“I don’t fully understand how bitcoin works. But then, I don’t get Miley Cyrus either.”
— Joel Flickinger, full-time miner of bitcoin. The 37-year-old software engineer told Bloomberg Businessweek that he rarely leaves his Oakland house these days because he’s busy mining bitcoins — that is, using customized computers to make calculations in a race to solve complex math puzzles. Those who solve the puzzles first earn the digital currency. “It takes up a lot of time, but I have no kids. I have no life. I have a cat,” Flickinger said. He expects a couple of his fastest computers to rake in $150,000 each this year. As for Flickinger not fully understanding bitcoin, he said it’s partly because of the currency’s volatility. According to one bitcoin price index, last month’s low was about $440. Earlier this week, it was at about $1,000. Today it’s at about $850.
Recent news about who’s accepting bitcoin and who’s not: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said this week it’s banning bitcoin, on the heels of last month’s government ban on the acceptance of the currency at Chinese banks. In the United States, Zynga’s announcement early this week that it would accept bitcoin for some of its online games helped boost bitcoin’s value to $1,000. And Heather Somerville wrote just a couple of weeks ago that online retailer Overstock.com planned to accept bitcoin soon. That was quick: Its big foray into accepting bitcoin went live yesterday.
Images: Bitcoin illustration, left, from MCT archives. Photo of Miley Cyrus, right, from Getty Images