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X Hall of Flame – Cointelegraph Magazine

Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas, who typically covers the somewhat dull trends of traditional finance, stirred things up in the office when he became a key figure in the Bitcoin ETF approval coverage last year.

“I’m in a team of 10 people. Some people in the team mock James [Seyffart, fellow ETF analyst] and I. Other times, people who follow me online for ETF stuff get a little tired of it,” Balchunas tells Magazine.

But he shrugged off the teasing because he was dead certain that this Bitcoin ETF approval saga is a “once-in-a-decade situation.”

A decade ago he was markedly less keen on a Bitcoin ETF, but as his interest and knowledge in Bitcoin grew, so did his audience. Balchunas and Seyffart bet on the winning horse by making some bullish predictions the SEC would approve a spot Bitcoin ETF by January 10 — and last week, right on the deadline regulator approved 11 applications.

Balchunas has been pumping up his 219,200 X followers with increasing confidence this would happen since June 2023, with almost every utterance hung on by Bitcoiners.

He pretty much took on a second role, becoming the TradFi version of Doctor Dolittle, but instead of talking to the animals, he’s talking to the crypto bros.

“People were looking for a non-crypto person to give the lay of the land,” he explains.

“What James [Seyffart] and I did in the crypto world was that it needed an interpreter in traditional finance. The ETF was a storyline to do that. The educational side, how the ETF and the regulatory process works. I think we provided that.”

However, he explains there are some fringe users who believe he has ulterior motives. 

“One guy keeps thinking I’m doing this to pump my bags, we actually have a funny relationship,” he laughs.

Despite his embrace of Bitcoin ETFs, he still has one gripe about Bitcoin — it hasn’t really done what it was supposed to do.

“The one issue I still have with Bitcoin, it was meant to always be a currency. This is a real currency and it went away. The price is volatile, and it is more like a commodity, it’s like gold,” he states.

He admits that the switch from currency to commodity made him a little skeptical.

However, Balchunas thinks Bitcoin’s got balls of steel, handling the negative media coverage it’s faced over the years, like a pro.

“It made me respect it, it’s relentless, it came right back. It has a cockroach mentality, you can’t get rid of it, even after being trashed in the media.”



What led to X fame?

Even though Balchunas has been in the game for a long time, he’s quick to admit that the crypto community really bolstered his social media numbers.

“Crypto people are really good at engagement, it has really increased my following,” he says.

He also appreciates that the crypto crowd don’t take themselves too seriously, unlike those straight-laced finance bros at the office.

“With traditional finance you don’t get personality, everyone is worried about their compliance officer, so it’s been fun and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he says.

He first noticed a spike in his following when BlackRock filed for a Bitcoin ETF in June 2023.

But things really kicked into gear when he started throwing out predictions—going all the way down to specific percentage chances of SEC approval.

“We did this before it was cool, back then it was harder to say that,” he declares.

“People wanted to hear that, we were the most optimistic and it definitely added followers.”

What type of content do you do?

Anyone in the crypto scene, especially those following the Bitcoin ETF drama, likely knows Balchunas by now. 

He’s been on top of all the Bitcoin ETF filings, amendments, and SEC decisions. 

Now that 11 spot Bitcoin ETFs got the green light last week, what’s next? Is Balchunas taking off, or is he sticking around?

“The race is going to keep us going for a while, we’ll be tracking the ETFs,” he says.

But as time rolls on and the hype dies down, he figures it’ll just become a routine part of his ETF coverage and soon enough he’ll likely find himself back to spending most of his time in the less glamorous world of other ETFs, like precious metals.

“Over time, this will be phased into a smaller proportion of our coverage.”

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What type of content do you like?

Despite his TradFi background, Balchunas is really tuned in to the crypto community and he appreciates accounts who break down Bitcoin in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand for their audience. 

His personal favorites include anon account Bitcoin Archive, prominent crypto podcaster Scott Melker aka The Wolf of All Streets, and venture capitalist Nic Carter.

Balchunas says Carter, who is also the co-founder of blockchain data aggregator Coinmetrics, is “a real warrior.”

“I’ve been following him through the whole FTX downfall, and enjoyed his insights,” he says.

Predictions?

Now it’s time to ask Mr. Balchunas to bless the Hall of Flame with his Bitcoin price forecast.

“Even if I was allowed, it’s such a wild asset,” he laughs.

Despite a bit of prodding, he’s not quite ready to dish out an exact number. Which makes sense. Not worth triggering a bunch of HR meetings at Bloomberg over just this one interview.

Or maybe he is just avoiding the regret of imagining the fortune he could have pocketed if he bought some Bitcoin when he first got wind of it.

“I first heard about Bitcoin in 2013, I should’ve bought some, I’m kicking myself now,” he says.

However, he does emphasize that the ETF is a crucial step toward achieving more stable crypto regulations in the United States.

Although, he predicts that until the election, “nothing will probably happen.” 

“If Biden wins again, there will be an attempt at regulation, but the Democrats are more antagonistic towards it,” he explains. 

“The ETF will provide an interesting experiment, it will do your work for you. The ETF will clean up the crypto world, and that is all they need.”

Ciaran Lyons

Ciaran Lyons is an Australian crypto journalist. He’s also a standup comedian and has been a radio and TV presenter on Triple J, SBS and The Project.


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