Skip to content
The Future

How a 4-letter meme is stabilizing Bitcoin

The term “hodl” originated in a drunken post about Bitcoin from 2013, but it’s evolved into a movement in the cryptocurrency community.

No matter what you believe the future holds for Bitcoin or the cryptocurrency market at large, rest assured, you’ll have no trouble finding people who agree with you.

Think it’s a bubble? So does Goldman Sachs, which wrote that “cryptocurrencies have moved beyond bubble levels in financial markets, ‎and even beyond the levels seen during the Dutch ‘tulipmania’ between 1634 and early ‎‎1637.”

Do you predict cryptocurrencies will survive in general, but think Bitcoin will fall? Here’s an interview with Bill Gates in which he says blockchain technology is superior to modern banking, but “Bitcoin won’t be the dominant system.”

But forget about the opinions of banks and billionaires for a moment, because there’s one group of people whose beliefs will likely have more effect on the future of Bitcoin than any other: those who choose to hodl.

In the cryptocurrency community, hodl means to “hold on for dear life,” even though the term originated from a drunken misspelling of the word “hold” in a now-famous post about Bitcoin from 2013. Hodlers are committed to weathering the storm and holding Bitcoin until the rest of the world accepts that the flagship project of Internet money is king.

The opinions of these people, the hodlers, could prove in the mid-term to be the most important metric of Bitcoin’s value because, unlike those who merely talk about the fate of Bitcoin, hodlers are acting out their belief in the cryptocurrency by never selling, effectively establishing a floor on the Bitcoin price.

“Once enough people sell their bitcoin, only the hodlers are left, and they’re ready to buy more, which increases the percentage of the total supply of bitcoin that is held by the hodlers,” Bitcoin analyst Kyle Torpey wrote in an article for Forbes. A true hodler will never sell their bitcoin. Instead, the hodler waits patiently for the day when the use of Bitcoin is ubiquitous around the world and their everyday transactions can be made via the permissionless digital cash system. As the infamous meme based on a scene from The Matrix says, hodlers won’t have to sell by the time they’re ready to cash out.”

There are no doubt many hodlers in the Bitcoin market, but measuring how many exist and their precise effect on the price is basically impossible. A 2017 survey from LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loan refinancing, showed that the average price at which holders would sell was $200,000 per bitcoin. Of course, there’s no way of knowing just how truly committed holders or hodlers are, especially during volatile months like January 2018 when Bitcoin dropped from a high of about $17,000 to a low of nearly $10,000.

Still, it seems like any accurate bitcoin valuation process should account for the coin’s sturdy base of true believers who are holding on for dear life—at least, for now.


Up Next