Eight years ago today Laszlo Hanyecz made history when he conducted what is widely believed to be the first ever purchase using bitcoin.
Largely an experiment to see what value, if any, bitcoin had, Hanyecz, a programmer who now works at a backpack startup, offered 10,000 bitcoins via an online forum to anyone who could bring him two Papa John’s pizzas.
Legend has it a fellow programmer in London accepted the offer, placed a call to Hanyecz’s local Papa John’s delivery joint in Jacksonville, Florida, and paid for the pizzas with his own credit card. Hanyecz sent over the bitcoins, the pizza was delivered, and a small, but important piece of history was made.
Prior to Hanyecz’s purchase, bitcoin was basically worthless, or by some accounts worth about $0.008 cents. But no one had ever actually spent a bitcoin before, so the prices were largely based on theoretical value. What Hanyecz did was help jumpstart the pricing of bitcoin, which is now selling for $8,229 each, making those pizzas worth more than $80 million at today’s rate.
Now, the 36-year-old Hanyecz has reemerged as a leader of sorts, exercising his own personal brand of activism in a number of ways, including convincing his employer, online apparel and gear startup GoRuck, to start accepting bitcoin effective immediately.
“We are about to start the bitcoin pizza party at GoRuck,” Hanyecz told Forbes. “To celebrate we are accepting Bitcoin as a payment method starting today.”
Bitcoin transactions for the Jackson, Florida-based startup are being priced in U.S. dollars but will be paid in Bitcoin based on the current Coinbase/GDAX exchange rate. Importantly, the transactions are being conducted “on-chain,” which means they join other bitcoin transactions that are waiting to be processed at a relatively slow rate of about seven transactions per second, compared to Visa which can handle 24,000 transactions per second.
These, and other obstacles have prevented bitcoin from catching on as a form of payment. If fact, since the early days of promise that bitcoin would be used to actually buy things, a number influential early supporters including Valve, Stripe and Reddit have all ceased accepting the cryptocurrency.