Bitcoin grabbed the vast majority of cryptocurrency headlines in 2017.

And when bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, passed the $10,000 mark last year, something seemed to change in the minds of mainstream investors.

Suddenly, bitcoin had arrived and deserved attention.

CNBC began frequently covering crypto markets. The Wall Street Journal offered surprisingly positive coverage. John McAfee made an outrageous “bet” that bitcoin would hit $1 million and promised to do something unspeakable if he was wrong.

Now the mainstream media is just beginning to talk about alternative cryptocurrencies, or altcoins, which are all the cryptocurrencies aside from bitcoin.

As usual, the talking heads are behind the curve. Altcoins had an amazing 2017.

One year ago, the entire altcoin market was worth around $2.5 billion. Today it’s worth $500 billion, according to data from

And while bitcoin once made up more than 90% of the entire crypto market, today it accounts for only 35%.

Stop for a second and think about the size of the gains we’re talking about here. Fortunes have been made in hundreds of different coins.

As you probably already know, I believe it’s only just begun.

But why is it happening now?

Cultural Shift?

I couldn’t be more excited that altcoins are taking off.

But, to be frank, many of us thought cryptocurrencies would emerge as a major asset class sooner than they did.

I owned a handful of different altcoins back in 2013, but they didn’t do much for years.

Then Ethereum happened. Ethereum was the first altcoin to go big. It rose from around $8 at the beginning of 2017 to more than $400 by summer, and it’s at $1,000 as I write.

Ethereum led the way for altcoins, showing everyone else what was possible.

But I suspect there’s more to the rise of crypto than just a few breakouts. There has to be a reason it’s happening now.

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