Ben Armstrong and the Influencer Problem
In the ever-evolving landscape of the blockchain economy, one figure who has captured our attention is Ben Armstrong. He embarked on his journey into the world of Bitcoin with genuine curiosity, like so many others, seeing it as a fascinating tool for internet businesses. Little did he know that this path would lead him into the intriguing yet perilous realm of cryptocurrency influence.
Armstrong’s initial encounter with Bitcoin involved purchasing his first bitcoins from Charlie Shrem’s BitInstant, only to lose them in the infamous Mt. Gox debacle while attempting to use Bitcoin for selling event tickets on Craigslist. Recognizing the scarcity of quality educational content about Bitcoin, he decided to take matters into his own hands and started creating content under the moniker “BitBoy.” What began as a nickname for Ben eventually evolved into a ‘crypto’ media empire of significant proportions over the ensuing years.
In 2018, the BitBoy brand made its breakthrough into the mainstream, and Ben Armstrong emerged as a prominent voice within a subset of the crypto culture. While Armstrong’s journey might have begun with genuine curiosity, he soon encountered a common challenge faced by content creators in the field – the scarcity of substantial events to cover. To maintain audience engagement, creators often resort to filler content, drama, and market hype. In this, Armstrong mirrors the broader issue of content creators and influencers in the cryptocurrency space.
In the realm of social media, figures like Logan Paul, Casey Neistat, and Mr. Beast have built their livelihoods through a mix of streaming ads, product endorsements, and other commercializations of their influence. While their antics and manipulation tactics can be exasperating, it’s worth noting that crypto influencers operate under a different set of standards due to the global nature of the industry.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have faced lawsuits related to their involvement in crypto scams, while others like Shaq, Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, and Larry David were sued for promoting FTX. While they are not without fault, it’s arguable that they were relatively ignorant of the problems associated with these endeavors.
Financial YouTubers Erika Kullberg, Graham Stephen, and Tom Nash also faced lawsuits for endorsing FTX, joining Ben Armstrong in a bizarre episode where he camped outside Sam Bankman-Fried’s residence, using a bullhorn to air his grievances regarding the platform’s collapse.
Returning to the original point, influencers such as Ben Armstrong, Lark Davis, Ivan “On Tech” Liljevquist, and Layah Heilpern have carved out names and fortunes in the crypto influence game, engaging in activities such as promoting books, ad-sponsored reviews, and speaking appearances for substantial compensation.
In late 2022, a Twitter account named “ZachXBT” shed light on what happens behind the scenes of crypto influencers by posing as a new project seeking promotion from the BitBoy Crypto channel. BitBoy promptly provided pricing and details.
In the crypto world, low-cap coins or tokens can experience tremendous gains when properly hyped. As pump-and-dump schemes became less favorable, the ICO and “presale” economy emerged as replacements. Here, marketing and messaging reigned supreme, and this is where Ben Armstrong excelled. He would endorse presale items or newly launched tokens, getting paid for promotion, thereby driving up prices while founders offloaded their holdings.
This wasn’t a mere side venture for the BitBoy brand; it was its raison d’être. A thorough thread by ZachXBT documents Armstrong’s questionable practices, with a recurring pattern of pumping, then deserting projects, often accompanied by content removal in hopes of escaping scrutiny.
Suddenly, the crypto community witnessed a surprising development – Ben Armstrong was ousted. BitBoy Crypto severed ties with him and initiated a rebranding effort aimed at disassociating the brand from Armstrong. While the brand had become synonymous with Armstrong, his departure wasn’t linked to chronic pump-and-dump schemes, front-running retail investors, or fraud. Instead, it appeared to involve personal behavior that was impacting work relationships or performance.
Ben Armstrong now appears to be on a journey of rebranding himself, hinting that his crypto influence journey may continue until further complications arise.
The blockchain economy presents a challenging dichotomy – while it holds the promise of reducing global commerce friction and enhancing data integrity, it is often marred by deceptive practices. Influencers who mislead retail investors about the true potential of blockchain assets contribute to the industry’s image problem. In the end, Bitcoin doesn’t need influencers; it needs dedicated entrepreneurs committed to building genuine value.
The blockchain world persists, and its trajectory remains uncertain. Whether it ultimately fulfills its potential for positive change or succumbs to the weight of its baggage and controversies depends on how it navigates this critical juncture.
As we reflect on the rise and fall of Ben Armstrong and the broader crypto influence ecosystem, one thing is clear: transparency, honesty, and a focus on real value creation must be at the heart of the blockchain revolution.