At the beginning of December 2019, Balaji Srinivasan, the former CTO of Coinbase and a co-founder of Coin Center, listed Bitcoin as the most successful unicorn of the 2010s. Bitcoin is not a company — as many snarky commentators were quick to point out. But they’re missing the point, Srinivasan protested. Speaking from an investment standpoint, “nothing else founded in the same timeframe held at $100B for a longer time” than bitcoin, he tweeted, not to mention that the return on investment for bitcoin far exceeds the tech unicorns that Srinivasan said it eclipsed.
Viewed as an open-source unicorn, Bitcoin is ultimately a portent of a trend to come, Srinivasan argued: that protocols will compete with companies in the not-so-distant future.