It doesn't take a genius to see that cryptocurrency enthusiasts skew overwhelmingly male, techno-centric and ... let's just say sometimes a bit socially obtuse.
CryptoWendyO is the striking exception to all of that.
A 30-something-year-old mom whose primers and prognostications are easy to digest, she has positioned herself as the crypto explainer for the regular Joe and Jane, the folks who have a real job but wouldn't mind putting a little money away to grow into a potential retirement fund. Her pleasant, plain-talking demeanor is a breath of fresh air in a space where all the oxygen seems to go to wannabe Elon Musks who evangelize to other true believers about the crypto revolution from the makeshift studios in their condos.
Her style has evidently found an eager audience, too. She boasts nearly 150,000 followers each on Twitter and TikTok, where she's on throughout the day, and 70,000 on her YouTube channel, where she posts weekly shows about investing in crypto, what the markets are doing and how cryptocurrencies and the various related tools work. Her most popular TikTok has been viewed over half a million time. Almost half her audience on that platform is female, countering a widespread assumption that crypto doesn’t appeal to women.
The attention she's received isn't all positive, though: CryptoWendyO doesn't reveal her full name because she’s been a target of misogynistic harassment, a common problem women still unfortunately face regularly in the crypto community.
The Business on Business spoke with CryptoWendyO recently about her roots, her success and where she's going next.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you end up bridging content creation with cryptocurrency?
CryptoWendyO: I hate being on camera. I don't like the way I look. I just feel like I'm the most awkward person in the world. So I didn't plan on creating content. That's not what I wanted to do in crypto.
I grew up very poor. I started off working in the retail sector [until] I realized, "Oh, we have a healthcare sector. I should probably go work in healthcare because it's consistent income." So I worked in infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, for seven years doing patient-client coordination. I worked with 200 to 300 patients. I knew their partners' names or kids' names or animals' names. And I was in community college at that time, because I was like, "I need to, I want to be a pharmacist, pharmacists are making six figures."
[But] I just had my daughter, I was driving to West Hollywood four times a week. And it was a three-hour commute round-trip. And the company started changing. They didn't really care about people anymore -- it was all about profit. So, I was like, "This isn't for me. I want to become an entrepreneur."
And I went into a TD Ameritrade, [but] I didn't know anything, because they don't teach you about personal finance. They don't really teach you about stocks, any of that type of stuff, in school. So they're like, "You need $25,000."
So it's like, "No, this is not going to work."
Back in 2011, I'd heard about Bitcoin from a family member. Back then, nobody was investing in Bitcoin. People were using it to buy things. And then I kept hearing about Bitcoin on libertarian radio, and I liked the sound of it. And, finally, I was in the proper headspace where I was willing to take risks. And then I bought my first part of Bitcoin, first part of Ethereum, and then Litecoin.
And then I saw these anonymous cartoon characters trading and making money on crypto Twitter, most of which is complete and utter bullshit. And I was like, "I can do this too."
I had a pretty strong math background, because you need that for pharmacy school -- which is silly, because pharmacists just Google stuff. And I really understood how Bitcoin worked and what it meant. And I was like, "This is great, because this gives power back to the people. This is great for the middle class, for the poor." Because I'm an underdog, because I've been there at one point in my life.
And then I went on Meetup.com, and I was like, "Why are there all these crypto meetups and [why do] they charge money? This is ridiculous. Bitcoin is supposed to be for the people."
I started hosting my own events. At first I was doing the basics, just learning with everybody else, since I was still pretty new to investing. And then they got so much bigger and people started coming to them. And then I was livestreaming. So that's how YouTube started. It wasn't even like, "I'm going to to be a content creator." It was like, "I want to share my experience at my events with everybody, globally."
You really believe in decentralized finance, as opposed to those who think of crypto as just an asset to have in a portfolio. Why is that?
If you're going to invest in this risky stuff, do it at your own convenience, do what works well, for you. Don't listen to me, don't listen to anybody else -- most of the stuff is going to go to zero. That's just how it works. However, the caveat there is we are in an emerging market. And we need competition, we need this stuff to happen. Of course, I don't want anybody to lose money. But at the same time, we need the industry to evolve.
“If you're going to invest in this risky stuff, do it at your own convenience... Don't listen to me, don't listen to anybody else — most of the stuff is going to go to zero. That's just how it works. ."
With DeFi [decentralized finance], the projects that it's creating, the services for people, they're amazing. The fact I can use a platform like Voyager, Celsius, Crypto.com, Gemini and earn a guaranteed 6% return per month, just by leaving some Bitcoin or stable coin there? You can't get that in your regular bank. Heck, even with some stocks, they don't give you a 6% return a year. 401(k)s, IRAs? They don't do that. So, for the average person to see this opportunity? Big wow.
Let's say you have $5,000 in a savings account, just sitting there. You're earning 1% back? But what if I take $2,500, buy a stable coin, put it in a platform that's paying me like 10% back per month, and then get that passive income?
Then we have DeFi loans. I always recommend getting a DeFi loan from a very, very safe platform, one that is legal, one that is certified, and where you vet everything, but you can get loans on the internet in 10 minutes with DeFi. If I go to my bank to get a loan, they're going to tell me, no, they won't give me a loan for a small business but they'll give me a loan to buy a car, to buy a house, to go into student loan debt. So the fact that I can go on the internet and get a loan in 10 minutes and improve my financial situation? Those are the things that I'm most excited about.
A lot of the major voices in the cryptocurrency community feed into the meme energy of it. There's this old tired joke that even when Bitcoin goes down, people say, "This is good for Bitcoin!" They seem unwilling to address those sides of it. So why do you make a point to stress the pitfalls in trading in cryptocurrencies?
Everybody's going to promote their interests. I do disclaimers for my promoted content, and if it just looks like a complete pump and dump, we stay away from that stuff. I get about 50 of these requests per week. I take maybe one a week. As long as you're honest and transparent about it, I don't really see the issue, because marketing is a very big part of every single industry, for sports or for food, anything. So even Bitcoin maximalists, they're shilling their bags but nobody talks about it. A lot of these guys got in Bitcoin early, and that's OK. It's OK to promote your interests.
But it's important to also educate and explain the risks. My most watched video on TikTok got about 550,000 views, and it was about a moon bag. It was about investing in something, it doesn't matter if it is a risky project or if it's Bitcoin or Ethereum, but it's about removing your initial investment when you're up. And the goal is to keep creating these moon bags so you have zero ties, essentially, to the project that you're still holding after you removed your initial investment. And you just continually do this over and over again and you increase your capital.
“Being in crypto and being in Bitcoin is about freedom. It's about being self-sovereign. It's about not censoring others. And I think the real problem in the industry is in other content creators, other influencers trashing somebody else for believing in something."
Another thing is that there are a lot of scams in the space. And it's my job as a content creator to bring that to people's attention. But one thing I'm not going to do is shame somebody for investing in something that I may think is a scam. I may think it's not legit, but it's not my place to do that. Being in crypto and being in Bitcoin is about freedom. It's about being self-sovereign. It's about not censoring others. And I think the real problem in the industry is in other content creators, other influencers trashing somebody else for believing in something.
There's going to be some pain, there's going to be some hurt in the market. But, at the same time, it's part of the growing pains.
Do you think your background, having grown up poor, makes you more empathetic toward people who see cryptocurrencies as an opportunity to get out of their disappointing financial circumstances?
The old neighborhood I lived in, most of the people there didn't work. There's a lot of gang violence, there's a lot of drugs, there's a lot of incarceration. I couldn't even go to the grocery store in my neighborhood. And a lot of people don't really care about those types of neighborhoods, they don't care about those types of people.
I think everybody deserves a better quality of life. And one of the things that makes me so upset about crypto is that a lot of these people that have made it are not giving back, or they're not spending time to educate people. I still go to the boxing gym where I used to live, and I'm giving these kids Bitcoin, I'm talking to them about crypto. I do have empathy for people. I worked in an industry with the HIV/AIDS community. You just have to treat people with kindness.
Right now, Bitcoin is around $34,000. What do you think that massive drop in the most notable cryptocurrency means for not just Bitcoin, but crypto as a whole?
Bitcoin was consolidating above $40,000, $45,000 to approximately $55,000 for like 100 days, while every single altcoin was down. When Bitcoin drops, generally all coins will follow. And that's OK, it's part of the market. You don't have to be this crazy-savvy trader to make money in crypto. What you do have to do is you have to educate yourself, you have to be willing to learn, you have to have stamina, you have to have grit, and you can't give up.
I always recommend people learn the basics of technical analysis and the basics of investing. If you're feeling that crazy FOMO, take a step back. Quench that FOMO and then set limit buys. Because at the end of the day, Bitcoin is great, I think it is digital gold, I think it is a great hedge against the U.S. dollar. Yes, you can use it for payments, there's a lot of great things about it. But at the same time, it's still a very speculative market, it is a very speculative asset. And that goes with altcoins as well. Just because you like an altcoin today doesn't mean it's going to be here a week from now or a month from now or six months from now. So just play this stuff smart.
Just make sure that you remove your initial investment and remove your profit and understand whatever you're investing in, because even if it's Bitcoin, this thing could go to zero.
One of the biggest arguments against cryptocurrency is the environmental factor. How do you think investors need to address that?
Something very amazing happened with El Salvador. Within 48 hours after El Salvador announced Bitcoin was to be legal tender, the president said, "You know what, Bitcoin is bad for the environment, [so] we're going to use 100% geothermal energy from volcanoes." So we had somebody who saw a problem [then] created a solution to it.
Everything humans do, there's a reaction. Something I learned in pharmacy classes was that you might be taking a medication for an upset tummy, and it's going to help your tummy heal, but, at the same time, there are side effects, and you can maybe get a headache, it can cause dehydration.
So Bitcoin does have an impact on the environment. Yes, there are people working together to fix this impact. But at the same time, these people, the people that are upset about the impact of Bitcoin on the environment, they're using cell phones, they're using computers, they're putting gas in their cars, they're driving cars, they're using public transportation. A lot of these people that are screaming the loudest, they're the ones that are using the most energy. People should really understand it costs money to cost money to print money. Since the beginning of time, even when man lit their first fire, that was leaving a carbon footprint.
You have a remarkable audience demographic. What does that say about the crypto community that people haven't understood yet?
I'm at like 42.8% female on TikTok, which is pretty amazing. Because it's crypto and people say women are not excited about crypto. No, they are excited about crypto, they just don't want to be on crypto Twitter and deal with all that mess. It's very toxic and very volatile. Women have a different approach to things.
At a [recent] meetup, I had about 100 people. Generally, it's all men and the women are there with their partners. But at this meetup, I had about 20 women that came on their own. And I thought that was really really amazing, because they were excited to talk to me and to network with people and learn more about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, and that that spoke volumes.
Crypto is so male-dominated. There are a lot of loud, male voices on there. So what was it like as you started to build an audience and gain notoriety as a woman going into that space?
Oh, it was it was great [sarcastically]. Everything I did was a scam. I was always a scammer. I was always an idiot. I was always a bitch for everything. I have always had a lot of support. I appreciate that. But our minds always remember the negative stuff.
I have a free newsletter. It's not monetized, no sponsors, but I've actually hired people to write for it. And I've had people harassing me saying, "Why don't you just write your own newsletters?" And I'm thinking to myself, "I don't know everything about crypto. So why would I write about something I don't know about when I can hire somebody who knows more about this subject?"
They pick little pieces to make their narrative fit. I do get a lot of really, really great feedback, and I get a lot of people that are interested in me and helping me. But at the same time, I do catch a lot of shit. And I'm thinking to myself, "Are you guys OK?" It's always generally the anonymous people. I just hope that they get the help they need.
How would you describe your approach to content?
I keep things as simple as possible. And it's not because I'm an idiot.
You have to understand I grew up in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles, California, is a melting pot, we have different cultures, we have different races, we have all different types of people. Not everybody's first language is English. Not everybody is smart, or math smart and tech smart.
So I keep my stuff simple. Because I think of myself back then: I didn't think I was smart enough to work in tech or to work in crypto or to do anything outside of customer service. And I was wrong. Now I'm here to help the average person. I'm here to help the person who may not think that they're smart enough or good enough to diversify and to explore other aspects [of finance] that could potentially change their life.
What's your business plan moving forward?
I just started looking at my content as a business recently. Like, I do charge to do sponsored content. And I also have an LLC where I do consulting and marketing on the side for blockchain companies, which I started at the end of 2019.
So now I'm really working on my content more as it being a business, like the newsletter, which we are going to start monetizing -- I'm going to start getting that Google ad revenue. And I went ahead and I hired people to write for me, because I'm not I make content like I do the video thing. I figured, why not hire people that can explain other things better than I can? It's always going to be free to my audience. But we are going to do get that Google ad revenue, and maybe we'll get a sponsor for that later on.
My main goal is to provide easy-to-digest educational content for everybody regardless of what your income is, who you are, where you come from. And if it's too basic for you, go to somebody that's a little bit more technical, because you're not going to get that with me.
Further down the road, what does sort of your your brand look like in your mind?
I just want to have a full team that helps me do all the things that I'm doing, because I am a mom, I have a family. We can help grow my community and also really provide education and empower people from all different backgrounds. If I can inspire one person to change their quality of life and they don't have to deal with any of the trauma that I did, that's amazing.
I do have an idea for a particular app that I want to create that's going to be coming. I just need to get some time to work on it. But I really just want to vibe and enjoy life and grow with other people and educate. When I was in healthcare, I was doing that daily. I don't really get to do that now face-to-face, but making content's kind of filled that void.