Brock Pierce’s net worth might be as high as $1 billion, according to Forbes, but he doesn’t dress anything like your average tech billionaire. He eschews both pricey suits and humble hoodies in favor of the Burning Man look, which on the day I meet him means a black vest over a white sleeveless shirt, a pair of spangly cargo shorts, and too many bracelets to count. After greeting me in his suite at Vegas’s Aria hotel—he’s here as a speaker for World Crypto Con—he puts on a black, wide-brimmed hat for a quick photoshoot.
Pierce adheres to an alternate definition of billionaire, which he spells out the day before, at his convention keynote: “someone who positively impacts the lives of billions of people.” Right now he’s focusing on positively impacting Puerto Rico, where he and his friends want to build what’s been described as a “crypto utopia” (though he tells me “it’s not a cryptocurrency thing at all”). Pierce says his goal is to make the island—where the tax breaks are extremely generous—a better place for all in the wake of Hurricane Maria. “We’re going to rebuild Puerto Rico with money that we saved from the IRS in a Robin Hood fashion,” he told Rolling Stone in a recent, 6,000-plus-word feature.