Crypto Confidential tells the salacious story of the industry everyone is talking about right now. Written by a prominent and well-connected insider, it is an uncompromising first-hand account of the exorbitant greed and systemic corruption that typifies the cultish world of cryptocurrency.

We caught up with Jake Donoghue, author of Crypto Confidential, to get the low down.

What were your initial thoughts about cryptocurrency and how has your position changed?

Initially I was sceptical; it all seemed too good to be true, and I noticed a glut of outlandish, hyperbolic claims about what was happening in the industry and what the tech was capable of. However, there was (and indeed still is) a lot of money in the space, so this not only served as a kind of validation of the claims – nobody would be buying this stuff if it didn’t actually work, right? – but it was also an incredibly persuasive force in putting doubts and scepticism to the side.

Eventually, though, my initial thoughts proved to be vindicated; not only did it become clear the industry was fuelled by little more than rampant hype and speculation but, after venturing further and further down the rabbit hole, the true state of things turned out to be worse than I could ever have imagined.

Aside from your own experience as an active insider, what other kinds of research did you do for the book?

Most of the research involved thinking back to the events which happened over the period the book covers, looking back through the materials I kept from my career in crypto, and then putting all this down on paper. However a big chunk of the text is devoted to detailing the broader events which transpired on the industry stage throughout my tenure, so that involved trawling through a lot of articles, social media posts, forums and the like to get all the facts straight and ensure none of the gory details were left out.

What did you find most challenging about the writing process?

I feel this would best be answered by leaking some content from the Author’s Note at the start of the book:

The pace at which crypto moves, and the speed with which the whole landscape can change…  Just when I would finish a section detailing the fall of a crypto bro’s once-great company, my phone would ping with a news alert saying the character in question had been arrested that morning. Just when I would be putting the final touches on an anecdote about a player whose escapades resulted in his reputational ruin and exile from the industry, I would see on his social media that he’d managed to pull off a redemption arc.

Your book reveals infinite shady dealings and a ‘macho’ recklessness: Do you think certain personality types are more drawn to the crypto world?

Absolutely! When I worked in crypto I was a frequent face on the conference circuit; too many evenings were spent rubbing shoulders with crypto bros at events, receptions, meet-ups etc. The other speakers and attendees were almost exclusively male, and there was often a very toxic atmosphere. It was a heady combination of testosterone, arrogance and money. I suppose this was to be expected from an industry which primarily attracts the ruthlessly ambitious, stop-at-nothing to get-rich-quick types. Either that, or shameless hype beasts without much going on behind the eyes.

You cite a number of high-profile disasters in the crypto space, such as Terra Luna and SBF. Why do you think a steadfast belief in the currency remains?

The collapses of Terra Luna and FTX, and the contagion which spread throughout the industry in their aftermath, shook out a lot of retail investors who were new to the space. Many of the people who remained had been in crypto for a long time. I knew some – who are still active in the industry today – who bought bitcoin at $1,000, $100 or even $10. For them the collapse from $60,000 down to $11,000 didn’t really touch the sides. They kept up their relentlessly bullish narrative, and then when asset prices started appreciating again and retail started piling back in, they looked like they had been right all along, despite the massive fraud cases which came to light in 2022.

In essence, memories prove quite fleeting when a lot of money is in view.

How would you sum up Crypto Confidential in 3 words?

Pretty damn wild.

What’s your favourite piece of crypto slang?

I find most of it quite cringe, although WAGMI (we’re all gonna make it) can make for quite a good ironic quip when asset prices collapse or a project gets indicted for fraud (all too common occurrences, unfortunately).

What effect do you hope Crypto Confidential will have in the world of crypto?

If it prevents just one person from losing all their money in crypto, I’ll chalk it up as a success.

What key piece of advice would you give other debut authors?

Consistency is key. Getting started and continuing to progress with what can often seem a Sisyphean task is no mean feat, so try to get into the habit of living out the Latin dictum (which was a personal favourite of Zola’s): nulla dies sine linea. Or, less pretentiously, no day without a line. Aim to do at least a bit of writing every day, and you’ll often find that once you start writing it’s easy to find a rhythm and continue. That, and be persistent; rejection is a big part of the submission process, so learn to love it.

Having the inside scoop on one of the most fraudulent industries in history also doesn’t hurt.