Meet the Founder Who Pledged 5,057 BTC ($86m) to Charity by@David
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Meet the Founder Who Pledged 5,057 BTC ($86m) to Charity

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David Smooke

Founder & CEO of HackerNoon. Grew up on the east...

About @David
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The Pineapple Fund pledged 5,057 BTC to charity. That’s currently valued at $86 million. So far they’ve supported 9 charities to the tune of 411 bitcoins (~$7m). Those charities are Watsi, The Water Project, BitGive EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Open BSD, Sens Research Foundation, Charity:Water, and Mona.

I caught up with this anonymous donor, who shall be known as “Pine,” to inform the Hacker Noon community how technology — and your gut — can be used to change the world for the better.

Would you like to make an impact on the world with the help of Pineapple Fund’s capital? If you’re thinking of starting a nonprofit project, get in touch with the creator at contact [at]

Pine, how are you evaluating how much the Fund gives to which charities?

I primarily look at three things:

  1. How impactful their work is, especially if they are making an impact on an international scale
  2. Innovation they’re bringing to the table (e.g. Watsi with their peer to peer model)
  3. Efficiency, sustainability, and their existing size. Bigger charities can take a larger amount of funds; I like supporting smaller charities too (and will be!) but I don’t want to overcrowd them.

But to be honest, the biggest factor is my gut. I only fund charities that I trust, and with trust, I believe they are best posed to answer the more micro questions, and do good in this world.

Do you actually give bitcoins to the charities or do you convert it and give them dollars?

The bitcoins are donated directly to the charity, who then converts it to dollars or their national currency. This has the tax advantage of being able to pass the full amount of bitcoins, without capital gains being assessed. It is purely for the charity’s benefit; I am not taking any tax deductions.

This also lets me remain anonymous :)

Since you announced this, what ensuing investment in which charity are you most excited about?

Currently, I’m really excited about MAPS! Many people in the world, me included, unfortunately suffer from mental illness. There are various extremely promising treatments that are being researched, like MDMA for PTSD and ketamine for depression; with better longevity and less side effects than existing pharmaceuticals.

I was prescribed ketamine off-label to treat a lesser known condition. I had immediate, substantial, and long lasting improvements, with zero side effects. In fact, I came up with the idea for the Pineapple Fund during a ketamine IV, as I started re-gaining motivation to make an impact on the world.

The $1 million donation to MAPS will help fund their Stage 3 FDA trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy of PTSD. I hope this ultimately introduces a new and effective treatment option, and leads to a cascade of further research.

I enjoy pineapple grilled on burgers and even on pizza, but my wife doesn’t. How can I show her pineapple under better light?

Pineapple is the only major dietary source of bromelain, an anti-inflammatory agent. Not only is it delicious, but it is also contains nutrients you can’t get anywhere else.

Followup question: what’s the best way to eat a pineapple?

Grab a fresh pineapple and watermelon, and cut into small wedges. Now you have a tropical fruit salad that you can eat with your fingers. The sweet watermelon is a great tastebud follow up to the juicy pineapple!

Over what timeframe are you pledging the entirety of the fund?

The Pineapple Fund is an evolving project, and I’m figuring this out as I go along. I’d like to donate the vast majority of the funds in the next 3 months, however I’m also exploring spin-off projects such as ‘PF Ventures’ for passionate people to start their own charities, and those would come with milestone-based grants.

Now, The Pineapple Fund is bigger than the entire market cap of bitcoin when you got in, and one of the richest 250 bitcoin addresses today. When did you first hear of Bitcoin? What was the aha-i-must-buy-moment?

I heard of bitcoin back when the price was still in the single digits. I was first curious and looked at it with my critical eye; it didn’t take long before I saw the massive potential of decentralized, direct money transfers. It seemed like hearing about the world wide web, or the iPhone.

What percentage of your wealth did you put into Bitcoin?

Very little; I mainly invested time into bitcoin. I mined, traded, and worked for bitcoin. That has been a rollercoaster, and I have so many stories; but that’s for another day :)

I’m not going to say that bitcoin easily lets people with no wealth become a multi-millionaire though; having a modest amount of wealth did help. I didn’t have to sell my bitcoin to pay for things like living expenses, and it helped me hold most of my bitcoins to this day. Other bitcoin early adopters who had less financial cushion wouldn’t be in a situation to hold bitcoin for this long.

What do you do for a living? Or what can you tell us about how you approach work?

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my former boss and mentor during a difficult personal time: “[Pine], it’s not just about [the company], but think about the impact you can have on the world one day.”

If that person is reading this, please know that your own charity aspirations have inspired me :)

Now that money isn’t a consideration, I approach work in the sense of how much impact I can have on changing the world. It’s a slightly different benchmark. I could do something FinTech, exploit some market inefficiencies or build HFT algorithms; but is that really bettering the world?

This is an area I’m still working on. Some days, I wake up with a loss for what to do. I think I’ll come to an answer soon.

Where should Middle America invest right now?

A stock market index fund. It’s boring, but it’s going to give you consistent, market-based returns that will most likely outperform every other investment in the long run. I’m a fan of the Bogleheads investment philosophy.

You can invest in crypto, but everything is extremely overvalued, a crash is incoming, and 95% of ICOs blatantly won’t work and should be prosecuted by the SEC as they’re intentional scams.

Your site slogan is “Because once you have enough money, money doesn’t matter.” How do you now think differently about money?

I still live a fairly modest life. For example, I fly economy, even though business is arguably nicer and I’m not going to feel the impact on my wallet. My frugality is optional now, but I still like being frugal and looking for deals, and debate on buying things I want but don’t need.

Having that has given me incredible privilege in that I can skip a lot of unpleasantness and cut out money anxiety, as well as being able to do things that very few people can. Sure, I don’t have to work, but other than that I’m not going to live life like a multi-millionaire and lavishly spend money on pointless things, because that’s selfish, and that’s not the type of person I want to be.

If only the world had more Pines!

Would you like to make an impact on the world with the help of Pineapple Fund’s capital? If you’re thinking of starting a nonprofit project, get in touch with the creator at contact [at]



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