Bitcoin helped Joe secure his fortune but he would no longer recommend it as investors risk financial ruin

Joe Bridge has bought two motorbikes, two boats and his first house with the $1 million-plus he made on bitcoin, but he doesn’t recommend trying to replicate his success. 

The 38-year-old became enamoured with the obscure art of coin mining in 2013 while living with his parents in Paddington, in inner Brisbane. 

He was studying law and had no IT training, but ran software day and night on a network of three computers and 10 graphics cards that would win him litecoin and dogecoin.

So intense was the operation, pockets of the house reached 50 degrees Celsius and the power bills topped $600 a month despite a “fairly advanced solar system on the roof”.

He mined enough litecoin and dogecoin to swap them for more than a dozen bitcoins.

Mr Bridge outside his home in Clontarf, in Brisbane’s bayside, which he bought outright with cryptocurrency earnings.(ABC News: Kym Agius)

For the next four years, they were just “lying around”, unsecured, on a number of phones and computers.

The penny dropped that he was sitting on a gold mine at the start of summer 2017, their value had skyrocketed and even his mother began asking him across the dinner table what he was going to do.

Mr Bridge decided to sell off a small amount of his stock to treat himself in “dribs and drabs”, buying motorbikes and boats.

But he held on to the lion’s share in the belief their worth would increase.

And that it did.

Joe Bridge with his motorbike.
One of the two motorbikes Mr Bridge now owns thanks to bitcoin.(ABC News: Alex Papp)

By November 2021, bitcoin reached what would be its all-time peak.

Coincidently, Mr Bridge and his partner wanted to buy a home “by the water” in Clontarf, north-east of Brisbane.

They had enough cash already for a deposit and had their offer in, but Mr Bridge did not know exactly how much he would make on the remainder of the bitcoins in order to buy the house outright, as promised.

Their price was fluctuating hourly.

“It was difficult to do my job because there were constant checks on the price, I wouldn’t really recommend it,” he said.

“The main issue was proving to the real estate agent that I had the money.

Joe Bridge at his computer.
Mr Bridge now works, remotely, for a finance software company.(ABC News: Kym Agius )

Mr Bridge ended up selling off 85 per cent of what he had, or 11 coins at $80,000 a piece, making $880,000 to buy the home, mortgage-free.

He then sold off more to pay for his impending tax bill — estimated to be $290,000.

“It is definitely the biggest I have paid by a long, long margin .”

‘It’s a dangerous time’

Looking back at the experience, Mr Bridge said there was a “lot of luck” involved.

It has afforded him a mortgage-free life and a career change.

He now works in IT for a finance software company — an area, it turns out, he has “a bit of an aptitude for”.

It does weigh on his mind, though, that the people he sold the coins to would have lost money.

Line graph showing the value of all cryptocurrencies plummeting since November 2021.
The cryptocurrency market peaked at $US3 trillion in November 2021.(Coinmarketcap)

“I’ve done well and fortuitously, I didn’t hang on to it,” he said.

“I think it’s a dangerous time to be getting into it.

“I would imagine it’s possible [to still make money]. Would I recommend it? No. I’m not currently participating.”

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