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James Altucher is the man behind the stare.


If you, like me, spend a lot of time Googling cryptocurrencies, you've probably seen that face. You might already know the one I'm talking about: It stares at you from web ads, blankly, with just a hint of a smile, like a bad 80s yearbook photo. The man sports crooked round glasses and a graying mop of curly hair. He is, the ad informs us, a "crypto-genius" who will reveal the "next Bitcoin."

Online, cryptocurrency enthusiasts write that the face in the ubiquitous ad is rather "punchable," while others seem to appreciate the campaign's subtle wackiness. Everybody seems to have an opinion on the ad, which appears everywhere from ad banners to YouTube interstitials. I wondered: Just who the hell is this guy?

As it turns out, the man in the ad is James Altucher. Altucher made his name by failing out of the 90s dot-com boom and going broke (a fact he is proud of), and then becoming, as The New York Times put it in 2016, a "self-help guru." I spoke to Altucher over email and over the phone, and he told me that the ad is promoting his latest venture: An online newsletter focused on cryptocurrency investment advice.

Altucher publishes numerous newsletters containing urgent-sounding financial advice, some going for $4.95 per month, some for $3,000 per year. One newsletter, for microcap stocks, guarantees a 1,000 percent yearly return. "Again, try out my research service for a year… and if you don't see a real chance for at least 1,000% gains… then you will get a second year of my service, at zero cost to you… I don't know how much easier I can make this for you…" the ellipses-heavy signup page states. Another of his newsletters, called "Secret Income," promises "instant" income.

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