Miners should stop using gimmicks.

Miners should stop using gimmicks.

The Blockchain Industry: Moving Beyond Marketing Gimmicks


The blockchain industry has gained significant attention over the past few years, with Bitcoin miners becoming a focal point of interest for investors seeking exposure to the cryptocurrency market. However, the proliferation of mining firm listings on stock exchanges has brought to light the prevalence of marketing gimmicks that plague the industry. These gimmicks offer a distorted perspective of the true value and potential risks associated with investing in Bitcoin miners. This article aims to delve deeper into the challenges faced by the mining industry, the impact of marketing gimmicks on investors, and the need for a shift towards education and transparency in the sector.

The Rise of Marketing Gimmicks in the Mining Industry

Hive Blockchain, formerly known as Hive Digital Technologies, pioneered the trend of public miner listings in 2017, sparking a frenzy of mining firm listings on various exchanges. These listings provided an opportunity for retail investors to gain exposure to a wide range of Bitcoin miners. However, the lack of direct involvement with cryptocurrencies led investors to rely on these stocks as a means to participate in the industry’s growth.

Unfortunately, the equity markets that facilitate these investments share many similarities with the token markets that miners often criticize. Retail investors find themselves congregating in Telegram groups, searching for updates from mining firms, and endorsing one another to hold onto their stocks. Yet, these same firms often dilute stocks, make ill-timed ASIC purchases, or fail to hedge energy contracts, resulting in substantial losses for investors. The root cause of these failures can be attributed to the emphasis on marketing rather than sound business practices.

The Influence of Marketing Gimmicks on Mining Stocks

To illustrate the adverse effects of marketing gimmicks, we can examine the case of Sphere 3D, a Nasdaq-listed company that made headlines with its $1.7 billion purchase of 60,000 NuMiners in early 2022. Dubbed the “Mountain Dew miner” by critics due to its sudden appearance and lack of credibility, this acquisition caused Sphere 3D’s stock to soar by 40% upon the release of a press statement. Despite the obvious falsehoods surrounding the purchase, the markets reacted impulsively, demonstrating a clear disconnection between the market and mining practices. Eventually, the deal was canceled, and the stock prices returned to reality.

These kinds of gimmicks, though sometimes exposed, continue to persist in the mining industry. For example, miners have recently jumped on the AI and high-performance computing (HPC) bandwagon, despite having limited expertise and resources in these areas. CoreWeave CSO Brannin Mcbee dismissed the likelihood of most miners possessing true HPC capabilities and infrastructure, highlighting the disparity between marketing claims and actual capabilities. Miners’ pursuit of easy money and the history of exaggerated announcements, such as nine-figure machine purchase orders, further reinforces the distrust that investors may experience.

Mining Firms: Education vs. Marketing

The prevalence of marketing gimmicks raises a crucial question: why aren’t miners prioritizing education over marketing? The suspicion arises that miners are motivated by short-term gains, leveraging retail investments as a means to cushion themselves against poor mining practices rather than forging meaningful partnerships with investors. This mentality compromises the industry’s overall investment outlook, as dissatisfaction with bad investments translates into contempt for the industry as a whole. It is disheartening to witness good miners being overshadowed by their counterparts who fail to deliver on their promises, leaving investors skeptical and wary.

However, it is worth noting that equity markets can serve a purpose when used effectively. Stock dilution, which is often perceived negatively, can actually benefit both mining companies and investors when strategically timed with ASIC or hardware purchases. Cleanspark CEO Zach Bradford advocates for this approach, explaining how capital raised through dilution can be promptly converted into productive assets, maximizing return on investment.

A Shift Towards Professionalization and Investor Education

Fortunately, the mining industry is gradually undergoing professionalization, with many public miners now publishing monthly updates in addition to the mandatory quarterly filings required by regulatory bodies. Furthermore, mining firm executives have become more open to discussing mining strategies, including dilution, on industry media platforms. These initiatives reflect a growing awareness of the need for transparency and investor education within the sector.

Looking forward, it is crucial that miners shed the allure of marketing gimmicks and prioritize investor education. By providing comprehensive information and fostering transparency, the mining industry can regain investors’ trust and create a solid foundation for long-term growth. Miners must recognize that retail investors can be valuable partners in their business, contributing not just capital but also support for the broader purpose of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.

In conclusion, the prevalence of marketing gimmicks in the blockchain industry has blurred the lines between reality and deception, resulting in disillusionment among investors. By shifting the focus towards education and transparency, miners can build credibility, instill confidence, and create a more sustainable and trustworthy investment environment. It is only through the abandonment of marketing gimmicks and the adoption of responsible business practices that the blockchain industry can truly flourish and fulfill its potential.

This article was written by Will Foxley, the host of The Mining Pod and former director at Compass Mining and tech reporter at CoinDesk. It is part of CoinDesk’s 2023 Mining Week, sponsored by Foundry. Edited by Ben Schiller.