Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates says he doesn’t own Bitcoins and has a “neutral view” on the cryptocurrency.
“I don’t own bitcoin. I’m not short bitcoin,” Gates said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday. He added transitioning money into a digital format was something that he was also trying to do. “I do think moving money into a more digital form and getting transaction costs down, that’s something the Gates Foundation does in developing countries,” Gates added.
The billionaire also said he doesn’t know how far Bitcoin could go. “Bitcoin can go up and down just based on the mania or whatever the views are and I don’t have a way of predicting how that will progress,” he told CNBC.
Gates’ new opinion somehow is a departure from his previous stance on Bitcoin. In 2018, he said he would like to bet against Bitcoin because it doesn’t have real value. “As an asset class, you’re not producing anything and so you shouldn’t expect it to go up. It’s kind of a pure ‘greater fool theory’ type of investment,” Gates told CNBC in May 2018. At the time, Bitcoin had just lost half of its value, trading at around $9,800 after reaching just below $20,000 in December 2017. “I would short it if there was an easy way to do it,” he added.
Gates had also criticized cryptocurrency on a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session when he said “it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and cryptocurrencies is super risky for those who go long.”
Bitcoin has since recovered. After hitting $3,800 in March 2020, it broke through $20,000 in December 2020 and is currently trading above $50,000. Other billionaires are supportive of Bitcoin, including Elon Musk. His company, Tesla, has invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin. Other companies and institutional investors have also invested in Bitcoin or have put Bitcoin in their reserve treasuries.