28 July 2021

On today’s show, Preston Pysh talks with Bitcoin mining expert, Harry Sudock about the great hardware migration out of China, and all the considerations a successful operation needs to consider in the art of Bitcoin mining.



  • Harry’s Background in Finance and Bitcoin.
  • Harry’s thoughts on balance sheets becoming more important moving forward.
  • Harry’s thoughts on the great mining hardware migration out of China.
  • How mining businesses in the US and abroad are purchasing hardware.
  • Harry’s thoughts on the ESG mining council.
  • Geothermal mining.
  • Thoughts on the Blockstream mining note.
  • Harry’s thoughts on regulator vulnerabilities and where the best locations to mine are.
  • How to convince big stat grid operators to start mining Bitcoin.
  • Does hash rate drive price or does price drive hash rate?
  • When a new high in hash rate might occur.


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Preston Pysh (00:03):
Hey, everyone, welcome to this Wednesday’s release of the show where we’re talking about Bitcoin, and back by popular demand, we have Harry Sudock who’s here to talk to us about the current events and thoughts surrounding the Bitcoin mining industry. This was a fascinating conversation because Harry got into a lot of specifics about the hardware migration coming out of China, the potential impacts moving forward, and then we had a general conversation about the business of mining. As many already know, Harry’s a treasure trove of information on this topic. So without further delay, here’s my conversation with Mr. Harry Sudock.

Intro (00:38):
You’re listening to Bitcoin Fundamentals by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Now for your host, Preston Pysh.

Preston Pysh (00:57):
All right, so like I said in the introduction, I’m here with Harry Sudock and I love having these conversations with you, Harry. I’ve been a big fan for quite a few years now. So welcome back to the show.

Harry Sudock (01:07):
I appreciate it, Preston. Thanks for having me. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster in mining land for the last 3, 6, 9 months.

Preston Pysh (01:14):
To say the least. To say the least. Hey, I want to start off because we’ve never covered this. The last time you were on with Marty, we didn’t cover your background or your story. So I’m just kind of curious, what’s your background, how you found Bitcoin, and how you got into it in the first place?

Harry Sudock (01:32):
I appreciate it. So I’m a FinTech native. Basically, I joined up with a FinTech halfway through college, interned there end the summer between my sophomore junior year, interned there again the following summer, and joined full time five days after graduation, and that company really focused on the full belly of the beast. We were a big data company that sat in between hedge funds and prime brokers.

Harry Sudock (01:57):
So we tried to leverage the back and middle office functions to generate operational alpha for clients. That was as simple as saying to some folks, “Put your short on at Citibank, not a JP Morgan. They’re going to charge you less,” or it was as nuanced as recreating their margin agreement, and validating that they had to post as much collateral as they thought they had to post.

Harry Sudock (02:18):
So we were able to just shave some points here and there, but for a $15 billion hedge fund, a few points mean 10, 15, $20 million in costs saved per year. So it was a really interesting business and it put me really in the guts of how the other broader financial system worked, which was a blessing and a curse, because it made me realize that this stuff is still running on mainframes.

Harry Sudock (02:40):
The idea that these large financial institutions and massive sources of institutional grade capital are somehow sophisticated, is like a wild misnomer. There are hedge funds that are still working with paper orders. So the insight into that side of the world was one part of it and like with many others, I had my three swings at the plate with Bitcoin.

Harry Sudock (03:04):
First, in high school, there was a kid who was very involved in some of the early anonymous stuff when they got involved with fighting back against Scientology, and they were sending Bitcoin to each other. So, the kid who got investigated by the FBI in my high school was the first pass at Bitcoin.

Harry Sudock (03:24):
Then, the second pass was the kids who were buying drugs in college and then the third pass was like, the most junior guy on our desk at the FinTech had just given his buddy five grand to trade Bitcoin prop for him. So I got these three swings at it, that was probably sub $1 in high school. It was probably sub $20 in college, and it was sub $1,000 at my first job. Missed all three swings, obviously, but had finally reached that critical information exposure point where the proverbial viral load had reached the saturation I needed to say this is worth time and effort.

Harry Sudock (04:05):
From that point forward said, this is interesting. Went from this is interesting, to I can’t think about anything else and from that point said, I need to find a way to make this my career. Anything other than full career exposure to Bitcoin is underexposed. At that point, I said, I have a thesis about the future that balance sheet is going to replace valuation. Hard assets are going to trade at such a ridiculous premium over the coming, I don’t know, call it 10-year time horizon, that the actual free cash flow that your business generates, and the balance sheet that you build with it is going to be like a way more useful source of compounding than the next up round, which is what it’s been previously where the idea is that you can … If you go back maybe six or seven years, you’ve got to just infinitely mark up your next venture round until you sell it to SoftBank [inaudible 00:05:01].

Harry Sudock (05:02):
Now, it’s like you just sell your next up round until Tiger comes in and pays for it. I was of the opinion at that point that businesses need to generate free cash flow, and the best use of that free cash flow over time becomes a balance sheet. So I tweeted it during some of Trump’s rise, but like make balance sheet great again, was kind of what we were going through.

Harry Sudock (05:26):
I continue to believe that and I think that the reason why that’s so exciting is that, and the original thought before I got to it with Bitcoin was that if you’re someone who’s 25 years old, what are the best assets you can put on your personal balance sheet. It’s like, I’m going to spend two years at Stripe, I’m going to spend two years at Airbnb, I’m going to spend two years at Uber and I just want to vest three of the best 10 companies I can find.

Harry Sudock (05:50):
Then my personal balance sheet will actually exceed anything else I’m doing. Then Bitcoin came and said, the thesis is right, but the collateral is wrong. So now it’s just, how do you aggressively free cash flow as quickly and best as you can to be able to build your personal balance sheet in such an early and aggressive way, that it becomes the best performing asset of your lifetime. That’s the replacement for the pension myth or the Social Security myth.

Harry Sudock (06:20):
What those are, it’s a replacement for the balance sheet. So developing personal balance sheet early, and front loading it. It’s like what all the fire people get wrong, or they get right, but maybe get wrong. They’re right that saving these hard assets, they do it in the form of equities. My perspective is that that needs to happen in the form of Bitcoin for lots of different reasons, but then extend that thought process out to either starting or joining a very early stage company.

Harry Sudock (06:46):
How do you not mine a coin then? So, took that idea and said, the two best free cash-flowing companies that you can build in the Bitcoin space are an exchange, or a miner. Having just been through five plus years of FinTech experience at the heart of prime brokers and hedge funds was not thrilled to jump onto an exchange at that moment, and by the grace of serendipity, found my way into a cold DM with Griid’s founder and CEO, Trey Kelly, and we met for coffee a few times. I was thinking about starting my own thing and he very wisely said, “Don’t do that. Come join me,” and it was at that point that I joined Griid as the first employee.

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Preston Pysh (07:28):
Wow. Oh, that’s fascinating. I agree with your fundamental thesis about the balance sheet. I think it’s so important and I think it’s really difficult for people to wrap their head around, because they’ve been so groomed and conditioned, especially anyone coming out of business school, that the income statement is the place to really spend all of your time and analysis and for good reason.

Preston Pysh (07:52):
You got to find a company that’s kicking off free cash flows, but when you think about how everything’s just being capitalized to the moon because interest rates keep going down, it forces you to really understand what is on the balance sheet and how’s it being capitalized on the balance sheet. So when you’re seeing these numbers and the equity growth of the business, is that really equity growth, or is that just the capitalization of the assets that are sitting there? I’m with you 100%.

Harry Sudock (08:18):
Exactly. So for me, there were two moments within traditional, high growth companies that I thought were not fully emperor has no clothes, because I respect a lot about what some of these companies do, but they were like, these are companies that are maximally extracting from the existing state of play. They’re not actually designed for the future state. I think like, Airbnb is like the perfect example.

Harry Sudock (08:42):
Airbnb is like the perfect company to have as minimal balance sheet as humanly possible, or all that money into building two sided marketplace and let’s let the balance sheet headaches live on the host’s desk. Because we all agree that dealing with that piece of it, owning that hard asset, doing the thing, it’s a pain. What they’re really doing is like value chain hacking.

Harry Sudock (09:10):
They’re saying like, “Here’s a value chain that traditionally would accrue over here to the real estate. We’re going to have that traditional approach and we’re going to try to pull all of that value accrual into this matching engine.” They’re basically pulling it into this liquid place within that traditional business model. Kudos to them. They build a generational business, it’s incredible, but it’s very much a creature of 2013 to 2020, clearly early 2020.

Harry Sudock (09:41):
Then the other, which is an example that I much don’t respect is just like the WeWork playbook, where WeWork is like the screaming example of money is hilariously tucci. If you’re allowed to do this, if your board of directors lets you do this, then the interest rates aren’t accurate and the risk models are wrong. Good on you [inaudible 00:10:08] he did a great Stanford Business School speech where he said, “The playbook,” I think he presents his own problems and he’s a challenging person to wrap your head around generally, but he’s exactly right in this speech, because of the moment that he gives the speech in which is, his point is getting money.

Harry Sudock (10:23):
Why? Because it’s free. So if you’re not just going out and raising as much money as humanly possible at that point in time, whether it’s debt or it’s equity, or it’s an ICO or whatever the case may be, everyone’s giving it away for free. Go get yours, and make sure you sit down before the music stops. EOS and are a great example of this. They raised $4 billion and paid out 20, some odd million dollar SEC fine. You don’t think the money is too cheap?

Preston Pysh (10:51):
Let’s pull the thread on this. So when we think about this cost of capital being nothing, effectively, and you think about how everyone’s maneuvering, we’ve seen the Michael Saylor playbook, but from a mining business standpoint, they’re crazy not to go out there and be borrowing as much of this as possible in order to buy more hardware and put it to work. So are you seeing more companies here in the States, anywhere in the world, it doesn’t really matter, using that playbook of the rates are manipulated. So let’s take advantage of it while we can and conduct this speculative attack on fiat currency?

Harry Sudock (11:29):
I don’t see it in practice yet. I see the edge of it. I think people are 5% of the way into that strategy you just described, and I think that one of the reasons that I love mining so much is that it is a really hardcore meritocracy. It’s a hardcore meritocracy from the standpoint that it’s actually challenging business to build and operate. So you may be able to roll … The way that Michael Saylor is rolling out this attack strategy is much, much easier to execute, because all he has to do is go buy Bitcoin. That’s the playbook.

Harry Sudock (12:01):
Raise money, buy Bitcoin. He doesn’t care how the money is raised, whether it’s equity, debt, convert.

Preston Pysh (12:06):
They’re happy to give it to him.

Harry Sudock (12:09):
For sure. So I think like that version of the attack is a lot easier to bring to market maturity, where even if there was as much demand to bring a similar strategy to market and mining, I just think the execution is way harder.

Preston Pysh (12:22):
Yeah. Because you’re having to know where you’re at in the cycle and just there’s a lot more moving parts to this. So tell us some of your thoughts on all these moving parts?

Harry Sudock (12:33):
I want to use the counter again, just for a moment and say the worst thing that can happen to Mike Saylor is that Bitcoin goes down and stays down. Way down, like 90 plus percent for a protracted period of time.

Preston Pysh (12:45):
He’s got five year notes. So he needs it to be down for a very long time.

Harry Sudock (12:51):
He needs Bitcoin to do something it’s never done. In mining, there’s a lot of other places where the business models break on an interim basis. So you’re subject to, let’s just use a bunch of examples. The machines you buy don’t work, you raise $100 million in some Michael Saylor style funding event and you go buy S7 teams, and let’s just assume this is early ’19. The S7 teams had an incredibly high failure rate, and Bitmain did their best to basically string you along until warranty period rolled over, and you get what you get and you don’t get upset. So there was a blend between hardware quality risk, and counterparty good behavior risk that has nothing to do with borrowing money and buying hardware.

Preston Pysh (13:39):
So my immediate thought when I’m hearing this story is like so okay, for people that aren’t familiar, Bitmain is over in China. So you’re just looking at hardware manufacturing, in general. With the China ban and with examples like the one you just provided, I would think there’s massive demand for hardware that’s not being produced inside of China. Is that the case? Are you seeing some hardware manufacturers trying to migrate out of there? Talk to us about that industry.

Harry Sudock (14:09):
Well, I think it’s important to double click on why you don’t want the machines to be made in China. I break it down into three major categories. One of them is straight up tariff risk. Buying machine out of China is 25% more expensive than a machine not made in China. Apples to apples. The second is jurisdiction, litigation stuff. So you send them money, they renege on a contract, where do you sue them?

Preston Pysh (14:39):
You don’t.

Harry Sudock (14:40):
You don’t. Or you’d go to China, you try to sue them, hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars in legal bills later, you hope you win. Do they pay you for legal fees in Chinese courts? I don’t know. I don’t care to know. So the second is really that you don’t have a lot of recourse. The third is some kind of intervention of some kind that blows up the deal. We’ve seen it from a governance perspective within Bitmain.

Harry Sudock (15:04):
So those who aren’t familiar with their corporate governance structure, there’s been a lot of upheaval that’s gone on within their corporate structure, they’ve forked their company. I’d get into the Bitmain conversation, but the truth of the matter is, they still make a really good machine. So, I’m of these two minds that like, you’re onboarding counterparty risk by dealing with them, but you’re also dealing with the best manufacturer.

Harry Sudock (15:27):
It’s this duality where like, you got to buy enough to satisfy your growth, but you’ve got to manage those procurement channels pretty carefully to protect yourself from the bad scenarios. We run Bitmain machines. We continue to buy and run Bitmain machines. We think they make a good machine, but navigating a business relationship with them take savvy and takes skill, and it’s part of why you can’t just jump into this thing.

Preston Pysh (15:51):
Now, are you seeing any change or any guidance that’s being put out in the future now that China has their ban in place, as far as for Bitmain, specifically, or any other Chinese manufacturer?

Harry Sudock (16:03):
I think that it’s too early to tell. We don’t have anything super definitive that they’re going to cut their volumes by 50%. We don’t see anything like that. We see that they’re looking to sell more machines, demand for hash continues to be high but there’s complexity to all of that. We’ve heard some reports around dropping existing production quantities so that some of the existing orders or pre orders can migrate elsewhere.

Harry Sudock (16:29):
This is also part of the challenge, where the way that the manufacture is they forward sell so many of those machines. They’re selling a year ahead, even longer from time to time. That allows for a lot of different stuff to happen, especially in a businesses as dynamic as mining and as an industry that 24/7 is Bitcoin. A lot can happen in 12 months, as we’ve seen time and time again.

Preston Pysh (16:52):
Let’s say the worst case scenario plays out and China just shuts Bitmain down. No more of this, you’re not making any more of these things. The company is toast. What does that mean for the market? What does that mean for the hash rate? Just like, if that scenario were to play out, what would that mean for you guys?

Harry Sudock (17:10):
It would put a lot of pressure on the used market.

Preston Pysh (17:13):
So you’d be paying prices way higher than what they’re going for today?

Harry Sudock (17:17):
I think…

Preston Pysh (17:20):
How about the hash rate in general?

Harry Sudock (17:22):
The hash rate would still rise? There’s other manufacturers, and more than likely, I would expect … So TSMC and Samsung, which are the two chip foundries are both not on Mainland China. So the ability to produce chips would still … No impact there. It’s really about the [crosstalk 00:17:41] of the corporate structure, and there’s outside of mainland assembly as well. So there are paths that would be achievable from a supply chain standpoint. It would be disruptive, for sure. I think that we would … It’s a hard thing to speculate on. There’s a lot of moving pieces around where it could go. Our assumption is that there’s a lot of market demand for hash, enough demand where alternative supply chains would be re-established over time.

Preston Pysh (18:09):
And they would strengthen over time.

Harry Sudock (18:10):
And they would strengthen over time. I think we’re already seeing that. We’re seeing, whatever, 40 some odd billion dollars invested in US foundries. The price of machines would go up, because the price of labor and component parts might go up, but there are pathways to continue to produce significant amounts of ASICS that don’t involve Mainland China’s involvement.

Preston Pysh (18:30):
So let’s go back, I don’t know, 60, 90 days, and the China announcement comes out. I know my personal opinion when I saw the headline, I just kind of rolled my eyes and was like, “Yeah, sure. Yeah, right.” Like seen this story multiple times in the past. There’s no way this is real. I guess my first question for you is like, what was your interpretation? I see you nodding your head, but then from a company standpoint, from a mining company standpoint, how did you guys start to interpret it as it started to look like oh, no, hold on a second, this might be real.

Harry Sudock (19:05):
So, umber one is we’ve seen this story before. We’ve heard about China banning Bitcoin, banning Bitcoin mining every 30 days for the last three years. So our first instinct was not to take it too seriously. We’ve been taking China regulation a little more seriously, since we’ve seen … Inner Mongolia really did go through significant reductions in hash rate prior to this. So there was some provincial pressure that we’d seen, that was real and significant.

Harry Sudock (19:33):
So our instinct, obviously was to say, “Let’s see if it’s real. Not giving us any credence right away at all,” but we had seen at the province level effective regulation in some regions already and quite quickly, it became clear that this was happening. We were hearing and seeing real panic. The other thing that we don’t want to let get memory hold too quickly is that we’d seen the significant disruption to the coal sector, where there’d already been a 10 plus percent reduction in hash rate … Forget if it was weeks or months earlier, where there was a coal plant that significantly malfunctioned.

Harry Sudock (20:12):
So they ran a series of tests across all of the plants in that region over the next, I think it was maybe 10 or 12 days, and we saw 10 to 15% of hash reduce during that difficulty adjustment as well. It came back towards the end of the adjustment.

Preston Pysh (20:29):
Yes, yes.

Harry Sudock (20:29):
So there were signs prior to this, that we should A, be sizing the reduction in hash, maybe more aggressively than we would have thought otherwise. So, that was the first piece and the second was that these markets were more vulnerable and susceptible to black swans, whether they be in the energy generation piece, or from the regulation, we should be taking that more seriously, than we have historically.

Harry Sudock (20:54):
So we quickly digested that this was real. Frankly, my first thought was, this is really challenging. No doubt every miner is competing with every other miner, but having now gone through multiple cycles with Griid and having stood up significant operations with Griid, we have compassion for other operators. This is a really hard business.

Harry Sudock (21:16):
So to have built your business in a place with regulatory vulnerability, and to see that vulnerability get played out, through no fault of the business that you run and built, it sucks. We have friends with close ties to some Chinese miners and we feel there is capitalistic and aggressive and competitive business owners and operators as you can ask for. So we recognize that they’re no different than us and we compete with them like any other miner, not like a Chinese miner.

Preston Pysh (21:46):
So Harry, if you could put on your hat as if you are one of these participants over in China that are going through this regulatory situation, how do you think they were thinking through how they solved their situation, as far as selling their rigs, as far as getting them out of the country. Walk us through that thought process and how they were probably handling it in the highest probability way that you would suspect what the typical miner in China was thinking.

Harry Sudock (22:17):
In my experience with how they think and operate, and they don’t think and operate one way. There are a huge segment of this market. They operate all over different provinces with all different kinds of energy relationships. Their families own the coal plants that they’re operating out of. Some of them are building out a bilateral agreement with a hydro dam. So there’s a really wide range of how these miners are actually running their operations. I think the first is like, you should have been planning for this already.

Preston Pysh (22:44):
Do you think most were?

Harry Sudock (22:46):
The biggest were. I think that like with everything, there’s a barbell. The biggest were planning for this already, the smallest might go unnoticed, but it’s that sort of middle 50 to 70%, that are in the danger zone of not being big enough to fully invest in diversification, but also being too big to escape the Eye of Sauron. I think for that cohort, it’s seeing where can I move these things outside the country and how can I be first? Being first or last. Rushed for the door. So first order of business would be speed, how do I move the rigs? Second order of business is, what price can I get for the rigs and try to sell them? Somehow we be at the front of that order book.

Preston Pysh (23:31):
Do you think many were trying to move their company so they’re trying to retain the rigs, or are they just trying to get them out the door? Then also, how are they managing their own personal balance sheet, which I would imagine is heavily denominated in Bitcoin?

Harry Sudock (23:44):
I think that the most common behavior is those rigs are in storage. There’s just dry powder, so to speak, that a lot of folks don’t like the pricing they’re getting to sell them. They don’t have a place to move them, because … We’ll get into a lot of this, but I think that the shift has moved dramatically from hardware premium to rack space premium.

Preston Pysh (24:07):
You’re saying for all the ones buying the rig. So they didn’t have the infrastructure in place outside of China in order to buy [crosstalk 00:24:16]. Wow, interesting.

Harry Sudock (24:18):
No, there’s no rack space to confuse machines. There’s a ripple effect. So then you say, “Why isn’t there enough rack space?” Some mixture of the inability to execute on building out the locations or the inability to design enough scaled power contracts. So now you run into all of the normal supply chain problems that we’re seeing across used cars and other industries.

Preston Pysh (24:39):
You’re not going to buy those rigs unless you know the electrical expense that you’re signing up for whatever that contract is going to be before buying. I got you. I think the other thing that people that aren’t familiar with the mining space, the infrastructure itself, like pouring the concrete, having the heating cooling in place, having the building itself, all the capex that’s associated with the stuff that just goes beyond the rig itself is massive. Takes a significant long time to establish. We’re talking a year to get some of that stuff stood up or six months?

Harry Sudock (25:14):
I think six months is aggressive and I think 18 months is conservative, and it depends on what …. There’s almost reverse economies of scale. So diseconomies of scale are totally present the bigger the mining operation you’re trying to build. So the longer lead time items, that lead time extends, the higher up the power stack you get. So low voltage transformer used to take like 12 to 16 weeks, maybe now it’s closer to 20 or 30 weeks.

Harry Sudock (25:42):
That doesn’t talk about sort of a substation transformer. Those are 18 months in the making, and those aren’t getting any quicker. They’re not getting shipped any quicker. Boats aren’t moving, ports aren’t seeing the type of throughput that they need to be seeing to achieve this kind of stuff. So the bottlenecks and the supply chain, other than the minor are significant and growing. So trying to get another 100 megawatts stood up, there’s 1,000 megawatts trying to get out of China. So the ability to build the rack space for all of this new supply is not easy.

Preston Pysh (26:18):
Man, that’s not something that I considered was just how much time is associated with doing that. Now what I want to get back to is in China, so if you’re one of these companies that had just tons of rigs, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is like half of the entire hardware infrastructure for the Bitcoin network that’s been turned off.

Harry Sudock (26:36):

Preston Pysh (26:37):
So half the rigs are in storage is what you’re saying. You think a majority of them went to, mostly because they didn’t have a buyer at the price that the person would be willing to sell it for, they would just rather get some type of storage and put them in the storage until they can find the right buyer and the right price to offload it. Some of them have left. Where are some of the locations that those have gone to?

Harry Sudock (27:02):
I’m seeing a lot of noise around Kazakhstan. Even though they’ve introduced a new sort of Bitcoin minor power contract tariff of a quarter cent per kilowatt hour, we’re still seeing a lot of volumes migrate there, but those supply chain problems, those are country agnostic. They’re a little easier to overcome in some countries, because they have different electrical standards, but I think that by and large, it’s hard to build rig-ready rack space, for miners. So we’re seeing Kazakhstan, we’re seeing a ton to US.

Harry Sudock (27:32):
Even though we don’t have the ability to plug it all in right away, what is available is coming here. So really, what’s interesting is we’re seeing updates to deal structures. So the folks who were able to get their machines out of China, and they want to retain interest in them, they’re striking much more creative, much more hosting friendly deals in the US, or partnership friendly.

Harry Sudock (27:55):
I don’t know that I would call all of it hosting, but for the folks that are hosting, it’s an opportunity to sign way above market power prices. So what used to be a four or five or six cent rate, all of a sudden is a 9, 10, 11 cent rate, which is crazy, and introduces a bunch of interesting price vulnerability to some of these mining operations. If hash rises and price falls, or if hash rises and price rises slower, or hash stays the same and price falls, all of a sudden the machines that are at a higher marginal profit than they would have been otherwise.

Preston Pysh (28:33):
It’s a short term game at that point.

Harry Sudock (28:35):
Exactly. So for us at Griid, we’ve always had the same pieces, which is we’re vertically integrated, and we self mine, full stop. That’s what we do. We build rack space for ourselves, we plug in our own machines, like we talked about earlier. It’s a balance sheet game and one of the beautiful things about being a Bitcoin miner is that the ASICs you purchase are just like little baby Bitcoin bonds.

Harry Sudock (28:58):
So their value is largely associated with the price of Bitcoin, because their future cash flow streams are Bitcoin. So we love being an asset-heavy business in a market that you still love asset-light, because it gives us this opportunity to build these multiple compounding layers that are highly correlated to Bitcoin price.

Harry Sudock (29:18):
So we saw all this migration happening and we said, “Well, we liked being a self miner who’s vertically integrated before doubledown. Let’s do more. We want to do more of this. We think that more value is going to accrue to our business model.” What we’ve seen is other folks have woken up to this strategy, but that’s why we’ve been building the whole business this way with this in our DNA for two years.

Preston Pysh (29:45):
Any other comments about the lens from the Chinese miners? From a business standpoint?

Harry Sudock (29:51):
I think really, it’s this introduction of fragility into the unit economics that they’re now going to see which is, they used to buy three cent power in China, a US hosting used to be five or six cents. They come to the US, and now they’ve got nine cent power, and they’re giving up whatever, a 10% or 20%-

Preston Pysh (30:10):
Oh, yeah. That’s brutal-

Harry Sudock (30:11):
Profit share. So you’re getting crushed on both ends and what used to be totally immovable hash is now pretty fragile hash relative to the unit economics of the network. So something I’m watching closely is, what do we start to see around those rigs if the favorability of Bitcoin economics and mining change, and how do we win those deals?

Preston Pysh (30:36):
So Harry, I’ve always had the thesis that the hash rate is really setting the floor on the price action. Just if we were thinking about gold, and gold’s reaching a steady stock, the flow issuance and demand and all that kind of stuff, you’re going to get to really what’s the production cost to pull this out of the ground that would really set your floor price. So when we’re thinking about Bitcoin, and we’re thinking about half of that network, half of that hardware that’s conducting this mining has now moved to a location where the price to the electrical expense to put this into the market is significantly higher than where it came from. Are you of the opinion that this might favorably impact the underlying price or that floor price that Bitcoin might achieve on the cycle that we’re currently in?

Harry Sudock (31:27):
It’s a good question. It’s hard to speculate on what price will do over time. I think that it’s not an unreasonable thesis. I think that there are folks who might take profits at levels in other environments that no longer can, because there is no profit to take, but I think it cuts both ways. So if you have a higher cost structure on your mining, you’re selling more coin to fund operations.

Harry Sudock (31:50):
On the other hand, you’re selling less coins to take profits into, potentially, or maybe you always kept all your profit in Bitcoin but I think there’s evidence both ways on that. So I think that a higher cost of production … Net net. A higher cost of production means selling more Bitcoin.

Preston Pysh (32:06):
It’s kind of interesting, and you hear a lot of arguments and I think we’re hitting at this a little bit is does price follow hash or does hash follow price. When I’m thinking about which one of those two are leading the other, I see it more as this homeostasis between the two, like they have this tethered relationship with each other, where sometimes the ones driving the other and sometimes it’s the other way around. I’m curious to hear some of your thoughts on that idea as well. It’s just like, which one of those two is driving the other?

Harry Sudock (32:37):
So I think that price drives hash at the tails, basically.

Preston Pysh (32:43):
When you say at the tails, what do you mean by that?

Harry Sudock (32:46):
So I mean that when bitcoin price precipitously falls during COVID Black Thursday, that drives hash. That says to people, I need to turn my machines off, I’m worried about paying for power. Similarly, when bitcoin price goes from 10,000 to 60,000, people say, “If I don’t plug a machine into my garage, that’s the cheapest way for me to mine a Bitcoin, not to buy it.”

Harry Sudock (33:11):
So I think when we see the most extreme price action, it drives, maybe not irrational, but it drives extreme behavior with regard to mining. I think the chart is most clear, when you look at Black Thursday. You saw a price come down, borderline 50% and you saw hash drop double digit into the 20s. 20 to 20, some 30% on a very short term basis, and people panicked.

Harry Sudock (33:36):
I think you saw the same … The problem is, is that hash coming online lags, hash coming offline is real time. So the way to try to correlate price and hash on the upside is with bitcoin price and machine price, rather than bitcoin price and hash rate. Because with hash rate, we just talked about it, there’s significant lead times of plugging anything new in at scale.

Harry Sudock (34:00):
So I can’t say, “Oh, Bitcoin went from 30 to 60. Time to plug in all those machines I’ve just been sitting on. Oh, maybe now it’s time to kick off purchase orders for transformers. Now it’s time to engage with my general contractor. Now it’s time to work with my electrical engineering team to start plotting out expansion within existing operations. I got to go back to negotiate with power producers.”

Harry Sudock (34:20):
So there’s a lot of levers that have to get pulled to bring net new hash online. I’ll pull all those levers, [inaudible 00:34:27] but that doesn’t mean that the hash is going to come online any shorter than 90 days, but on the way down, shut the machines out.

Preston Pysh (34:36):
I just want to go back to the China piece one more time. So this was a common question that we saw from people online is how confident are we that we’re actually seeing rigs leave China or it’s like a theory that people have that China might have just made it appear like they’re turning off the rig, but they’re really going to be there for some type of attack into the future. So I’m kind of curious … Yeah, I’m with you. I’m kind of curious what percent of that hardware do you think is actually leaving the country right now? So we both talked earlier that 50% of the hardware was in China. How much of that 50% is staying versus leaving?

Harry Sudock (35:13):
I’ll caveat and say leaving thus far. So I bet you we’ve seen one in five of those machines leave.

Preston Pysh (35:21):
20% of what was there.

Harry Sudock (35:23):
Yeah, 10% total network, 20% of what shut off and that’s because we’re having conversations with folks that are trying to move machines. This is still a pretty small club of folks who mined Bitcoin at scale. A, we’re seeing it in pricing. So if those machines weren’t really leaving, we wouldn’t have seen prices in machines come down so far. B, we’re seeing the network recover. Those machines are going somewhere. Our feeling is they’re coming to the US and they’re going to Eastern Europe.

Preston Pysh (35:50):
So this one was pretty politically charged and got a lot of people in the community, pretty emotional and that’s the Mining Council. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on the Mining Council, and then I’m also curious to hear your thoughts on Elon Musk’s piece about Tesla no longer accepting Bitcoin, because of the high energy costs. How are you seeing that as somebody in the mining industry?

Harry Sudock (36:18):
It’s a tough topic. The Bitcoin Mining Council, so long as the objective is opt-in data disclosures, is a good thing.

Preston Pysh (36:28):
It’s no harm no foul. If people want to provide their data, they can. If they don’t want to, then they don’t have to and there’s no anybody holding a gun to anybody’s head saying they have to do it.

Harry Sudock (36:38):
Exactly, and these were two questions that got asked at their first. It was like first, either monthly or quarterly … They did a Twitter Spaces. The two questions that Pete McCormack asked that I was really grateful for were, number one is, can anyone join the Bitcoin Mining Council no matter the energy mix that they use? And the answer is yes. Number two is, does this group commit to never lobbying for legislation around the energy mix that Bitcoin miners should be using, or should we regulate against? And the answer was similarly, we’re not here to drive legislation on any of this. We’re here to provide opt-in voluntary data disclosures and from that perspective, I think it’s awesome.

Harry Sudock (37:23):
I think providing tools to the community to make fact-based arguments around how this industry works is a really positive thing. I think that the minute you try to get into, “Hey, I just heard about Bitcoin, and I’m here to fix it,” or, “Hey, we want to center green blocks and clean blocks and a Bitcoin is a Bitcoin except for that one,” that’s the type of stuff that doesn’t work in this network.

Preston Pysh (37:47):
I think the thing that got everyone so excited about it is just they were having flashbacks to the summer of 2017 with the Bitcoin Cash-

Harry Sudock (37:56):
New York Agreement-

Preston Pysh (37:56):
Oh, yeah, the big New York Agreement. So I think that’s where a lot of it was stemming from and at the same time, you kind of breathe energy into this ESG FUD that’s out there by just talking about, well, where’d you get your source from. So I can understand that side of it to where people are upset that they’re even doing it because when you look at the trend, and we’re both well aware of the trend, and the direction that this is going to go, which is the person who can get the energy the cheapest is going to be the ones that are really driving the train in the future.

Preston Pysh (38:29):
So with that, let’s talk a little bit about geothermal. I know the El Salvador piece with the mining the volcanoes was just a huge story. Everyone’s got volcanoes in their Twitter handles and stuff. What are some of your thoughts on that? Where do you see that going? Is it really that cheap of electricity that’s being produced out of these volcanoes or any other type of geothermal activity? I’m just curious to hear how you view it.

Harry Sudock (38:55):
I want to click out one level and just talk about what goes into choosing a jurisdiction for a miner, which I think is maybe not well understood yet. This is … Forgive any talking to my own book, but we’re of the opinion that the US is the best place in the world to mine Bitcoin.

Preston Pysh (39:11):
Because of the lack of vulnerabilities-

Harry Sudock (39:13):
More than that.

Preston Pysh (39:14):
Oh, really?

Harry Sudock (39:15):
More than that. We think that if you are in the business of converting energy to money, the best place to do it is here and that’s for a number of different reasons. One of those reasons is that we’ve got an incredible electric grid that has its watts or caught outage this year, and it has its political warts, where state representatives from my beautiful state of New York are concerned. At the end of the day, our ability to deliver energy across this country is a modern marvel.

Harry Sudock (39:45):
It has challenges but we deliver power with more reliability to 340 or 50 million people every day, which it’s an astounding feat of engineering and we’ve designed that system in such a way where there are huge pockets of over engineering that are begging for revenue enhancement in the form of a Bitcoin mining power relationship.

Harry Sudock (40:08):
You layer into that we are still the best place to form capital, we’re still the best place to protect property rights and take a bad actor to court. We’re the ideal business environment for Bitcoin mining, as far as I’m concerned, and we’ve got a lot of runway before that thesis is maximized. So we are heavily, heavily invested in the future growth of Bitcoin mining in the US.

Harry Sudock (40:32):
We think this is the place to do it. We’ve had conversations with half a dozen other countries that are really exciting places to also mine Bitcoin, and we haven’t been convinced that that’s a better place to do it. That being said, El Salvador, other areas of South America that have truly abundant sources of energy, are really, really good electrical priced places.

Preston Pysh (40:52):
The geothermal, like the volcano. So how much are they able to get it for you? You were quoting 2 cents, 5 cents earlier. Where are we at with something like that?

Harry Sudock (41:01):
My guess is that they’re able to get it for 2 cents or lower.

Preston Pysh (41:04):

Harry Sudock (41:05):
I haven’t talked to anybody from El Salvador and ask them for a power purchase agreements. This is pure speculation, but I think that there’s a number of different countries in south America, geothermal, hydro as the two sources in particular, where I think that sub 2 cent power is probably achievable.

Preston Pysh (41:21):
So when we fast forward 10 years into the future, 15 years into the future, these locations that have these naturally occurring, just abundant, ridiculously abundant energy, these are going to be the hubs. These are going to be the financial hubs of where Bitcoin is distributed at a geographic location of where those coins are going to initially flow into. Now, whether the ownership is of the business that owns them, is there where the hardware is located is maybe not necessarily going to be the case, but as far as the location where the hardware is at, that’s going to be it, correct?

Harry Sudock (41:57):
It is correct. I think of Bitcoin mining, it’s basically like a giant egg crate and you basically throw a glass of water onto the egg crate and if you give it enough time, the water settles at the lowest points in the egg crate. That’s where the miners will end up in the long-term in the steady state. The scenario you introduce is actually, again, theoretically, very interesting. There’s a huge premium right now on mining the soonest Bitcoin, not necessarily mining for the longest, where in 10 years, there’s many fewer Bitcoins available to you per megawatt hour of energy purchased or per terahash unit contributed to the network. So in our opinion, time premium is actually bigger than marginal energy cost premium at the edges. That doesn’t mean go buy 7 cent power for us.

Preston Pysh (42:53):
It also speaks to the regulatory vulnerability being probably one of the biggest factors right now in the near term. As you’re thinking about capturing as many coins as possible in the near term versus in the future, it’s everybody’s going to allow it because they’d be crazy not to, as they’re trying to compete with this global money that’s made its way through the entire global economy.

Harry Sudock (43:17):

Preston Pysh (43:17):

Harry Sudock (43:19):
The thing with Bitcoin is that it’s pretty easy, or not easy. It is reasonable to predict the 20 year future. It is utterly impossible to predict a two year future.

Preston Pysh (43:29):
Talk to us about, I don’t know how familiar or well versed you are on this, but Blockstream just came out with a note that’s associated with their mining and this was in order to raise capital so they could buy hardware, buy infrastructure. Then the amount of coins that are being mined with that hardware, because it’s tied to the hashing power, like whatever amount that you buy the note for has an associated hashing amount that comes with it. Then whatever Bitcoin, they were able to mine with that over a three-year period of time, you’re able to collect that in Bitcoin.

Preston Pysh (44:02):
You’re going to receive that back as your coupon. This seems like a really, really innovative way to structure the cost of hardware and also structure the operational risk. All of those things, all wrapped into this really unique financial instrument. I’m curious if you’re seeing other businesses that are looking at doing something similar to this, or just your thoughts in general, on that type of vehicle.

Harry Sudock (44:29):
There’s two financial products wrapped up into one in your question. One of them is how do miners reliably engage in capital formation to buy hardware. That’s really expensive. These are not a traditional VC backed business. We certainly aren’t. I think we’ll achieve sort of VC backable returns, but because Bitcoin does half the work and we do have to work. So as long as that relationship exists, we’re a weird business.

Harry Sudock (44:57):
Really what we’re best fit for is like a bunch of project finance, but that doesn’t really exist at maturity yet because the pricing of the future Bitcoin cash flows isn’t seen as safe enough, I think in a lot of capital markets. So I think that what Blockstream is doing A, is really good for the investors. I think people taking on mining risk and receiving their coupon in Bitcoin is awesome. I think it’s really valuable. It’s an exciting financial product.

Harry Sudock (45:22):
So they’re solving capital formation in an interesting way. The other instrument that they’re in the process of solving for is how do I hedge difficulty and how do I hedge Bitcoin price, and there’ve been a lot of swings at this that a bunch of different people have taken, but really what people want to do is they want to be … And I’m speaking from the perspective of the miner, is they want to be long difficulty and they want to be short Bitcoin price.

Preston Pysh (45:52):
I need to wrap my head around that. They want to be long difficulty and short Bitcoin price?

Harry Sudock (45:59):
Yeah. A miner’s, natural position, I buy rig, I plug in rig, I mine Bitcoin. You’re short difficulty because your Bitcoin yield goes up when difficulty goes down. So you’re naturally shorter and your long Bitcoin, because your ASIC is correlated to Bitcoin and your revenues are obviously Bitcoin denominated. So the way you hedge that is with a product that gets you long difficulty and short price.

Preston Pysh (46:26):
I got you. Your returns aren’t going to be nearly as good as just buying the underlying, but if you’re looking for something that removes the volatility out of Bitcoin, you’re going to achieve it through owning something like this, but it’s going to be at a lower return.

Harry Sudock (46:41):
Exactly. So ideally this would be a product that you would be able to roll out for whatever percentage of your COGS … Your business needs to achieve reliably. Then it’s about how much of a haircut are you willing to take to achieve stability on your COGS, cost of goods sold.

Preston Pysh (47:00):
Got it. Hey, so we had a question on Twitter. A person was asking, “What’s the hottest topic right now in passive cooling and where the technology is heading to.”

Harry Sudock (47:14):
This is a very technical question. It’s a very interesting one, but the question is really what is the best way to design a Bitcoin mining facility. That’s really what’s being asked here. It’s being asked around, how do you cool and there’s sort of a two-prong school of thought, which is air cool versus liquid cool. We think that air cooled can really work effectively, but not everywhere. So we’re seeing a ton of machines come online in Texas from a lot of different operators, and there’s certainly areas within the ERCOT grid within west Texas that needs liquid cool, immersion cooling to function effectively.

Harry Sudock (47:53):
So our expectation is that that’s going to be an area of growth. We’re excited about where it’s headed, but we want to make sure to be part of the group that gets it right, not that tries to get it early.

Preston Pysh (48:04):
It just shows, I think the question really demonstrates to people just how complex all of the considerations that you have to make as you’re trying to allocate the free cash flows of your business, while constantly offsetting them with just the price of Bitcoin and retaining your earnings in Bitcoin. Right now is a perfect example where we just had the price get down to like 30,000 now.

Preston Pysh (48:30):
I’m looking at the price right now. Evidently, it just went up to 40,000. I see your eyes just lit up. It’s back to 38. The thing’s all over the place. It’s so volatile and you’re trying to get that timing right of like this precious thing that you’re mining and you’re trying to retain at all costs, but you also want to keep buying more rigs so that you can get more of this stuff and that equation is anything but simple, especially when you’re talking about like, well, so what does the cooling get you as far as being able to run the machine harder? Oh my Lord, it’s just so complex. It’s amazing.

Harry Sudock (49:08):
The beauty of this business is, and what you just described is why I have so much respect for anybody operating mining at scale, is just that there are no experts yet. The most expert people have been around for four, five, six years. What other business has the most seasoned veterans with five years experience? Nobody.

Preston Pysh (49:29):
Nobody. Exactly.

Harry Sudock (49:32):
You know about the history of airplanes. What did the airplane industry look like five years in, relative to today?

Preston Pysh (49:38):
Relative to today. It’s just laughable-

Harry Sudock (49:40):[inaudible 00:49:40] and we’re there. So my perspective is that truly mature, industrial scale, future proof, Bitcoin miners are getting forged today, but that operations don’t look like that yet. There’s a tremendous amount of money to be made. There’s a tremendous amount of capital formation required to do it, but the people operating these businesses successfully are really, really, really, really special and that’s not me.

Harry Sudock (50:09):
That credit on our team goes to the engineering folks, goes to the people writing all of this proprietary software, running all of this detailed analysis around hardware and mechanical engineering. This is a deeply technical business and we’re lost without them on our team.

Preston Pysh (50:26):
I really like this question. A person asks the easiest method to shield BTC to state grid operators.

Harry Sudock (50:33):
No megawatt goes unsold.

Preston Pysh (50:35):
So with that … I love that. How do you involve the bigger players in energy production like GE Mitsubishi, Siemens? How do you start to get them more involved and more excited about this? Because that’s the sell, like you said. What was it? Three or four words.

Harry Sudock (50:54):
The sell is, show me a detailed breakdown of every hour in the last five years and the price you sold it for and all the ones where you didn’t sell them, you got to be honest and cop to it. So look at those revenues and compare that to a 1% energy mix allocation to Bitcoin mining, and what does that do for financial returns? It’s ridiculous.

Preston Pysh (51:15):
Yeah. Especially if you drop it on their balance sheet at the price that they mined it.

Harry Sudock (51:20):
Exactly. Exactly. That’s the thing. The detractors to Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining just aren’t running the numbers. This is a ridiculously valuable business and the reason that it’s so exciting is it’s so transferrable conceptually to massive infrastructure across other areas of the grid, of energy generation, of utilities, of all the ONG stuff that’s going on. So the sell for Bitcoin to a hedge fund is pretty easy. The sell for Bitcoin mining to an energy operator should be easy.

Preston Pysh (51:59):
But you’re saying it’s not.

Harry Sudock (52:04):
To me, it’s like the same thing that we just talked about with the way that Mike Saylor is able to enact his capital formation, Bitcoin allocation strategy, versus why a miner can’t do it as easily. There’s operational risks, there’s business risks, there’s volatility risks. That’s harder to tolerate in our business and that’s why we have levered upside to the underwire. We get paid for it.

Preston Pysh (52:25):
Do you see them coming around? Has the conversation gotten easier in the past year?

Harry Sudock (52:29):

Preston Pysh (52:30):
It has.

Harry Sudock (52:31):
We get inbound at this point.

Preston Pysh (52:33):
Oh, that’s awesome.

Harry Sudock (52:35):
I think that there’s a gap in between people saying, “We’re ready to mine Bitcoin directly to our balance sheet,” versus, “Hey, can we develop a relationship with you Griid, the Bitcoin miner to better optimize our energy revenues.” So we’re still living in the, we generate and sell power and we’re living in the world of we buy power. That’s still the nature of the relationship rather than the energy producer saying, “Hey, how do we [inaudible 00:52:59] balance sheet and how do we use mining to do it?”

Harry Sudock (53:01):
So we’re not there yet, but I think that the conversation around what role does the Bitcoin miner play within a stable, reliable, high uptime grid, that has changed dramatically and we’ve been at the forefront of that. So when we think about how to make Bitcoin mining work in the US, we spend a massive amount of time investing in our energy relationships, and those investments have paid off massively. We love working deeply with energy partners and we think that it’s at the core of everything we do.

Preston Pysh (53:33):
All right. Harry, it’s hard for me to believe that we’ve been talking for an hour already, because that went super fast. My last question is for you to pull out your crystal ball here, and everyone wants to know when you think the hash rate is going to reach a new all-time high, and then I’ll tell you what my guess is after this. Then when we’re both wrong, probably everyone can tease us.

Harry Sudock (53:56):
Yeah, fair.

Preston Pysh (53:57):
let’s hear it.

Harry Sudock (53:59):
I think that we see new hash rate all time high … Let’s just be specific. Does that mean 180X a hash?

Preston Pysh (54:06):
Yeah, if that’s whatever the high was before, then yes. I don’t even know what it was and here I am guessing.

Harry Sudock (54:14):
Let’s use the data. I’m looking at a seven day average over the last year. The peak on the seven day average was 179.3. I think we returned to that in 10 months.

Preston Pysh (54:30):
All right. I was going to say Christmas day, but now you got me concerned because you’re a little bit further out there than me. You’re biasing my original guests. I’ll say Valentine’s day 2022. We’ll see what happens. I’m with you. I think it’s going to take a lot of time for this to come back online. Everything that was shut down in China. So it’s almost like you have to rebuild all that hashing that has occurred and when you look at how far it’s come down, that took a year to build to where we got to. That was like a year of building hash rate.

Preston Pysh (55:04):
So it’s going to be interesting to see how long this takes. I know there’s a lot of people that are interested in knowing when the price is going to recover back to the previous all time high, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to get there faster than the hash rate recovery, but who knows. We’ll find out. Any highlights or anything … Any articles that you read that were really interesting or anything that you want to point people towards here at the end?

Harry Sudock (55:29):
I think that the industry really benefits from more people who are fluent around energy. So there’s a great book that’s out there right now, and I promise no affiliations called The Grid, one I. It’s by Gretchen Bakke. After the colon is, The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future. I think that even if some of your listeners are not all the way bought into Bitcoin, which I don’t know after listening to you how they wouldn’t be, but we all have a huge vested interest in high reliability, high stability, energy being available to us.

Harry Sudock (56:03):
It’s integral to everything we do. It’s part of leading a modern high quality life. So getting more informed around how energy is created, how it’s transmitted and how it gets consumed is just a really … I think it’s a fundamental coherence building block for the modern conversation around energy, which is bigger than Bitcoin for now, but I think the queen plays a vital role in that conversation going forward.

Preston Pysh (56:28):
Awesome. Awesome recommendation. I’m going to pick that up. People, if you want to find a Harry, I’m going to have a link in the show notes to his Twitter. What is the handle on Twitter, Harry?

Harry Sudock (56:39):
It’s @harry_sudock. S-U-D-O-C-K. I welcome all resumes.

Preston Pysh (56:46):
Well, there you go, folks. If you’re interested in working with Harry, make sure you guys follow him on Twitter and we’re also going to have a link to the book recommendation there as well. Harry, with that, thank you so much for coming on. I always enjoy these chats.

Harry Sudock (57:01):
Awesome Preston. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Preston Pysh (57:04):
Hey, so thanks for everybody listening to the show. If you enjoyed the conversation, be sure to subscribe to the show on whatever podcast app you’re using. We really appreciate that, and if you have time, leave us a review. So thanks for joining us this week and we’ll catch you next Wednesday.

Outro (57:18):
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