the idea is that the Off The Record podcast, which just launched is going to have a different star for every season. And this season they are concentrating on the life of David Bowie. It is like a biography podcast, so every episode looks at one chunk of David Bowie's life and career. Thankfully he divided up his career into different personas, so each episode explores a different persona. There is the pre-career David Bowie, and then there's the London scene David Bowie. And then there's the space oddity David Bowie. So it just sort of progresses through his career. It is hosted by a guy named Jordan Runtagh, who is one of the co-hosts of another of my favorite music podcasts called Rivals, which is also on the iHeart Radio Network, and I've talked about it on the show before.
This one is Jordan talking to you and reading basically a very well-written script that reads like a biography. So it's sort of like listening to an ebook on David Bowie's life. It's filled with a bunch of surprises. I love David Bowie. I've been listening to him and reading books about him for years. And there were a bunch of surprises in the first two episodes, things that I had never heard before. So the sourcing is really deep and it's a lot of fun, particularly if you're a fan of his music. I would recommend listening to an episode and then listening to an hour of David Bowie's music before going on to the next episode.
LG: Absolutely. This sounds great. I mean, what an inspiration David Bowie was.
MC: Yeah, I agree. I'm inspired by him every day and he's been gone what, five years now. So it's a good opportunity to go back and revisit him. Anyway, on a brighter note, Lauren, what's your recommendation?
LG: My recommendation is that you buy WIRED coin, our cryptocurrency.
MC: Value's going up already!
LG: That's right. Now we just need some really high profile people to tweet about it. My actual recommendation this week is to watch the Britney Spears documentary on Hulu, which is produced by the New York Times. It's just about an hour and 15 minutes long. So it's some super long watch, but it is riveting. And all I want to say is, free Britney.
All right, that's our show this week. Thank you, Greg for joining us. It's been such a long time. I think the last time you joined us on Gadget Lab, we were probably in the newsroom together.
LG: Greg I do remember one time in the newsroom I grabbed you and had you sit by our desks and I shoved the microphone in your face. And I just like, "Talk about crypto."
GB: I think I was like-
LG: Because you're experimenting with new forms of, I have this great idea that it would make for great audio to just drop by people's desks when they were in the middle of doing things and be like, "Tell me about your story."
GB: And then of course you'd picked me, like the most like cannot handle surprises for instance in the newsroom.
LG: You did great there, and you did great today. So thank you.
GB: Well, thank you so much for having me.
LG: And should we do one more price check before we say goodbye?
MC: Absolutely. Wait, on Bitcoin or on WIRED coin?
LG: On Bitcoin. Bitcoin is, it keeps going down, now it's at $47,723.16. Maybe we should stop podcasting now, we might be driving it down.
MC: No, that's OK, just HODOL.
LG: [Laughs] Oh, Snackfight. It's a pleasure as always.
LG: And thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter. Just check the show notes. Mike is also a new Clubhouse star, so you can find him there. Just kidding. He's on Android, so he's not on Clubhouse yet. This show is produced by the excellent Boone Ashworth. Thank you, Boone as always. Goodbye for now, and we'll be back next week.
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