Over half a dozen residents of this San Francisco 'castle' have become bitcoin millionaires -- take a look inside

The Crypto Castle is a three-story home in San Francisco where young tech workers eat, sleep, party, and plot the future of money.

A majority of the millennial tenants invest in bitcoin, a new kind of payment system that allows people to buy things and send money with anonymity. There are no banks or middlemen. Transactions are recorded on a digital ledger called a blockchain.

Cryptocurrencies (of which bitcoin is the most popular) have been on a tear in 2017. Bitcoin surged in value from about $US200 per token in 2015 to above $US4,000 in August.
Some believe the digital payment system is headed for a bubble that’s destined to pop.

“Over a half-dozen people in the time they have lived in my house have become millionaires as a result of crypto,” said Jeremy Gardner, a 25-year-old entrepreneur and investor.

In 2015, Gardner, the then-director of operations at Augur, a market forecasting tool that runs on the blockchain, put down a $US20,000 deposit to rent the house. It’s become a landing pad for people working in cryptocurrency-related tech.

Here’s what it’s like to live in the Crypto Castle among newly minted millionaires.

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The Crypto Castle is, by appearances, a fraternity-like space for young bitcoin investors.

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Not everyone who lives here works in bitcoin tech, though any resident could pitch you on its merits. Some entrepreneurs moved in simply because they needed a place to crash.

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In 2015, Gardner surveyed the city to find a house-slash-office for his startup, Augur. When he found a three-story home in an upscale neighbourhood -- located about a half-hour drive from Silicon Valley -- he forked over the $20,000 rental deposit. The Crypto Castle was born.

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Jeremy Gardner.

The house has since become a 'landing pad for anyone doing cool stuff for the industry,' Gardner said. Most residents and guests, who sleep in bunks, are in their early 20s.

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'I don't think you can be in this house for two hours without being evangelized,' Gardner said. His net worth has exploded since buying bitcoin at $200 a token in 2013.

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Vivian Ford, head of operations at Comma, a self-driving-car technology startup, started investing in bitcoin within a week of moving in, calling it 'the best investment I've ever made.'

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Viviane Ford.

Now, her friends are coming out of the woodwork to ask for her financial guidance.

'They will text me like, 'I think we should meet up -- you seem to know a lot about this crypto stuff,' and it's like, ugh, do your reading,' Ford told me on a recent visit to the house.

Another roommate, Alex Voto, runs a research lab at Palo Alto's Institute for the Future. He forecasts how bitcoin might affect the social, economic, and political spheres.

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As you move through the house, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary residence.

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Anyone who wishes to become a full-time resident must read the current issue of 'Distributed,' a cryptocurrency trade magazine. A stack sits at the front door.

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The fridge wears cryptocurrency-related startup stickers like badges of honour.

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The kitchen comes stocked with two beverages: Soylent (a chalky-tasting meal-replacement beverage backed by venture capital) and booze. Lots of booze.

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A few tenants said living among so many motivated tech workers can be exhausting. Ford recalled coming back from a run one Saturday and being bombarded by her coworkers.

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Until 2016, her employer, Comma, ran operations out of the basement. Founder George Hotz, a Silicon Valley wunderkind, built his first self-driving car in the garage.

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Hotz also lived in this closet. 'The work-life balance just didn't exist,' Ford said.

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Aaron Power-Bearden, an equities trader and a bitcoin enthusiast, said he enjoys the late-night talks with his housemates in the living room. 'Mostly it's about finance,' he said.

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One house guest told me that the last time he was at the house, a random inhabitant grilled him a hot dog. 'Two weeks later, I found out it was the cofounder of Oculus,' he said.

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In the Crypto Castle, no one needs to travel far to find smart, like-minded people.

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The Crypto Castle offers prices that can't be beat in the nation's most expensive rental market. Tenants split the monthly rent. Gardner guesses the home is worth $3 million.

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Over the last few years, Gardner has turned the majority of his savings and stock in public companies into cryptocurrency investments. His gains subsidise his cost of living.

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'By dedicating my life to crypto assets and blockchain technology, I've made more money than I would have ever expected to make in my entire life -- by a long shot,' Gardner said.

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