A group of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and enthusiasts live inside a three-story home in Potrero Hill and they recently allowed CNBC inside for a look around.
Co-founded by Jeremy Gardner, the home began as a live-work space for the decentralized prediction market platform Augur. "We didn't have the money for all the salaries to pay everyone to go live on their own so it was much cheaper to keep everyone in one place, eradicate housing costs and still be in San Francisco," Gardner explained to CNBC.
Over time, the house morphed into somewhat of a commune for the cryptocurrency community, housing start-ups, and tech workers in the field, and serving as a crash pad for visiting cryptocurrency "gurus." Comma.ai CEO George Hotz lived in a Crypto Castle closet and founded his company in the property's basement. And this one time
at band camp, "Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin was crashing there and got into discussions with BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen."
Magical moments like that are why folks in the industry flock to the Crypto Castle. "Those collaborations are aplenty here which is really probably the best part," said Gardner.
The worst part? Living with someone who uses the word "aplenty."
Filled with a half dozen cryptocurrency enthusiasts and a revolving door of couch-surfers, one of the castle commune's favorite activities is watching Bitcoin grow into a legitimate and profitable currency platform.
"It's funny to see this slowly just gain more and more ground. We used to have a Bitcoin predictor on the window up there and we would guess by the end of the year it's going to hit a thousand or something. There was one moment where we had a big white board upstairs, a bunch of us were talking about different things and I think Bitcoin hit $2,000," said roommate and vice president of Operations at Comma.ai. Viviane Ford. "At that moment we popped a bottle of Champagne and celebrated."
Splinter's Daniela Hernandez spent time in the Crypto Castle (and a similar home called the "Love Nest" in Silicon Valley.) She reported:
"The common room of the Crypto Castle is huge, with a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows with a pristine view of the bay. It must have been breathtaking once. But the Bitcoiners' dorm-room decor has muted the effect. When I arrived, two roommates sat silently on couches with laptops on their thighs, coding away. There was a whiteboard with illegible scribbles and wall shelves lined with technical books and bottles of tequila and whiskey. Buterin, a lanky 21-year-old, walked in. He was wearing a t-shirt that said: 'You read my t-shirt. That’s enough social interaction for one day.'"
This was back in 2015. From the looks of CNBC's tour, there's an orchid now. A quick peek at the Crypto Castle's Facebook page reveals an inflatable hot tub on a deck with killer views of downtown San Francisco. A hookah rests nearby.
Roommates rave that the Crypto Castle is a positive, nondiscriminatory, not traditionally tech-sexist place for cryptocurrency purists. This is what I'm picturing: