Tech by VICE

Netflix Competitor Crackle Is Banking on a Show About Bitcoin, er, GenCoin

GenCoin seems pretty familiar...

by Jordan Pearson
Apr 20 2016, 5:54pm

Image: Flickr/Jonathan Waller

Right, OK, so let's get this out of the way. There's a new gritty TV drama about bitcoin—except it's called GenCoin, it stars Adam Brody, it's called StartUp because of course it is, it's a Crackle Original™, and the first trailer is out today, which is also 4/20.

That StartUp exists at all is remarkable for a few reasons. First off, the horse-race of which will jump the shark first, bitcoin or this show, is sure to be a nailbiter.

Secondly, what? Crackle, Sony's play at competing with Netflix in the crowded streaming market, is officially hitching its wagon to bitcoin hype in order to elevate itself above the perception of being a D-rate Netflix alternative. This is either a genius move or a terrible miscalculation.

While Mr. Robot traded on legit hacker cred to attract a more tech-savvy audience, it also relied on tech tropes recognizable to a wider audience—just ask a friend to tell you what both Anonymous and bitcoin are and see which they manage to get through. Bitcoin is still a relatively niche interest, and it's not clear if its cultural cachet can float an entire TV show.

As for the content of StartUp itself, the trailer doesn't really explain what's going on, but according to Variety, the show "explores what happens when a brilliant, yet controversial tech idea gets incubated on the wrong side of the tracks by three strangers who don't necessarily fit the mold of tech entrepreneurs."

This kind of sounds like what every tech entrepreneur already thinks of themselves, so whatever, but here's where things get interesting: the group apparently funded their startup with dirty money from a Haitian gang and are now caught in a fight for their lives.

Something tells me that getting a totally baseless multi-million dollar valuation in the real world of startup funding, where "unicorns" are not a totally laughable concept, would've been much easier.

And if the show really wants to accurately portray bitcoin, you'd better believe there's going to be an eight episode stretch where all the developers just stand around yelling at each other about what to do next.

But while bitcoin users themselves can't really seem to decide which way bitcoin should go—will the digital currency be a tool for the finance sector, or regular folk?—the people behind StartUp seem to have it all figured out.

"It's the future, and not just of crime," the apparent inventor of GenCoin, played by Otmara Marrero, says weightily. "… Of commerce."

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