Billionaire investors try a little crypto

Billionaire investors try a little crypto

Finally, crypto news you can understand.

The free newsletter for people who are into crypto, but not, you know, into crypto.

If you’ve ever brought up crypto at Thanksgiving dinner, you know people either love it or loathe it. It’s the ambrosia salad of the financial dinner table because: a) it’s divisive and b) even investors who hate it are putting a little on their plate.

Warren Buffett—chairperson and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway—infamously warned that crypto was “rat poison” a few years ago. His billionaire vice chairperson sidekick, Charlie Munger, also compared it to a “venereal disease” this February. But four months later, the multinational conglomerate awkwardly dropped it in the group chat that it had invested $1 billion in Nubank, a Brazil-based digital bank that’s launching its own crypto token in early 2023.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called cryptocurrencies “decentralized Ponzi schemes,” tacking on to previous comments that he thinks it’s all “fool’s gold” with “no intrinsic value.” In contrast to his statements, JPMorgan’s taking biotin to grow out its crypto bull horns:

  • JPM hired its first executive director of digital assets regulatory policy last week. It’s none other than former head of policy and regulatory affairs at the now-bankrupt crypto lender Celsius, Aaron Iovine. Which…🧐.
  • The bank has offered crypto investment funds since 2021 and launched its own digital currency, JPM Coin, in 2019.

Other billionaires have also done crypto double takes: Carl Icahn went from calling cryptocurrencies “ridiculous” to teasing a $1.5 billion investment in it last year (no update there). Even Mark Cuban went from telling Forbes he’d “rather have bananas” in late 2019 to calling himself a crypto “evangelist” this year.

But trying it doesn’t mean they like it

There’s been no public comment from Buffett or Munger about changing their personal beliefs on crypto (we’ll be smashing CTRL+F in Buffett’s 2022 Letter to Shareholders for every mention of Nubank come February).

Meanwhile, Dimon’s been up front with the press about maintaining his personal disdain for crypto even as his company edits its logo to have little laser eyes (jk). “I personally think that bitcoin is worthless,” Dimon said at an Institute of International Finance event earlier this month. But then he also said, “Our clients are adults. They disagree. That’s what makes markets. So, if they want to have access to buy yourself [sic] bitcoin, we can’t custody it, but we can give them legitimate, as clean as possible, access.”

Bottom line: Crypto’s too big to ignore, and crypto winter means holiday sales for investors.—JW

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