This is a list of some resources we have found valuable and think you might, too. It’s a selection of our favorites rather than an attempt to include everything. The resources extend from quantitative tools like ours to long-form research and academic papers. This list, like our website, is probably more useful for investors rather than anyone looking for particularly technical resources. We were not paid to include anything on the list – the only organizations we have formal partnerships with are listed on our sponsors page. This list is subjective and not intended to be complete or exhaustive.
Indexes: Bletchley Indexes, Smith + Crown, CRIX, Bitwise Hold 10, MVIS [⇲]
Rankings sites: CryptoCompare, CoinGecko, OnChainFx, CoinCheckup, Nomics, CoinCall [⇲]
Data sources: BitInfoCharts, CoinDance, Blockchain.info, Token Data, Statoshi, Shabang, Bitcoinity, DappRadar [⇲]
Tools and dataviz: Sifrdata, Correlations, MapOfCoins, CryptoMaps, Bitcoin Volatility Index, Crypto Voices, Transactionfee.info, Flipside Crypto, Blockchair, Trivial.co, Cryptocoin.cc [⇲]
Blogs: Willy Woo, Matt Levine, Elaine Ou, Chris Burniske, Preston Byrne, Tuur Demeester, Unhashed, Nick Szabo [⇲]
Research: Ark Invest, Coindesk, Smith + Crown, Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance [⇲]
Selected papers: Wang and Vergne (2017), Naranayan et al (2017), Carter (2017), Garcia et al (2014), Meiklejohn et al (2013), Wheatley et al (2018), McGinn et al (2018), Pagnotta and Buraschi (2018) [⇲]
Books: Digital Gold; Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond; The Bitcoin Standard: Sound Money in a Digital Age [⇲]
Newsletters: Proof of Work, Token Economy, Marty’s Bent, Token Daily [⇲]
We discuss the pros and cons of indexing strategies in this post, now slightly outdated. We still think Bletchley Indexes offer the most thoughtful and consistent approach to index construction. Smith + Crown and a team of academics at CRIX also run indexes; we cover them in the blog post.
Also worth noting is the Bitwise Hold 10 Index. It incorporates some of the innovations that have been publicly discussed over the last few months. True to the name it tracks 10 large caps; but it weights them by 5 year inflation.
We like CryptoCompare for extractable historical data. They have a great API too.
CoinGecko creates very interesting quantitative rankings. They offer a refreshing alternative to the CoinMarketCap school of ranking which is rather uncritical at times, and promotes the misleading “market cap” indicator. CoinGecko grades cryptoassets on developer activity, the strength of community, and the amount of public interest, building a quality indicator which can help investors avoid dead or stagnating projects.
OnChainFx is a great product. OCFX does a few interesting things; it focuses on the impact of monetary policy on valuation, which has been a sorely overlooked topic until now. Most interestingly, it lays out clearly the float and pending supply of a set of major cryptoassets, and extrapolates network value to 2050, assuming no change in unit price. This lets investors very easily measure the impact inflation will have on various cryptoasset networks. Another interesting indicator that holds a lot of promise is the ‘Vladimir club cost;’ or what it would cost to own 1% of 1% of the asset’s eventual supply. Onchainfx integrates some Coinmetrics data – we suggest using them for your rankings. (Full disclosure: OnChainFx is a Coinmetrics sponsor.)
CoinCheckup is another rankings site with a comprehensive set of features. Perhaps their most useful feature is the algorithmic scoring system that they include to rank coins. Their algorithm unlike some others is totally open source and has a freely inspectable methodology. The inputs include team, advisors, brand/buzz, product, coin, social, communication, business, and github. We appreciate transparency in ratings.
Nomics is a simple and transparent rankings and data site. On the back end, they are building an “API as a service” for aggregated cryptoasset data, paired with “yahoo finance for cryptoasset investors” on the front end. We like Nomics’ commitment to simplicity in presentation and their commitment to accessibility and responsiveness. Their contact number is right there on the front page. We like their example and we expect a lot from them.
CoinCall.io is another rankings site with a friendly UI and an easy feel. One way that they’re distinguishing themselves is in steadfastly calling out scams in their rankings. We hope that attitude catches on. [Back to top ↩]
We are inspired by BitInfoCharts; they offer an absolute treasure trove of blockchain data.
CoinDance do valuable work to illuminate the bitcoin ecosystem, especially when it comes to decoding what the miners are up to.
Blockchain.info have a fantastic assortment of data and charts, and we wish this sort of information existed for every cryptocurrency.
For tokens (something we don’t spend very much time on), Tokendata is a clean and minimalistic data source evidencing that most large tokensales have been fairly poor investments thus far.
Statoshi.info is a very thorough service which collects incredibly detailed Bitcoin data from a full node. We wish this level of detail existed for other blockchains.
Shabang.io is a very cool new service that catalogues lightning network nodes and segwit usage.
Bitcoinity has a rather unique and rich set of data outputs, specifically for Bitcoin, and focusing on exchanges.
Tools and visualizations
Sifrdata is a really unique resource. People with a finance or statistics background will really appreciate it. It covers rolling correlations, sharpe ratios, correlation clustering, the distribution of returns, and volatility of major cryptocurrencies, among other things.
If you like mean-variance optimization, and want a dynamic correlation tool with a lot of choice, play around with this excellent correlation matrix, developed by Jonas Verhoelen.
MapOfCoins is a very cool evolutionary graph of a huge number of cryptoassets, and lets you easily determine their history. It’s sadly not being updated at present, but nevertheless still very interesting.
CryptoMaps is a real-time visualization of the market heavily inspired by Finviz. It’s currently somewhat flawed due to odd segmentation decisions, and a lower limit on the size of the rectangles representing small-caps, which results in the inclusion of many ultra small caps that probably don’t merit consideration in the sample. Nevertheless it’s an easy way to picture how the market is faring in real time. You’ll notice that it’s heavily correlated.
The Bitcoin Volatility Index is a nifty site. Since so many finance professionals insist Bitcoin can’t be a store of value since it’s too volatile, it’s nice to have a visualization on hand. The site also does Ethereum and Litecoin.
Cryptovoices is a really interesting site – mainly oriented around a podcast – which also boasts some very thoughtful ratios, graphs, and indicators. We particularly like the network price-to-sales ratio which they run for a variety of public blockchains. This is a very clever ratio which models blockchains a bit like typical rent-extracting assets. Keep an eye on cryptovoices.
Transactionfee.info creates some interesting charts aggregating Bitcoin payments, rather than just transactions (which can bundle many payments). Counting outputs as payments is a far richer picture of Bitcoin development than simply looking at transactions. Due to higher batching rates, the relationship between transactions and outputs has inflected. This is a useful analysis that our data doesn’t account for presently.
Flipside Crypto runs a github index which blends together github data for cryptoasset projects and synthesizes it into a single indicator. If you click through to individual projects, the data is presented in digestible form. (Full disclosure: Flipside is a Coinmetrics sponsor.)
Blockchair is a BTC/BCH blockchain explorer, search engine, analytics engine, visualizer, and a whole lot more. It lets you run detailed queries on the transaction graph, and it’s extremely pretty to boot.
We really like Trivial.co – they offer a wealth of information on Ethereum tokens, including estimates of the number of holders, daily active users, and transactions per user per day.
Cryptocoin.cc is an encyclopedia of cryptocurrencies aiming to create a comprehensive database focusing on their technical features. It is a useful resource for straightforward information on obscure coins. [Back to top ↩]
Blogs we read
Willy Woo doesn’t just write a blog. His indicators, visualizations, and models are incredibly influential. I’d classify almost every post on his page as a must-read. His charts page in particular is very illuminating. To the best of our knowledge, Willy devised the market to transaction value (MTV ratio), which he now calls the network value to transactions ratio (NVT ratio).
Matt Levine doesn’t exclusively cover cryptoassets, but his popular daily column for Bloomberg has become dominated by the topic of late, or as he calls it, “blockchain blockchain blockchain.” Matt is continually entertained by the stories of ICOs, hacks, novel financial products, and market manipulation, and he expresses his generally skeptical view in a fairly good-natured way. The main lesson from his column is that there is nothing new under the sun; only new ways to do old things. Bonus: a Coinmetrics founder was quoted on Levine’s blog at length recently! Tweet us if you find it.
I don’t have much to say about Elaine Ou’s fantastic blog aside from the fact that it’s an absolute gem.
Chris Burniske pushes the envelope on valuation models, which he generously publishes for everyone’s benefit. Chris also popularized the market to transaction value measure which we use here. He is also thoughtful about nomenclature; Chris is probably responsible for the shift to “cryptoasset,” and he’s leading the charge in leaving the misleading “market cap” behind in favor of “network value.”
If you are in the mood for a much more skeptical look at cryptoassets and tokens, Preston Byrne runs a blog which can safely be described as contrarian. Preston is a UK-trained lawyer with a penchant for unraveling some of the more extravagant claims made by founders and promoters. Investors owe it to themselves to consider tail risks and regulatory action, and Preston’s blog is an excellent starting point.
The well-known Bitcoin investor and industry critic Tuur Demeester doesn’t write very often, but when he does, it’s worth reading.
Unhashed is a blog which publishes beginners guides to a variety of major cryptoassets in plain language. They adhere to fairly strict standards of neutrality and attempt to be dispassionate in their analyses.
You may perceive the constituents of this list as too fond of bitcoin or overly skeptical; if any commentators emerge with a thoughtful defense of ICO mania, we will gladly include them. [Back to top ↩]
The investment management firm Ark Invest posts frequently on bitcoin’s investable qualities. They were well ahead of the game, voicing this conviction and taking a public position in the troughs of the 2015 bear market, well before the recent market inflection. Their research can be found here but the essential reading is their white paper: Bitcoin: Ringing the Bell for a New Asset Class. The essential contention is that cryptocurrencies represent a radically new asset class, crucially different from commodities, currencies, and property (which they are commonly compared to) along three dimensions: politico-economic features, correlations of returns, and the nature of return profiles. This is vital reading for those crossing over from the traditional finance world of sharpe ratios and mean variance optimization.
The DCG subsidiary, Coindesk, boasts the most comprehensive and professional industry research setup in the space. Much of it is public but some key reports are paywalled, which isn’t surprising given the rigor and detail. One of the pitfalls of issuing research in such a fast-moving sector is the near-instant obsoletion of your work. Their State of Blockchain reports are rigorous and thorough.
The excellent Smith + Crown win a spot for their contributions to research. They have created a searchable repository of digital currency-related publications which aggregates a huge amount of papers, tagged appropriately. Additionally, they have written a good number of currency profiles, covering even relatively obscure ones in detail.
Lastly, it’s worth giving some attention to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, who do an excellent job of covering cryptoassets and the corporate blockchain space more generally. Their global cryptocurrency benchmarking study is incredibly thorough. They have an ambitious research agenda planned for 2018. [Back to top ↩]
Recent articles that have caught our attention include the BlockSci working paper, created to accompany the open source BlockSci tool for blockchain analysis. This represents a significant improvement in the tools available to the public for answering difficult questions about popular blockchains. They use the tool to demonstrate an attack on Dash’s privacy, to show how multisig transactions hurt confidentiality, and interestingly, to make better estimates about the velocity of major cryptocurrencies.
Another paper we like is Buzz Factor or Innovation Potential: What Explains Cryptocurrencies’ Returns? by Wang and Vergne which unpacks the return drivers of major cryptocurrencies over a yearlong period. They find that, when accounting for various factors, that buzz is negatively associated with weekly returns. Attention should be given to their methodology which quantifies developer activity to try to capture innovation.
While its inclusion is somewhat nepotistic, we believe this paper is also important. It is written by one of Coinmetrics’ creators. The 2017 paper A Cross-Sectional Overview of Cryptoasset Governance and Implications for Investors is a master’s thesis covering governance structures in the industry. It has a useful survey of the top 50 circulating cryptoassets by network value (as of July 29, 2017) with detailed analysis of the governance models on display. The paper is aimed at educating investors about the relative lack of shareholder (tokenholder) rights in the industry. It also discusses a few of the functioning models of cryptoasset governance.
Garcia et al’s 2014 paper The digital traces of bubbles: feedback cycles between socio-economic signals in the Bitcoin economy may be dated by cryptocurrency standards, but it is still a thorough exposition of the relationship between social sentiment and Bitcoin price. They cover an early period in Bitcoin’s history, but the relationships. Rather than naively correlating google trends and bitcoin price like other academics do, Garcia et al notice a feedback loop between social buzz and price. This means that search volumes combine with price rises to drive positive loops which cause reflexive bitcoin behavior – in both directions. A full awareness of these relationships is absolutely vital to unpacking sentiment data.
In our view, A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments Among Men with No Names by Meiklejohn et al (2013) is the canonical paper on serious empirical analysis of the Bitcoin economy. The researchers use a variety of techniques to determine how Bitcoin is actually used over time. This involves a robust and nuanced analysis of UTXOs, heuristic-driven transaction volume estimates, user clustering, and more exotic empirical techniques. They even transacted with 334 Bitcoin services — choosing a variety of exchanges, gambling sites, vendors, wallets, and other merchants to determine their addresses and estimate their impact on transaction volume. A Fistful of Bitcoins is a stunningly useful and informative paper, even 4 years on.
Several papers have attempted to promoted a Metcalfe methodology for valuing Bitcoin, and Wheatley et al’s 2018 paper is the latest in that long tradition. The snappily-named Are Bitcoin Bubbles Predictable? Combining a Generalized Metcalfe’s Law and the LPPLS Model takes a two-pronged approach to diagnosing bubbles in Bitcoin. They build a regression focusing on active addresses as a proxy for “fundamental” value for Bitcoin and compare a fitted price to the actual price; and they combine this with the Log-Periodic power law singularity model, which enjoys some popularity as a bubble warning indicator.
Toward Open Data Blockchain Analytics: A Bitcoin Perspective by McGinn, McIlwraith, and Guo (2018) is probably the most interesting paper we’ve read all year. We love blockchain analytics, so when researchers come out with radically new methodologies we’re all ears. It’s hard to pin down a single contribution of the paper to the field – they innovate on multiple dimensions. Their dwell time metric in particular is a super-granular look at Bitcoin’s historical velocity, and their conclusions would surprise mainstream economists. This paper is a huge advancement to the field of blockchain analytics, and we highly suggest reading it (and playing around with their dynamic visualization).
Equilibrium Valuation of Bitcoin and Decentralized Network Assets by Pagnotta and Buraschi (2018). The paper consists of an idealized model of Bitcoin which is then used to reason about the asset’s valuation. They look at both demand-side characteristics (desire for censorship-resistant and trustless transactions) and production through hashrate on the supply side. They derive a number of interesting and sometimes counter-intuitive conclusions. For readers without a statistics or economics background, the authors wrote up a non-technical explainer of their paper. We are very excited that serious economists were finally able to derive a nonzero valuation for Bitcoin by including common-sense variables like the value that people ascribe to censorship-resistant money. We feel that this marks a significant shift in how Bitcoin is being treated in academia. [Back to top ↩]
Coin Center is a nonprofit think tank based in Washington D.C. which seeks to educate policymakers about cryptocurrencies and advocate for reasonable and fair regulation. They also serve the dual purpose of educating members of the public about the latest regulatory developments. The US is only one among many countries that can regulate digital currencies and tokens, but given that regulators like to follow the leader, what happens in US Congress tends to reverberate worldwide. Coin Center boasts impressive access to Congress, and they produce pithy explainers for journalists and original research to boot. [Back to top ↩]
There are a surprising number of books already published about this novel industry. Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money is a very thorough look at Bitcoin’s history, pre-history, and political underpinnings. It is largely non-technical, but is essential reading for anyone seeking an understanding of why the digital currency is so popular. Everyone I have referred this book to has subsequently bought Bitcoin. It is about a year out of date, which is an eon in the cryptocurrency world, but it is still a very worthwhile read. Where else will you learn about the impact Mark Karpeles’ cat Tibanne had on the history of Bitcoin?
Chris Burniske and coauthor Jack Tatar jumped into the fray with their offering, entitled Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond. This to our knowledge is the first book-length approach of these assets from an investment standpoint. Chris has great credentials in the space and this is a vital read. It is a nicely-paced read which enables investors with any level of expertise gain an understanding of the asset class. The sections on taxonomy and valuation are particularly valuable.
Lastly, Saifedean Ammous is publishing The Bitcoin Standard: Sound Money in a Digital Age in hardback early next year. He made early drafts available to the public, and if the finished product is anything like those, this book will be very influential. It’s a look at the economics of the system and how bitcoin can underpin a new era of sound money. Importantly, is plainly and comprehensibly written with no excessive ornamentation or jargon. Anyone can find value in this book; it’s not just for economists or technologists.
Other books aren’t on this list because I haven’t read them. If you have a burning desire to have them included in this list, feel free to send them our way. [Back to top ↩]
Proof of Work is a very cool newsletter from fund manager Eric Meltzer. It delivers weekly updates about cryptoasset projects directly from the founders and top devs themselves. Turns out there’s a fairly high correlation between the viability of a project and the transparency of the founding team. Funny that!
Token Economy is a weekly newsletter run by Stefano Bernardi and Yannick Roux that does an excellent job of distilling the most important developments in the space. It includes new launches, commentary, links to influential posts, and occasionally some criticism, which is useful.
Marty’s Ƀent is an entertaining daily Bitcoin-oriented newsletter detailing the latest thoughts of, well, Marty. Marty deserves plaudits for being amazingly consistent. He will deliver something thought-provoking to your inbox every day, without fail.
Token Daily is a comprehensive source that aggregates content and facilitates civilized discussion; it brings together reviews of popular services, coin profiles, and ask-me-anything events from industry leaders. Token Daily also offers an entertaining and informative daily newsletter. [Back to top ↩]
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We hope you have found this list useful. If you think something deserves to be on here, get in touch at @coinmetrics. We can’t guarantee we’ll put it on there – this list is mainly for resources which we use and have actively benefited from. This list is actively curated.
Last updated: May 3, 2018.