VC Firms' Tech Stocks Fell 44%—After Buying Them Up In The Selloff Read More

Art by Haejin Park. Photo by Bloomberg.
Art by Haejin Park. Photo by Bloomberg.

The Beltway’s ‘Bitcoin Lady’: How Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis Became Crypto’s Most Powerful Champion

From Republican freshman to savior of a $2 trillion industry, the senator is determined to convert her colleagues into Bitcoin believers.

Art by Haejin Park. Photo by Bloomberg.
Jan. 14, 2022 11:04 AM PST

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming, has a nickname for her favorite cryptocurrency: “It’s freedom money,” she says of Bitcoin, which she holds to the tune of about a quarter million dollars. “It’s freedom money if you’re a libertarian; if you’re a progressive; a person on the far left; a run-of-the-mill Republican.”

I’m sitting in Lummis’ office on a snowy Washington afternoon in January, asking her to explain her love of digital currency. We were due to meet in person, but the senator’s schedule has gotten messy, and so she’s calling from a car on the way to another meeting before catching a flight.

Her absence gives me the chance to survey her office, which is outfitted in contemporary Wyoming conservative style. Hanging on one wall is the mounted head of a jackalope, the mythical half-jackrabbit, half-antelope creature that is Wyoming’s unofficial mascot. On her desk is a copy of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s new anti–Anthony Fauci book. On a stuffed bookshelf, I see the spine of “CryptoDad: The Fight for the Future of Money,” one of the books—Saifedean Ammous’ “The Bitcoin Standard” and Nik Bhatia’s “Layered Money” are others—that Lummis often carries down the halls of the Capitol, to banking committee hearings, even onto the Senate floor. It’s her way of signaling her highest priority at the moment: to lead the debate over how to regulate the $2 trillion cryptocurrency industry.

Back in Lummis’ office a week later, I ask the senator—who is sitting in a striped armchair in front of a fireplace and dressed all in black—to expand on her definition of “freedom money.” The cryptocurrency, she argues, will always hold its value, due to the hard cap on the number of bitcoin that can ever be mined (21 million). “It’s ‘freedom from poverty’ money,” she says. “It’s ‘freedom from Venezuela’s totalitarian regime’ money. It’s ‘freedom from runaway inflation’ money. It’s ‘freedom from the Chinese Communist Party’ money.” She throws her arms into the air. “To me that just says ‘freedom’ to people who have no personal freedom in their lives.”

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
The Briefing markets startups
Sequoia, Andreessen and Bessemer’s Beating and Snap’s Selfie Drone
Sequoia Capital's office in Menlo Park, Calif.
Is anybody else pumped for some appointment streaming this weekend? The first episode of HBO’s “House of Dragon,” the hotly anticipated prequel series to “Game of Thrones,” premieres Sunday night. Then, 12 days later, Amazon will debut its own fantasy series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” on Sept. 2. It’s fair to say HBO and its debt-laden parent company, Warner Bros....
Latest Briefs
Apple Warns Mac, iPhone, iPad Users of Critical Security Flaws
Snap Halts Development on Its Selfie Drone Pixy
China Lashes Out Against New U.S. Chips Act
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Illustration by Clark Miller
Man v. Machine ai
Can Creatives Survive the Future War Against Dall-e 2?
Earlier this year, Karen X. Cheng, a video director in San Francisco, was commissioned by a client to make an augmented reality dress for special events.
Art by Clark Miller
Bought and Sold media/telecom
Meet Axios’ New Owners: Old-Money Atlanta Billionaires Hungry for the Next Big Thing
The pitch Sebastian Thrun made to investors in 2014 was an alluring one. Thrun—former head of Google X, the company’s top-secret skunkworks—had already raised over $20 million for his buzzy online-education startup, Udacity.
Gili Raanan of Cyberstarts. Art by Clark Miller
Exclusive startups enterprise
How a Former Sequoia Capital Partner Cornered the Israeli Security Startup Market
Whenever a cybersecurity startup seeks capital from venture capital firms in Israel, whose military trains an outsize number of security software entrepreneurs, the first thing prospective investors usually do is check whether Gili Raanan has invested in it.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read
‘It’s Just Bad News All the Time’: With the Tech Economy Buckling, Silicon Valley Therapists Are in High Demand
Over the last couple of months, David Mahabali has become highly skilled at lugging pillows, floor pads and blankets around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Art by Clark Miller.
Exclusive startups asia
How Instagram’s TikTok Envy Finally Backfired
Last month, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and other influencers stirred up a public relations firestorm for Instagram, complaining to their hundreds of millions of followers about the app's recent attempts to mimic TikTok.
Bolt co-founder Ryan Breslow. Photo by Julian Buitrago. Art by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive startups venture capital
Startup Workers Find Founders Cashed Out When They Couldn’t
A few weeks before Ryan Breslow stepped down as CEO of commerce software startup Bolt in January, he made a deal with investors.