Insider's Guide to Energy

Episode 33 A founder of a Bitcoin mining company claims crypto mining is good for the grid

August 15, 2021 Chris Sass Season 1 Episode 33
Insider's Guide to Energy
Episode 33 A founder of a Bitcoin mining company claims crypto mining is good for the grid
Show Notes Transcript

Chris interview's Todd Garland founder of Great American Mining.  Todd sees Bitcoin mining as something that is good for the Grid. He suggests all power companies should mine Bitcoin.  He shares his views about the benefits to power producers and society.  This show is likely controversial and a far step from Carbon neutrality and sustainabilty most of our guests bring to the conversation.   

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 | Timestamp | Speaker | Transcript

 | 01:25.75 | chrissass | Welcome to insider's guide to energy I'm your host chris sast and today I'm alone my co-host Johann is off on vacation. It's his last day of holidays traveling back to we expect him back next week but I am super excited about this week's show we are going to talk to a guest that has an absurd premise. Um, his premise is that perhaps bitcoin is not bad that bitcoin actually is going to help the us gri in the future but rather than just make fun of it I'm going to introduce our guest and we'll have a serious conversation about it. Todd garland welcome to the show. So.
| 01:58.12 | Todd | Um, thank you for having me Chris Great to be here.
| 02:04.26 | chrissass | I am poking a little fun at the bitcoin thing just because if anyone that follows me on social media or has followed any of the bitcoin conversations. The Elon musk conversations most the perception is that bitcoin doesn't help energy Now you're on an energy podcast you and I spoke when the idea of this podcast came up and you said hey.
| 02:18.16 | Todd | Are.
| 02:24.32 | chrissass | It's not all bad. But before we go into that conversation. It probably makes sense for you to introduce yourself to the audience to who you are and and what you do.
| 02:31.14 | Todd | Yeah, sure thing. So my name is todd garland I co-founded a company called great american mining and we essentially build mobile data centers that mine bitcoin its strained sources so on oil and gas fields in North dakota. Or Oklahoma or Pennsylvania or a number of other states where we have locations consuming what would otherwise be wasted. Energy.
| 02:55.23 | chrissass | So when you're saying wasted energy help me understand what you mean by the wasted energy.
| 03:01.20 | Todd | Yeah, sure thing. So if you've ever flown in to an airport in North dakota or other states where there is a lot of oil activity. You'll notice these like really large what seem to be like big bic lighters burning into the night sky and so that's what's called flaring. Which I mean I'm on an energy podcast I probably don't need to explain that to everybody but um, essentially we? ah we consume that gas. We combust it in a controlled setting through ah a generator and then we use that to power our bitcoin mining containers.
| 03:35.60 | chrissass | Okay, so you're you're getting power out of something that would otherwise just be burned off and the premise of the conversation I think that I started the show with which you and I talked about before was okay so how does this help.
| 03:41.23 | Todd | Um, exactly.
| 03:52.30 | Todd | Are you.
| 03:54.38 | chrissass | The Us power grid or how does this help with baseload and things like that. Let's let's talk a little bit about that.
| 03:57.89 | Todd | Yeah, 1 hundred percent. So I mean I think in general you know we've had a lot of events over the last twelve to eighteen months that were I think characterized as being rare. So for example in texas when it got really really cold and the the grid kind of essentially just broke down and. People were without power for I mean some people for as long as 6 7 days I believe some people died. Um, ah you know the events in and around new york city where they asked you to turn off your air conditioning because it was too hot I believe something similar happened in California a lot of these events are only. Like they're characterized as being rare. But I don't think that going into the future they're going to continue to be rare I think they're because of choices and decisions people have made um in how they want to consume or what kind of energy Mix. They want to have on their grids. And so you've seen a lot of decommissioning of natural gas plants in texas for example, coal in California um, in Nuclear in New York city um and you know by removing some of these base load generation capabilities from the grid. You expose yourself to these events that are not going to be as rare going forward and so I think the premise of our conversation was well hey you know bitcoin is actually a good thing because it allows these base load. Um, you know generation sources to have something to do that's economical. During those periods where you know it's not twenty degrees in texas or it's not ninety degrees in New York city for a week long
| 05:36.18 | chrissass | So is the premise then that because these assets are hard to spin up that if if they're being used for something they're available on on Command is that kind of what your premises.
| 05:49.47 | Todd | Yeah, exactly so I mean essentially I mean you need to have that dispatchable load ready at any given time and I think you know for most people and again I'm in this this camp like I'm not entirely experienced in energy I'm learning about a lot of this stuff as I go with the bitcoin mining company. Um, but like you know I plug in my iphone to the wall and I just expect it to work but understanding what happens you know to everything that happens from that point that allowed that electricity to get delivered to me when I wanted it is actually really really complicated. Um, and so I mean think of like it's almost like a highwire act that these guys do making sure that everybody has the amount of electricity that they're going to request at any given time and so um, you know 1 way to support some of the I guess. Renewable energy policies that have been put in place which is why we're seeing some of these power generation centers shut down in some of these states. Um, 1 way is that they're going to have to compromise on some element of base load from other sources and those base loads need they need. Need to be working. They need to be doing something. You can't just magically spin up 80 megawatts like that that's a ah long process.
| 07:09.48 | chrissass | So so I guess what? what I think I'm hearing is you know the good intentions of going to renewables and shutting down traditional power plants.
| 07:24.40 | Todd | Is a oh.
| 07:26.64 | chrissass | It's creating risks from what you're saying right? and we've saw it in Texas because I mean that was you know Texas kind of had separated and had their own own incident go on and really couldn't get power from outside the grid because the way things were structured and that was more about political will than probably technical will and so I guess.
| 07:33.41 | Todd | Yeah.
| 07:40.80 | Todd | Um, it's true.
| 07:44.71 | chrissass | What does that mean to these legacy infrastructures because I think the reason they're setting it down is they want less greenhouse gas right? So it's not a question of hey these machines are sitting idle or they're more expensive Perhaps they are.
| 07:49.81 | Todd | Are.
| 07:58.25 | chrissass | So so how does that align with the policies. So if you look what Biden's policies are what the current policy are how how does this align I guess.
| 08:05.50 | Todd | Um, well, um, that's a rabbit hole. We could definitely go very very deep on I mean in general I think ah 1 of the biggest issues. Um, you know in I'm from the us so in the United states but I think even across the world is the idea that or. Just that like people don't actually understand how energy is produced so like conceptually when you think about it. Um, you know a wind farm kind of sounds great. It's like oh well, the wind's blowing. We're going to get power from that kind of it sounds magical. The sun's shining. We're going to get power from that that sounds great. Think there are a lot of tradeoffs that we're making in the process of those policies and decisions getting made that might not actually be as beneficial as we believe them to be because naturally it's like well the sun shining is not polluting anything but you don't think about all the other downstream consequences there. So I think the intentions. Of you know lay people like myself who might not have spent more than ten minutes thinking about energy production and all these different tradeoffs that we're making are are totally neutral, right? Like oh if you can pollut the environment less. Yes, that's a good thing I immediately agree with that. But I think the reality is that a lot of these policies are far more nuanced and some of the tradeoffs. We're making the risk as you said that we'reucing in some of these policies is leading us down ah a path that you know is not going to actually be very productive for us. Um in my opinion. Um, you know. I think there's there's almost like these 2 extreme categories 1 is um, you know produce power. However, the heck you want who cares? what it does to the environment and then there's this other camp which is basically any amount of power production is bad. But. You know from that standpoint and that's I think where a lot of those discussions lead. It's like well you shouldn't be emitting any carbon then it's like all right? Well then just kill yourself and not to get like you know too extreme here but like I do think there is somewhere in the middle there. Um, you know where. Ah, people have to first just understand what the tradeoffs are that we're making and you know developing some of these policies because I think a lot of the tradeoffs we're making are not good at all. So.
| 10:26.36 | chrissass | So ah I get your pragmatic approach. You know we've we've spoken offline about that as well. But I think 1 of the other things you mentioned when we were kind of doing prep to to have a show was that there's technology advantages coming.
| 10:30.44 | Todd | Um, a.
| 10:45.87 | chrissass | From having users like like a bitcoin mining operation Now What? what? I I know I've heard you say is you've got you. You can opportunistically put your your generation for your power where there's supply so you're in these flyover states that if you land you see candles burning.
| 10:48.65 | Todd | Um, sure.
| 11:04.92 | chrissass | Um, but how is that helping innovate like what kind of innovation. Do you see coming from this kind of work other than the fact is that you're you're powering a data center with with you know, a fuel that would have been burned off what what kind of innovation. Are you coming up with.
| 11:19.24 | Todd | Yeah I mean so there's 2 things 1 I think there's economic innovation embedded naturally within bitcoin. So if you think back to like the industrial revolution in the United states cities and towns formed around where there was a lot of hydraulic power were there like rivers that were you know they could use to power their factories or whatever. And so you know that spread out. Um you know civilization throughout the country where those sources of power were I think bitcoin by by having those economic incentives tied to it that you know, kind of force you like we did to go seek out these stranded sources. Allow these other centers of both economic opportunity and innovation to naturally develop. So for example, you know, um, maybe we didn't place much value in there. You know, let's say a stranded energy resource in some I don't know third or fourth world country where you know things aren't great. Now that can compete equally with me, you know, mining using stranded natural gas up in North dakota and so all of a sudden There's this equal economic playing field in that sense that bitcoin will help distribute across the world number 1 and then number 2 um, you know I think. Ah, this idea of just remote compute power is going to be a growing segment in the years to come because that's kind of the primary. Um, you know, operating cost in running a data center is your power consumption. What is your power cost bitcoin minance primary.
| 12:49.61 | chrissass | I mean I mean I've seen bitcoin operations where where they claim because they're you know in Iceland or Northern canada that they can reduce their cooling costs there. There may be closer to some other. Um.
| 12:54.70 | Todd | Doable.
| 12:59.82 | Todd | Are.
| 13:06.74 | chrissass | Power element as well. So so I guess do you see renewables as part of a strategy in the future for for a company like yours is it is it possible that you chase I don't know hydrogen you high air tides wave power I mean are there other things that are more predictable than perhaps.
| 13:24.65 | Todd | Um.
| 13:25.32 | chrissass | Um, in the wind that that would be valid sources for your data centers.
| 13:29.91 | Todd | Um, I mean I think Nuclear. Um, we're not there yet as a company but I think nuclear I think I think a lot of the narrative or around nuclear will change in the years to come I think you're already starting to see that happen right now. Um, what we're focused on primarily however is what we call nine non-rival energy sources. We don't want to be competing with you know, ah grandma who needs to say cool and or stay warm in texas in the wintertime we don't want to be competing with on-grid energy. So that's our kind of mission and vision is finding those sources that aren't going to be competitive and so they're non-rival.
| 14:05.17 | chrissass | And so I think the argument you just placed was that by doing that you create economic value to those communities that would currently not have that. So there's an upside to some rural community that would typically just have a flame and smoke and things burning in their community.
| 14:12.57 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 14:21.64 | Todd | Um.
| 14:23.95 | chrissass | You're able to turn that into some revenue or taxable revenue or something for the community is that what the upside is.
| 14:27.88 | Todd | Um, yeah I think there's 2 2 avenues primarily I mean 1 is you know we're doing a deployment in North dakota this week and so we've got you know guys operating cranes guys hauling the rigs from you know louisiana to North dakota we've got electricians there locally. Um, you know we're going through all the the permitting processes there up at the state and so by virtue of us doing that we're bringing natural economic activity to them. Um, and um, the ah um was the second point I had it escape me. But. Um, yeah I mean we bring oh yes in the the um the second point would be you know I think this is something that states eventually will get involved with directly as part of their state funds or you know something similar to like what they did in Alaska with the oil up there with the alaska permanent fund I think. Within the next they move a little bit slower so to give them 2 years we'll see states who are mining bitcoin directly to their balance sheet.
| 15:29.19 | chrissass | So you think it's a positive and they're going to try to attract data centers in because the the perception right is is you know is that there's communities that had that.
| 15:36.49 | Todd | And.
| 15:43.82 | chrissass | Ban Beta Data centers coming in where they're they're using all the power they put capacity in and someone opens up a data center for mining of crypto, not necessarily just bitcoin because there's plenty of crypto. Um and so it.
| 15:50.46 | Todd | Um, sure. Yeah.
| 15:56.56 | chrissass | Are you are you thinking? That's a misguided or misunderstanding of what the potential is or is it a opportunistic bitcoin operation that just moved into the the wrong kind of environment.
| 16:07.44 | Todd | Yeah, so I mean I would say again, That's another reason why we're focused on what we consider non-ribal Energy sources. Um, you know bitcoin miners who are consuming on the grid and energy from the grid I think will continue to have political issues in various local areas. Um. Because I mean again, like you know if all of a sudden now I'm competing with you for the cost of power like that's not good for the community. Um, and so you know I think and then I think on the state level. Additionally, they will be some of the primary non-rival consumers or they will use that. As their justification for building more base load and so if the state's running it and you know they have a deal with the grid. You know that they're going to turn off when they're required to because they're not going to hurt you know their citizens. So.
| 16:57.72 | chrissass | So what about the sustainability conversation right? So so I get the business angle right? I mean it's It's good for business you you basically are saying look. We're not going to harm you financially or at risk for power.
| 17:04.19 | Todd | That.
| 17:16.72 | chrissass | But as you've said there's there's some pretty big political camps that say hey no more c o 2 admissions and then you've already said in the interview that well this gasket's burned off anyway. So it's it's it's going. You know when when they're bleeding it off or I forget the term but when you're you know when you're burning it off.
| 17:20.92 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 17:35.95 | chrissass | Um, it is creating c o 2 emissions I assume I don't know if it's the same as a generator if it's is you know what? the efficiency of each burn is what what do you say to? that is is there more efficient is there things the industry can do is it Matures is it already a mature industry.
| 17:52.76 | Todd | Yeah, so I mean you know I think it's in general it like if people are already against oil as ah as a you know a necessity in in life in general I'm going to have a hard time convincing them right? like I don't spend my time thinking about how to convince those people to.
| 17:53.10 | chrissass | What do you say to the naysayers.
| 18:11.43 | Todd | Stop hating oil. Um, for anyone who's willing to have an open mind. There's ah, a few things number 1 I'd say um, you know with the us reducing the flares. It's not like we're still combusting that gas. It's still getting burned but we're doing it in a controlled environment so for example, when you see those flares in the air in North dakota when that wind's whipping at like 304050 miles an hour. Not all that methane that's coming out of the ground is getting burned and so that's the primary catch point that we solved there is that is in preventing that methane leak which is like a Hundred times worse for the. Ah, from the environment then just burning the gas itself. Additionally, these are I mean the generators are you know things that we have air permits for from the state or from the the federal government and so it's ah it's a controlled burn is essentially the the argument there if. Um, you know for folks who say well you're just enabling oil companies to drill you know more oil and it's like well I mean for what we're paying them for this gas. Not really, this is more along the lines of like they're going to do it anyway and so why not have us there helping to reduce that methane leak. And then I think that gets more broadly to well you know we're we're entered or we're not dependent. We're a net exporter of oil as of I believe a year or so ago. Um. Remember what the world was like before that and I'm not saying that the world got better in the past year in general because I know like everything's escalated. But um, the idea that we can be sustainable is I think a very important thing you know, politically for our country going forward. So um, you know.
| 19:51.71 | chrissass | But I think there's going to be and I don't want to be controversial I Just going to say what some of the guests are going to say or some of the audience might say is yeah I think that there's certain amount of hydrocarbons that people will take for granted that we still need right? If you look in the Us market.
| 19:55.65 | Todd | Um, no, that's all good.
| 20:07.97 | Todd | Um, yes, um.
| 20:11.60 | chrissass | Um, a lot of reduction of carbon emission came from moving from coal burning plants to gas burning plants and that was the biggest step right? and then then you see initiatives to get evs and and and other things that will will do that. There's There's some initiatives with many ports to have.
| 20:18.48 | Todd | Um, you know.
| 20:30.51 | chrissass | Bunker Fuel scrubbers and you know just chip away at the problem. A lot of different points. But if my supply chain comes by ship I Kind of need supplies I need food I need these things The question others might have is do I need a cryptocurrency and and.
| 20:31.38 | Todd | Um, sure.
| 20:37.73 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 20:46.31 | Todd | Are.
| 20:49.21 | chrissass | You know it's it's not life sustaining right? You know grandma might want heat or might want cooling when it you know when the extreme climate you know says it's you know 1 hundred and 10 degrees outside and grandma you know might not survive the week if it's not cool in her apartment but I could probably live without you know a fifty thousand dollars bitcoin.
| 20:52.17 | Todd | Um, sure yep.
| 21:05.28 | Todd | Um, yeah, yeah, no and I think that's um, you know that gets into another like ah very long, very deep conversation which I'm not trying to avoid. But um I mean you know the us dollar is essentially called the petro dollar right? First of all um, and you know, ah. Um, what's I think fascinating about the bitcoin network number 1 it consumes essentially no more electricity than us household us households use to dry their clothes every year so it's like well hang on a second make is it worth the tradeoff of having to put my clothes. Outside on a line to dry or not drying drying them on rainy days in exchange for having. Um you know a financial network essentially to transact worldwide where I actually know the rules and how everything works I know exactly how much bitcoin they're going to print every year um can you call up the us government and ask them how many dollars they're going to print this year no they don't tell you they just do it so and I think that like you know 1 of the core principles of bitcoin is having a fair system that everybody can understand you know the rules of the road. Um, so is that tradeoff worth it is that the amount of energy we're consuming to power a global financial system worth it of course in my opinion. The answer is yes, it's so it's less about like the price of bitcoin. It's more about the commerce and what it can actually facilitate. And a much cheaper level and with far less energy consumption than for what it has the potential to replace. So for example, think about all the banks in the world I mean those guys are in their office. They have the ah the lights on you know, all those kinds of things if you add up all those things and I'm not saying that's. You know, ah like an even tradeoff overnight with bitcoin but the idea is that you know the tradeoffs which we make in every other aspect of our life right? So for example, you go and buy an electric car sounds great. You're saving the environment if you're making elon rich which is great because then he's going to go to space and bring us to mars and. Life is' gonna be multiplanetary I get it? Um, what are the tradeoffs that were made to get to that point though like there was still a lot of carbon put into the atmosphere. But what you've said and making that purchase is hey I believe the long term tradeoff is of this is going to be worth it to me and so all I ask. Is my plea is that you think about not you but people in general think about would you trade using a dryer in your house for a financial system where you knew exactly what it was going to do because it's programmed in and there's all these incentives in this flywell to keep it the way that it is.
| 23:48.88 | Todd | Those rules the same would you trade those 2 maybe some more maybe some wouldn't.
| 23:51.40 | chrissass | So but yeah, if I was wearing my environmental hat I'd say I certainly could dry my clothes when the wind is blowing or the sun is out and so.
| 23:56.28 | Todd | Please yeah.
| 24:07.31 | chrissass | I could do that now you can make the argument that solar panels take resources to make and there's there's there's a lot of things there. Um, but I don't see you know 3 hundred million plus americans hanging their laundry in their front yard to to have bitcoin I just don't see that but I get the the point you're trying to make so.
| 24:10.21 | Todd | Um, sure.
| 24:21.16 | Todd | Um, yeah, sure. Yeah, sure.
| 24:26.93 | chrissass | Let's change tax a little bit so we're on an energy podcast. My listeners tend to work for energy companies. They do power electric. They do gas all all the things we're talking about So How could a company like yours working conjunction excuse you're basically saying you want to be off Grid. What kind of partnerships and relationships. Do you see with the isos or with the the oil companies or like the gas companies. How can you further each other's cause and and work together.
| 24:57.67 | Todd | Um, yeah, sure thing so a couple ways um number 1 if you're producing power and I think a lot of power producers essentially have like maybe a couple consumers or a couple customers that take the majority of their power. Um, you could throw a third consumer into the Mix. So let's say. For example, you've got a power plant. It's producing a hundred megawatts you know you kind of manage your your load between whatever seventy and ninety megawatts at any given time to provide power to the grid to the. For for homes or whatever. Um you know and you know you're always going to have let's say a delta of about ten Megawatts even at your peak load. You could monetize that with bitcoin like today you could you know you could monetize that you could plug in a bunch of machines and monetize that number 1 um. Number 2 um, you know what? our entire strategy has been. We want to be able to drive a truck up to 1 of our containers and just tow it away to another location for either political risk. Maybe the the feedstock risk you know like. Let's say ah an oil well goes down. We need to move to another. Well so these things are built to move anywhere. So for companies that have like multiple different and many do multiple different sources of generation. You can kind of have this as like a secondary fleet that travels around that consumes power where you have excess generation at various points throughout the year um and um you know the the third thing I would say is you know if you're not open to mining bitcoin directly to your own balance sheet I mean there's like everybody in there in their their mother brother sister and grandmother are out there trying to buy energy right now to mine bitcoin. So. Um there's a lot of very high demand to find cheap electricity and cheap means.
| 26:51.72 | chrissass | So the the cheapest bitcoin story I read this week was this guy that built for about 8 hundred dollars this little bitcoin mining thing and he goes to starbucks and runs it for free. Well starbucks is paying for the energy.
| 26:57.79 | Todd | Um, oh yeah, yeah, yeahp yeah so um, yeah, I've all sort of people traveling around at airbnbs and just plugging in a bitcoin minor. And for a few days you know go to the next 1 so but to each their own.
| 27:17.84 | chrissass | Ah, yeah, that's probably not the model that your your organization's proposing. So so what I hear you say is that the energy companies could use this to stabilize production. How easy is it to have a server.
| 27:29.80 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 27:34.95 | chrissass | Engage and disengage so all of a sudden demand spikes you know and and some of it's probably predictable. It's 5 o'clock 6 o'clock people getting home from the office you can watch the spike when people you know, start turning on the tv turning the air condition all this stuff. Um, but if it's you know, unpredictable spikes in all how how easy is it.
| 27:40.40 | Todd | Sure.
| 27:53.76 | chrissass | For a bitcoin miner to adapt in real time are close enough for the grid to get an advantage.
| 27:57.30 | Todd | Yeah, it's not hard at all, you just need to be working with people who know what they're doing but you can definitely programmatically you know, feed off of whatever data source. They might have to turn you know turn up and down off and on stuff like that. So 1 hundred percent doable a lot of people doing that right now.
| 28:14.57 | chrissass | So it's it's basically spinning up and down and then what about at times where an energy company might not be getting premium times. Is there value in that so you know the middle of the night or some other time do the our bitcoin operators.
| 28:16.70 | Todd | Actually.
| 28:28.77 | Todd | Me.
| 28:33.49 | chrissass | Using that today is is a time to to do mining and not during peak times or how's that work.
| 28:37.39 | Todd | Yeah, so if you're buying on grid. What a lot of miners will do is they'll have incentives to turn off during the peak times so they're on all night and then maybe there's like an hour during each day where they turn off or something like that and a lot of those agreements are structured that way where they're required to shut off for certain periods of time. To help the the producer manage.
| 28:58.26 | chrissass | So you say if you're buying on grid is the industry leaning more to on Grid or offgrid is the are there enough economies of scale or or is this more mom and pops that have to buy in grid because they don't have the resource to build a mobile data center and a generator and all the pieces.
| 29:15.10 | Todd | Well I'm biased but the majority of the large the majority of the largest bitcoin miners are on grid right now and 1 of our core theses is that that's going to transition to off-grid or behind the behind the line essentially over the next five to 10 years and that's the whole concept around Non -rival energy
| 29:35.90 | chrissass | And then when you basically are running your own power supply so you are you running your own power company then basically with just generators I mean how does that.
| 29:40.69 | Todd | Um, I mean yeah I Guess essentially we we do. Um, we don't own any of our own generators right now we partner with a company that does a really good job at that. But essentially yeah, we're bringing. Yeah, we're spinning up. 2 to five Megawatt you know power centers where we need them.
| 30:06.40 | chrissass | So Is there an opportunity for the power producers to supply this or or is it just for excess capacity of things at gas that you're chasing right now like so you know energy traders and energy companies that that I deal with and and talked to or been on the show. Range from everyone making things from you know generation from Tidal Energy to ah you know, burning or herbage to make electricity for lack of a better term I think we've got some some.
| 30:28.37 | Todd | Do.
| 30:34.90 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 30:39.39 | chrissass | Folks come in there. We've talked to solar folks I mean they're they're all over the place. But then again there's there's pretty large industry still in the legacy as well, right? The the renewables if they take five to percent five to ten percent of ah a large industry's need off it just reduces their cost structure quite a bit.
| 30:45.43 | Todd | Oh if.
| 30:54.65 | Todd | Is.
| 30:57.28 | chrissass | So what's what's the opportunity with you guys then for something like that is there an opportunity working with them. Are they incentive to to try to get you back on grid. Are they incentive to help you be off grid and support you.
| 31:06.83 | Todd | Yeah I mean like for us, we're just not even interested in being on-grid in general. Um, we would consume behind the line though. Um, but um, yeah I mean I think we'll see a lot of these companies start mining for themselves once the product that we make becomes more commoditized that. Actual mobile Data Center unit itself and more readily available.
| 31:29.44 | chrissass | So do you sell mobile data centers right now besides having a mining operation is this more of a proof of concept to to productize the data center or are are you seeing people pop in the market to do that that already exists.
| 31:33.13 | Todd | We don't.
| 31:40.75 | Todd | Yeah, yeah, so there there are definitely people who sell the data centers themselves in my opinion. It's too early to be buying from most of those people because they also don't have to operate them once they produce them in like the the operating conditions very dramatically. You know. From location to location. You know we didn't necessarily build our first unit to survive negative forty degrees in North dakota but because we've been through that experience now we have and so I don't think any containers are to the point yet where they really should be sold or third party that it's going to operate them on their own right now we don't sell them at all. Just from sheer like capacity concerns like everything we produce we fill up and in mind ourselves right now. So.
| 32:26.10 | chrissass | So how much impact on the energy consumption does it take from your programming So the software running on them and and how how big a difference can you optimize these through software any any any ability to do that.
| 32:40.45 | Todd | Ah, not a ton I mean the primary optimizations right now are around immersion. So when you're dunking the bitcoin miner in a dialectic fluid so that the heat is. More evenly distributed across the chips. You can get better performance that way the manufacturers right now control the the codebase pretty tightly for the mining machines themselves. So it's it's actually kind of hard to hard to do like you don't and ah with the I would say like the various priorities around mining itself. Number 1 priority is just being live 1 hundred percent of the timer is close to that and so not a lot of miners that are doing things similar what we're doing have gone into the code yet for those kinds of optimizations that there's other advantage solving it.
| 33:25.26 | chrissass | But that that sounds counter to to the ability to handle base load and to spin things up and down.
| 33:34.68 | Todd | Well no 1 I talk about spinning things up and down. That's just basically turning on and off but programmatically.
| 33:43.38 | chrissass | Okay, so when you're saying 100 percent uptime they they just want to you know, highest return on investment on their their machine but I would suspect that if you know you're in Texas and there's a cold spell and in. The the windmills are all frozen and you you need more power that you would have to shut down. You know the the data centers of that area If if that's the model that someone signed up for if they're on grid right.
| 34:12.15 | Todd | I'm sorry I thought you meant optimizing the actual mining code itself that's doing the calculations. Yeah yeah, so um, there are definitely people that are building that software right now where it interacts with.
| 34:15.11 | chrissass | Well I meant minding that optimizing the code for power efficiency. That's what I meant.
| 34:28.98 | Todd | Data sources from the power producer to trade between mining and on-grid consumption back and forth if that's what you meant? Yeah yeah.
| 34:37.90 | chrissass | Yeah, that's Curious. It's just conversation so that didn't have a specific So now. What do you think that some of the other benefits are of doing this So you you started the company you you made ah a social decision or conscious decision to not be on grade there. There's some thought there it. Is it a social decision or is it also an economic decision just because it's more variable when you're on grid than perhaps the the method you've chosen.
| 35:04.17 | Todd | Yeah I mean so in bitcoin mining you want to get your costs of power as low as possible and we've been able to get essentially like sub 3 cent power offg grid and so that that I would say is the primary driver and then as we've you know, kind of seen more things that have happened. Kind of in parallel to develop develop this this thesis around the non-rival energy sources because we I mean you know we see the press every day and bitcoin miners always get get a bad rap and so we you know we believe that' it's a smart decision politically essentially going into the future. To be off-grid and offers the most optionality as well.
| 35:45.91 | chrissass | So do you see a point sometime where you could have floating data centers or somewhere not on the continental us like where we might be advantageous to be somewhere cold and offshore where you could take advantage of other power source.
| 35:53.78 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 35:59.87 | Todd | Yeah, hundred percent and in fact I believe there's a an immersion company based in. Um I want to say germany but I need to it. It was I talked to them like 8 months ago and they hermetically seal the. Immersion unit itself and so I mean obviously that's not engineered to be floating in the ocean. But I don't think it's a ah, very far leap of the imagination if that energy source has the economics to support it. You know like that's essentially why we're solving for keeping these things live and negative forty degrees in North dakota. On 1 end and then on the other end in like 100 and 30 degrees in the same container in the summertime in North dakota. Um, and so you know and we're doing that because we're incentivized to do that because of the costs of power. So if the cost of power were low for in the requirement were to have it float in the ocean. Hundred percent I think people would solve that. Yeah.
| 36:58.73 | chrissass | But if you're looking globally at the cost of power are there places where standards might be more lax than let's say europe or North america where if you weren't morally worried about it and you were truly looking at just.
| 37:02.55 | Todd | E. Yes, yep.
| 37:12.67 | Todd | Um, little.
| 37:15.95 | chrissass | Yeah, the cost per kilowatt or are are there operations that are chasing that right now is that happening today where folks are going hey I can go to this country. They they don't really care if it's coal burning plant and they don't care about the output. So let's just go by cheap power here is that exist today.
| 37:29.29 | Todd | Yeah, it definitely does. Um, so I mean obviously I think a lot of people have heard how they ban mining in china and a lot of that I think around forty percent of that was coal I don't know specifically but this is I think what has been rumored about forty percent of that power generation was coal. Um, the majority of the rest of that was hydro um, but um, you know I think the primary concern that most miners have right now in choosing where to operate is the political risk. So the cost of power in general throughout the world like you're going to see some variance. At the lower end but like you're still probably paying at least 2 to 3 cents even at your cheapest places and then on top of that the most important thing just becomes a political risk. So like you can find cheap power like you know in Kazakhstan there's a lot of mining but now they just announced a tax on. Minors so it's like you know if you've moved your mind from china to kazakhstan to escape the political risk. You just reentered a new universe of political risk. So I think a lot of people are looking to right now. The united states in particular. Primarily because of a lot of our rules around property rights and stuff like that and I would say the broader acceptance for Bitcoin specifically and I separate bitcoin and crypto in this in that conversation because I think there is a there is a difference there and. Um, you know we've got publicly traded companies here in the us that are bitcoin only companies or bitcoin specificific companies who are even more broadly crypto companies. So I think that's what I'm seeing right now is just a huge focus on the us. Um I know el salvador obviously announced that they are except. Treating it as legal tender in their country and are trying to figure out how to recruit miners to start using some of their excess geothermal energy which is kind of amazing in and of itself. So yeah I think it it um power. You can find cheap power throughout the world. Broadly It's just a matter of where you want to expose yourself politically.
| 39:41.19 | chrissass | And then yeah from the political side of the equation there. There was yeah the the climate accord there's there's there's carbon goals that the Eu just increase there's there's cap and trade.
| 39:49.69 | Todd | Um, well.
| 39:58.29 | chrissass | How does that apply to you as an industry are there specific taxes that are proposed right now. Are there things that you're already paying are you are you having to pay a cap and trade you have to be you know, buying carbon credits for what you do or does the energy producer just do that.
| 40:12.19 | Todd | Yeah, we we don't we don't run it into that word' essentially buying gas from oil producers and that's the extent of it and then from there they settle whatever taxes are due with the state or the landowner or or what have you?? Um, you know if I. If I had to justify my business by buying carbon credits I don't think that's a business I would ever get in personally because I just think it's silly, but um, ah I mean seriously like I was that yeah, no, and that.
| 40:42.13 | chrissass | They're gonna start getting some emails here Todd they're gonna get some emails from some people that question some of your your statements.
| 40:50.49 | Todd | That's fine like it's like you know and again not to be hyperbolic but you know if I were to say well I'm not a very moral person but I'm going to buy some morality and I know that's a weird comparison to make I'm not trying to start fights here but like I just don't I don't agree with the the concept in General. Um. But that's just my opinion. Um, but no no yeah
| 41:08.10 | chrissass | But you haven't been exposed to it The the the question wasn't whether good bad or and different about it right? I Just see a lot being in the energy industry a lot of focus around you know, carbon credits and a lot of political will to.
| 41:21.33 | Todd | So.
| 41:27.25 | chrissass | Make the price them high enough that that they actually offset carbon instead of you know, just buying buying something. It's not there and I was just curious from your industry point of view because other industries pay it right? if you were manufacturing steel you would have a ah carbon tax.
| 41:31.42 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 41:42.66 | Todd | A.
| 41:45.30 | chrissass | And and so it's kind of interesting that you know if you're manufacturing virtual money. There's there's no carbon tax I'm not a proponent 1 way or the other I'm just questioning if you've seen it.
| 41:51.60 | Todd | Yeah, no, and um, no no I haven't.
| 41:59.29 | chrissass | That's this is surprising actually but my guess is that if you're buying it from ah um, an oil company. They certainly do know it and perhaps it's where it just gets paid at that end.
| 42:08.79 | Todd | Yeah, yeah to be kind of I don't actually know if they're paying a carbon tax on it or not but you know from my perspective what we're doing is we're actually we're doing good things for the environment I know some people would argue but we're reducing the amount of methane leaked in the atmosphere you. No nobody listening to this podcast could plant enough trees to compare with the amount of methane we offset every year guaranteed yep Yep
| 42:33.63 | chrissass | Right? And there's people that work in hydrocarbons to listen to the Podcast. So. It's not I mean there's there's people that work in Renewables. We have sustainable but there's there's a pretty big industry still in texas and and a lot of people that still do things with gas and you know if you look at. Natural gas and and lpg exports from the us and gas is still big industry in the us and as it is in a handful of other countries that export. So you know I guess just staying on the theme of power. Um, yeah I I guess. Is there any other innovations that you see that could come out from this in the future that that makes this more efficient I mean you just talked about a geothermal supply which I would argue and and then people probably wouldn't be upset about bitcoin at all or cryptocurrency if it was if was a renewable right.
| 43:24.44 | Todd | Um, yeah, well, um, you know I do think we'll just end up trending towards cleaner sources like nuclear in general I think once that conversation changes the cost. There makes a lot of sense at at scale and that's I think we're.
| 43:42.55 | chrissass | But won't that bring you back on Grid I Doubt you'd have your own reactors right? You would then then be but ah so what country are you going to.
| 43:42.97 | Todd | Lot of stuff will go. So. Why do you?? Underestimate cress come On. Um no, um, yeah, no I mean I think at the end of the day oil and gas companies and power producers in general will be the bitcoin miners I Think what I'm doing right now is playing in this period of time. Maybe five 1020 years before they figure that out. But ultimately that's essentially where this will trend The people who produce the power in the world will control the essentially the monetary supply of bitcoin.
| 44:19.70 | chrissass | And and the main reason that we'll get them. There is they have capacity and they can efficiently use it and get the best price because the capacity is going to waste right now is what your premise is price.
| 44:30.63 | Todd | Yeah, they have the most economic incentive to figure this out. They're just not there yet like they they just don't don't get it Yup um, which you know ah bitcoin is probably still even if they got it.
| 44:36.65 | chrissass | Well as you find out the energy industry moves very slow.
| 44:49.20 | Todd | Saw it maybe they still wouldn't do it because it needs to be a little more mature for them to to actually go that far either that or the bitcoin miners will become the energy producers of the world. It's 1 way or the other you know so.
| 44:58.96 | chrissass | Ah, you've you've already started that by putting your own generation out in the field right? So curious. Do you have any idea how much energy it takes to mine 1 bitcoin.
| 45:04.45 | Todd | Trivial. Yeah.
| 45:11.85 | Todd | Yeah, so let's see here hang on. Let me just pull up my little dashboard here I don't know this off the top of my head I should but um, you know, ah approximately so each 1 of our containers right now will mine. Approximately let's just see here 2 and a half bitcoin per month and each of those is powered by 3 2 hundred and 3 3 hundred and fifty kilowatt generators. But that's essentially. They're run at 2 80 so 3 2 hundred or 80 Kilowatt generators and will produce about 2 off bitcoin per month per container
| 45:58.30 | chrissass | Now does that change with Moore's law as your as your containers get more compute right? So every eighteen months theoretically your compute should be doubling give or take does the energy consumption double as well or does it go up lineary. How how does the energy go as compute doubles.
| 46:14.86 | Todd | Yeah, so historically the miners have gotten more efficient. So I think ah in s thirteen back in like 2017 would consume about 3000 2 hundred watts roughly if my memory now excuse me I'm I'm wrong thirteen Tara hash about 1400 watts and right now today like an 88 tera hash machine will consume about 34 hundred watts so the machines themselves are getting more efficient. Um, and you know we're down to I believe like they're blending in some 7 nanometer and five nanometer chips at this point with the miners. So I mean. I am not here to challenge moore's law. But I think there will be this like almost leveling out where the the time period between the the advances gets further strung out. Um, and I think you know even there politically that could be the next. Way that things stagnate. Um, you know like we've had the war on oil for however, many years I think the war on Silicon is essentially what's coming next? So and a lot of that right now is centered in china.
| 47:22.60 | chrissass | So I'm guess you're saying the raw materials the the rare earths coming from china to make Silicon is that what you're saying we're we're we're the war I don't understand your analogy.
| 47:31.60 | Todd | Nudge the the yeah the capability to produce these these chips that provide the compute power around the world and not just for bitcoin mining just chips in general these Silicon chips I think that's kind of the next big bottleneck in general. So.
| 47:45.33 | chrissass | Yeah, well I think we see that with renewables as well. Anyway, right because renewables are so dependent on on rare rare earths as well as Lithium and and and it changes the geopolitics definitively to perhaps not.
| 47:52.31 | Todd | Yeah.
| 48:01.20 | chrissass | Need to control an oil country but control a country that has lithium or control you know somewhere in Africa now as opposed to the middle east to it has definitely changed the world a little bit so but I think it's been a pretty interesting I mean I you know I appreciate you coming on because I know I know it's.
| 48:03.90 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 48:09.25 | Todd | Hundred percent.
| 48:17.82 | Todd | Now.
| 48:18.30 | chrissass | Yeah I'm not trying to attack you I Just tried to ask some of the questions that if if I didn't my audience would wonder why the hell I'm just smiling and agreeing with you with some of the things you said, um, it's It's an interesting premise that you think that power companies. Will actually be going into this business and it sounds like you're you're challenging the leadership because we do have a lot of leadership that listened to our podcast to perhaps they should have exploratory teams looking at this right now because it solves a problem for them.
| 48:43.48 | Todd | Yeah I mean um, if I haven't offended enough people already I'd say if you're not already looking at it. You're late you know I can tell you right now we're talking to people who produce power. They're not there yet like they're not to the point where they're ordering these things and wanting us to run them for them. But they're. They been having these conversations for a year year and a half at this point and so you know I think especially the smaller and more medium size power producers have a really good opportunity to augment their business model essentially not not instead of just being classified as ah, a power producer. You can become a miner and you know, ah, we've publicly traded companies in the United states that are bitcoin mining companies. That's all they do. So I think like while we're early in that you know legistic legitimization curve or whatever but being um, you know a business model that's broadly supported. I still think there's a lot of time for folks to get ahead of the curve.
| 49:40.79 | chrissass | Are there ever a point where there's too many miners I mean you know if suddenly all these corporations start putting huge data centers in let's assume they had access to power and you could get the silicon and get all the the bits and pieces you need. Do the economics and things change suddenly if all of a sudden you you have a doubling or a tripling of capacity to mine.
| 50:02.30 | Todd | Yeah, so but that's 1 of the beautiful things about bitcoin is that that adjustment happens every 2 weeks and so it's programmed into the into the network essentially into the release cycle of bitcoin. So. It's not like when more bitcoin miners come on the network. There's more bitcoin produced. That's not how it works at all. The amount of bitcoin produced or released essentially is the same the schedule stays the same and changes it goes in half every 4 years and this cycle drags out like another hundred forty years I believe and so what happens is that you have more people competing for the same amount of bitcoin being released on the schedule and so you end up. Mining less so when china shut down all of their miners over the course of a few weeks ago of over the course of a few weeks about a month or so ago now we're making more money for having the same amount of hash power because there's less competition in the network and so as new entrants come in the network gets more competitive. But at the same time. Um, you're always forced to be competitive in terms of your your cost of power production. So I know at you know sub 3 cents I can always be turned on but someone else might be paying 8 cents and so maybe the price of bitcoin goes down the difficulty goes up. It's not profitable for them to mine and so they turn off their machines or they operate at a loss and so this those dynamics are you know, working 24 7 and essentially driving people to find those cheapest costs of power.
| 51:33.13 | chrissass | Yeah, but I guess we're where I'm confused and and not keeping up is assume I'm a major energy company and you know I own a large grid and I've got a lot of power plants or even I just own the power plants for for packs. That's more realistic. Um.
| 51:41.19 | Todd | Um, yeah, ah.
| 51:50.85 | chrissass | And and I choose to do this and suddenly there's a number of companies doing this that what I need is that predictability from what your premise was your premise is look I've got five ten percent of variable energy that I need to be able to consume all the time and so.
| 51:59.65 | Todd | Um, yeah.
| 52:08.48 | chrissass | If what you're saying happens I lose some of that predictability because that data center just built to eat up. Power may go away unless I'm always the cheapest.
| 52:17.37 | Todd | Um, yep, so it. Um and this changes right? So it matters kind of what machines you buy how you operate them like if you're able to keep them live 24 7 that's ideal but you know maybe let's say you're only able to keep them on seventy percent of the time. Maybe you don't buy the latest generation machines you buy ones that are from 3 or 4 years ago or something like that. But you know there's also the price discovery going on in Bitcoin you know? Obviously it's been in the headlines it went from I think march thirteenth or fifteenth twenty twenty to today. Um I think it was like you know drop to like 30700 dollars today. It's like 38 thousand dollars. You know? So um, I'm not going going to make price predictions. But I think the incentives are there that keeps this grand experiment going for quite a while.
| 53:10.73 | chrissass | So 1 of the final things I'm thinking. So do your vendors take bitcoin do so the energy companies that you're buying from. Do they accept bitcoin or do you have to pay them in us cost. Yeah cash.
| 53:22.96 | Todd | Um, yeah so I prefer to pay them in Cash. Um, many will ask? Will you pay us in bitcoin and we say well of course if that's what you'd like. But once it gets through corporate. It's always you know we can't accept bitcoin. So I think that's still too early. Um I would love it if these oil and gas companies and and other power producers get bitcoin on their balance sheet though you're seeing other public companies in the us and in europe do it already as part of their treasury strategy. So I think it's just it's still just so early. But I think it would behoove them so here's here's another way to think about it. Um, if I own. Um you know, let's say I own a ah natural gas reserve. So if I take that gas out of the Earth. It's worth whatever someone's willing to pay me for that today. But what if I could transition it from something that's scarce under the ground. Something that's scarce above ground meaning bitcoin. So what if I could take that option to do that today versus doing it. You know 10 years from now would you make that trade I don't know I mean a lot of people are um, you know.
| 54:32.19 | chrissass | So so you're claiming bitcoin is renewable in and of itself whereas we're going to burn the whale up once and it's gone but I can keep using bitcoin for years to come So you're saying it's renewable is what I'm hearing you say.
| 54:40.11 | Todd | There you go right? there exactly and you don't even have to buy carbon credits for it when you hold it so but.
| 54:48.97 | chrissass | Ah wow I think the credibility of my podcast just went down the tubes. Ah well, it's been fun talking about it. I appreciate you letting me beat you up a little bit because that's that's car. Offf I think what we want to do. Um, any final thoughts.
| 55:06.75 | Todd | Um, you know I Guess what I would say you mentioned you have a lot of folks in the power and in you know, energy business that that listen to this? Um I Totally understand that bitcoin is a new and sometimes like nebulous like hard to really. You know, um, grasp all of the different nuance around it even I am not at a point where I fully understand everything about bitcoin and I've been working in this space for like for I guess I've had bitcoin now for I don't know 7 8 years. It's taken me that amount of time just so. Understand it the way I understand it now but I don't even feel like I fully understand it Yet. So I would just say have an open mind. Um I think you know if there are ah you know right now 7 wonders of the world I would consider the innovation around bitcoin as the eighth wonder of the world. Um, again, maybe that sounds hyperbolic but keep an open mind I think there's a lot of lot of momentum not just in like ah oh I'm going to make money. It's it's ah you know it's goingnna be worth a bunch of money kind of thing I think the technology around it is probably 1 of the most fascinating things that has been a maintenance Since. Since I was born and I think it's going to be here for a long time.
| 56:22.52 | chrissass | So can you give like an example what you mean by that either when you say the technology around it. The algos the the concept. What? what do you mean.
| 56:30.69 | Todd | Um, yeah I think it would be very difficult to recreate all of the special circumstances that led to how it came to be so for example, um, you know there was no what's considered like a premin so it wasn't like the people who created it. Got their own allocation. So the distribution while people might not believe it's been a fair distribution I think it is it has been fair because of mining because you have to spend money if you expend energy essentially to mine and so there's a. Cost there. Um the trustless nature of it. So for example and this is why I first got into bitcoin I was selling advertising on the internet and I didn't know the other person that was buying from me and I wanted finality in that transaction without chargeback risk or any sort of like you know a c h or. Bank wire cloudback risk. Um, and um, you know the? Ah, it's just it's it's a really special thing I could send you know and I don't have this but it's been send 10 billion dollars to Japan in ten minutes you know it cost me like a dollar right now like what else can you do that? You know. Would be competitive to that I think there's a lot of additionally a lot of interesting layer. 2 technologies getting built on top of bitcoin right now like for example with the lightning network and it already has capacity greater than you know visa a mastercard in terms of the number of transactions. It can process per second. So. Think there's um, ah, it's still very very early back to your question. You know what would you say is just have an open mind um about kind of the the key innovations around bitcoin and what I believe it will help bring to the rest of the world sounds crazy but you know.
| 58:23.87 | chrissass | Now it doesn't sound crazy what what I don't think we walked away with it. They're talking for you know forty Five fifty minutes was a good strategy for the energy companies right? I think at the highest level the hundred thousand foot. What? what? what you tried to share was.
| 58:25.88 | Todd | There's nothing freer than it. Okay.
| 58:35.73 | Todd | Um, a.
| 58:43.25 | chrissass | If you need predictability this this is a good place to get predictability because you get upside for your predictability is what I what I heard you say um and then what I think I heard you say is you personally would like to see the industry transition to more like you.
| 58:47.37 | Todd | Um, yes, but yeah.
| 59:00.11 | chrissass | Work. It's off- grid and for whatever drivers there are you believe the existing bitcoin miners that are on grid will migrate off grid either because of political demand I don't quite understand that the the reason for the migration but you believe that that transition will take place.
| 59:16.51 | Todd | Correct I Believe so for example in upstate, um washington washington state um, they essentially kicked the bitcoin miners out of that area 3 years ago in New York State there was a bill passed to shut down. I Believe is an old smelting plant to not allow them to mine bitcoin anymore that didn't get through because the workers union right? They brought all these jobs to the area said no no, no, that's crazy. We won't support this. Um I think that so i. I Believe when you're competing with consumers. That's political risk essentially when you're competing with heating your house. That's not good long term.
| 01:00:01.27 | chrissass | Got it and and and I think no matter what you're still going to have the the climate issue with bitcoin until it's mined fully renewables and then you're using resource that could go to the grid to build the renewables unless you do it geographically like you are. Which is where the sources if I if I can go to a source that I wouldn't generally sell to you know Grandma to Heater House. People might not be offended by that So cool.
| 01:00:25.71 | Todd | Um, yeah, yeah, but yeah, and again I I'll um, just a hammer home like you know the scale and scope of the amount of tarawatt hours. Bitcoin consumes is no greater than the the dryers drying the clothes then. All the households in the united states number 1 and and and then number 2 um, you know for people who feel so strongly that having the freest money there ever has been created in in the history of the Earth um is then I would encourage them to you know? ah. Stop going and buying basically anything that you're buying from target walmart any of these things that you buy and put in your house. All of those things are produced primarily with coal energy out of china so change your own consumption habits. Um, you know, ah before having such a closed mind towards you know the freest money that everyone.
| 01:01:21.88 | chrissass | So we probably need to end this podcast so you can get the target go buy some stuff. Ah well awesome. Thank you so much for your time. Um, thanks for being a guest I look forward to hearing how this goes and seeing.
| 01:01:22.27 | Todd | Will be so. Um, likely. Yes.
| 01:01:37.51 | chrissass | You know if if the energy industry does embrace and and and bring the technology in house that'll be kind of cool. Thank you Todd for being with us.
| 01:01:38.51 | Todd | Um, cool. Thank you for having me and thanks for for everybody to everybody for listening.
| 01:01:58.00 | chrissass | Okay, we're done streaming.