Bitcoin: It’s Not A Pyramid — It’s A Cone

Joe Kelly
12 min readJul 25, 2019


Why do people say Bitcoin is a pyramid scheme?

Answer: Because people who own bitcoin (or PWOBs) are so often found trying to convince other people who don’t own bitcoin that they should.

And because it’s easy to see there’s a self-serving incentive in play which might explain why — PWOBs make money whenever more of the world decides it wants to buy bitcoin.

As new people buy into the game, the whole structure gets lifted higher and higher, making the earlier buyers richer and richer. And, once recruited, the new PWOBs are often found trying to convince other people who don’t own bitcoin that they should.

This repeating pattern makes a pyramid — a largely pointless-seeming structure into which an enormous amount of work has been poured, intensively mining and placing many blocks, with a mysterious guy at the centre of the whole thing.

Undeniable Usefulness

If it were an undeniably useful product that the new recruits were buying into — let’s say Photoshop or Spotify — you might call it a viral loop.

You get a viral loop when the thing that’s on offer is so good, people spontaneously recommend it to their friends.

The difference with Bitcoin — 10.5 years into searching for usefulness — is that people continuously recommend it to everyone, enemies included, and will go to extraordinary lengths to defend The Undeniable Truth that it is a useful product.

That’s not a viral loop, that’s sales.


A pyramid has 4 faces. But this Bitcoin recruitment game has as many faces as it has people who own bitcoin and want to see its value rise (minus the quiet ones).

So it isn’t a pyramid — it’s a cone.

Bitcoin is a massive decentralised sales funnel, and new buyers are constantly being acquired at its edges. Wherever Bitcoin is drawing fresh attention, some percentage of the people questioning what it is, what it does, how it works, and what it promises to bring you in…