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HBO’s John Oliver calls Long Blockchain ‘particularly dumb’

Comedian John Oliver made light of a Long

Comedian John Oliver made light of a Long Island company's name change Sunday, March 11, 2018, on HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." Credit: AP / Invision / Brent N. Clarke

A Long Island company was the butt of jokes in a 25-minute cryptocurrency satire Sunday on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Oliver cited news reports that companies that added “blockchain” to their name saw their stock price triple on average in the immediate aftermath.

“One of them was particularly dumb,” he said, in introducing a film clip about Farmingdale-based Long Block chain Corp., which in December changed its name from Long Island Iced Tea Corp.

Oliver joked he planned to change the name of his show to “Last Bit Tonight with BlockChainiver.”

“Triple the ratings!” he said.

Shares of Long Blockchain fell 1.5 percent Monday to close at $2.69. They soared as high as $9.49 immediately after the name change in December. The company, which is seeking to regain compliance with the minimum requirements to continue trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market, said it plans to spin off its iced tea business to shareholders and focus on blockchain applications.

In an email response, Long Blockchain chief executive Shamyl Malik said that since the company’s strategic change in December “we have undertaken a thoughtful and deliberate approach in implementing the shift to block chain.” He said the company is evaluating opportunities in applying block chain technology to financial markets.

Oliver skewered the speculative nature of cryptocurrency investing, citing terms used by adherents like “FOMO,” (fear of missing out, a reason people put money into the currencies), “FUD,” (fear, uncertainty and doubt, which can make investors hesitate), and “HODL” (alternately interpreted as a misspelled version of “hold,” or an acronym for “hold on for dear life”). HODL, in theory, could lead investors to profits in the face of FUD if cryptocurrencies appreciate. The traders’ ultimate goal? A “LAMBO,” or Lamborghini, the luxury Italian sports car.

Bitcoin’s dramatic rise has piqued the interest of some investors. The cryptocurrency’s price went from $1,225 a year ago to nearly $20,000 in mid-December. It was below $9,000 in late Monday trading.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are not controlled by a centralized bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously. The coins are created by users who “mine” them by lending computing power to verify other users’ transactions. They receive coins in exchange. A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger of every transaction in the currency.

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