Bitcoin's Network Effects and the Importance of Early User Acquisition


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 24, 2023

3 min read


Bitcoin's Network Effects and the Importance of Early User Acquisition


Bitcoin, the decentralized cryptocurrency, has disrupted the traditional hierarchical structure of currency and is now driven by network effects. In this article, we will explore how network effects shape the future of Bitcoin and how early user acquisition played a crucial role in the success of other products like Product Hunt.

The Power of Belief in Currency:

Money is essentially a collective belief held by a large number of people. It represents a shared confidence in the future and is often centralized under the authority of an alpha King in hierarchical societies. However, Bitcoin has challenged this system by replacing the king with a decentralized network that relies on the power of belief and network effects.

Decentralized Networks vs Hierarchies:

Hierarchies rely on power, centralization, and the ability to enforce behavior through violence. On the other hand, decentralized networks like Bitcoin thrive on flexibility, ubiquity, and the ability to adapt quickly to market needs. Unlike fiat currencies, Bitcoin is not constrained by geography or time and can be improved programmatically.

The Role of Network Effects:

Bitcoin's future lies in the strength of its network effects. The four defensibilities native to the digital age that Bitcoin can utilize are network effects, brand, scale, and embedding. Network effects, in particular, are crucial for Bitcoin's resilience and growth. The more people believe in Bitcoin, the more valuable it becomes to believers.

The Marketplace and Social Network Effects:

Bitcoin creates two forms of marketplace network effects - a speculation or "store of value" marketplace and a payments marketplace. The value of Bitcoin in the store-of-value marketplace increases with more buyers and sellers, enhancing liquidity. Additionally, social network effects play a vital role in adding value to Bitcoin through the influence and connections of its users.

The Importance of Brand and Scale:

Bitcoin's worldwide brand and market dominance give it a significant advantage. The bandwagon effect is stronger for Bitcoin compared to lesser-known cryptocurrencies, as people tend to default to what's familiar. Moreover, as the network grows, it becomes more expensive and slower for miners to validate transactions, which adds to Bitcoin's value.

Challenges and Opportunities:

Bitcoin faces challenges such as the need to move away from proof of work and onto more efficient protocols like proof of stake. However, these challenges can also present opportunities for Bitcoin to secure its position in the ecosystem by making necessary changes. The network gravity of Bitcoin is strong, and it's unlikely that governments can stop its growth.

Lessons from Product Hunt's User Acquisition:

Product Hunt, a popular platform for discovering new products, achieved early success by focusing on user acquisition before having a fully polished product. They understood the importance of seeding the platform with the right users and creating a strong community culture from the start. Engagement and retention were prioritized over sheer user acquisition.


In conclusion, Bitcoin's future lies in the power of its network effects, brand recognition, scale, and embedding into the crypto ecosystem. Early user acquisition and community building are crucial for establishing a strong foundation. As Bitcoin continues to evolve, it must adapt to new protocols and address scalability challenges. Three actionable advice for Bitcoin's future success are:

  • 1. Continuously focus on user engagement and retention.
  • 2. Foster a strong community culture and leverage social network effects.
  • 3. Embrace scalability solutions to improve transaction efficiency.

Bitcoin has disrupted the traditional currency system, and its future will be shaped by the network effects it creates. As more people believe in the power of decentralized cryptocurrencies, the value of Bitcoin will continue to grow, reinforcing its position in the global financial landscape.

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