Winners & Losers: Zuckerberg boosts a book, a thief boosts bitcoin

Facebook founder’s nod turns a non-Face book into an overnight bestseller

 

Moisés Naím

Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah 2.0

Moisés Naím
Moisés Naím (Alexandre Campbell)

Moisés who? Let’s start with a more recognizable name: Mark Zuckerberg. The founder of Facebook has apparently discovered books and is intent on reading some of them. He posted on Facebook that his resolution this year is to read two books every month, and he encouraged his 31 million followers to do the same. (This goal is considerably less gruesome than the one he set a few years ago, when he resolved to eat meat only from animals he killed with his own hands.) Having presumably quenched his bloodlust by now, Zuckerberg added in his recent post that his first book would be The End of Power, written by Naím. The news sent Naím’s publisher scrambling to keep up with demand. Within a couple of days, 10,000 orders had been placed for the book—which was originally released in 2013—and it hit N0. 19 on Amazon’s best-seller list. Naím, who once served as Venezuela’s Minister of Trade and Industry and as director of the country’s central bank, said he was “flabbergasted” by the news. The End of Power, which argues that the power once held by institutions is now wielded by individuals, was not exactly obscure before this. It’s been endorsed by both George Soros and Arianna Huffington. But clearly they aren’t as influential as Zuckerberg, the nerd Oprah.

▼ Bitstamp

This is why you should keep your bitcoins in a box under the bed

Bitstamp App
(Bitstamp)

The future of money sure is looking bleak. One of the largest exchanges for digital crypto-currency bitcoin had to suspend operations this week due to a security breach. Bitstamp, based in Europe, announced that approximately 19,000 bitcoins—equal to US$5 million—had just disappeared. The company downplayed the incident, saying the amount represents a small portion of its total Bitcoin reserves and that customers will not be affected. But the news is particularly ironic for Bitstamp, which gained popularity after the collapse of another exchange called Mt. Gox, which filed for bankruptcy last year after losing approximately $650 million in a cyber attack. Bitstamp promised its exchange would be more secure. But security consultant Egor Homakov wrote that anyone dabbling in bitcoin “must understand one simple thing: you’re going to be hacked.” In part because of the Mt. Gox fiasco, bitcoin had a terrible year in 2014. Its value touched $900 at the start of the year, but sits around $300 today—a price drop that makes the Russian ruble look like a good investment.

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