Bitcoin is the largest blockchain-based digital asset, with a market capitalization of $173.5 billion as of June 2020. It is considered to be the most successful cryptocurrency ever. The following are among the leading early investors in bitcoin and blockchain assets, compiled from media reports.
- Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are believed to be the first bitcoin billionaires, reportedly holding about 100,000 coins.
- Dan Morehead launched the first cryptocurrency fund in the U.S. when bitcoin was trading for $65 each.
- Michael Novogratz is the famously bullish bitcoin investor who predicted a $40,000 price a month before it began a year-long collapse.
- Barry Silbert is the founder of Digital Currency Group, which has made more than 125 blockchain-related investments.
Barry Silbert is the founder and chief executive officer of Digital Currency Group. The company aims to accelerate development of the global financial system by building and supporting bitcoin and blockchain companies. Digital Currency Group has invested in more than 125 blockchain-related companies. In 2016, it acquired news provider CoinDesk, which runs industry conferences.
Other portfolio companies include Genesis, a provider of liquidity for buyers and sellers of cryptocurrency in the over-the-counter market. Digital Currency Group also owns Grayscale Investments, which manages the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), an investment vehicle that holds bitcoin and gives investors exposure to the asset's price movements.
Dan Morehead is the founder, CEO and co-chief investment officer of Pantera Capital. The company is the first investment firm to focus on bitcoin, and is one of the largest institutional holders of cryptocurrency. Pantera launched the first cryptocurrency fund in the U.S. when bitcoin traded for $65 each.
Pantera has made 38 portfolio investments. Notable investments include European exchange Bitstamp; Brave, an open-source web browser and advertising ecosystem; Shapeshift, a decentralized exchange for trading coins; and Polychain Capital, a venture fund that is raising $200 million. In December 2017, at the height of the cryptocurrency boom, it was reported that Pantera Capital's bitcoin fund had earned a 24,000% return for investors.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are investors in a number of cryptocurrencies and blockchain-related businesses, most notably the Gemini exchange. They are believed to be the first to reach billionaire status by investing in bitcoin, reportedly holding about 100,000 coins worth $950 million as of June 2020. (See more: Winklevoss Twins Are Bitcoin's First Billionaires.)
The Winklevoss twins launched the Gemini exchange in 2015. The company allows investors to buy, sell and store digital assets. Gemini launched bitcoin futures on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) in December 2017. In July 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) denied their application to establish a bitcoin ETF. In addition to bitcoin, the brothers are heavily invested in ethereum, although they have not revealed their exact holdings. (See more: How The Winklevoss Twins Store Their Crypto Fortune.)
Michael Novogratz, a former hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group and partner at Goldman Sachs, is a frequent commentator on bitcoin price action. He is the founder, CEO and chair of Galaxy Digital Holdings, an investment fund that trades, manages and advises on blockchain-related assets.
In September 2017, in the midst of what was then a bull market for cryptocurrency, Novogratz estimated that about 20% of his net worth was comprised of digital assets. He said he had made $250 million investing in bitcoin and ethereum and bought a private jet with the proceeds.
In 2018, Novogratz founded Galaxy, contributing $302 million in digital and other assets. Other investors contributed C$302 million. In the March 2020 quarter, Galaxy reported $365.2 million in assets, down from $402.8 million held at the end of 2019. Galaxy held 13,338 bitcoin valued at $122.5 million.
In November 2017, Novogratz famously predicted that Bitcoin could reach $40,000 by the end of 2018 —it peaked at $19,650 the following month and subsequently crashed to the $3,000 range over the following year. In February 2020, Novogratz said he expected Bitcoin could set a new all-time high in 2020. (See also: Bitcoin's Price History)
Digital Asset Holdings
Digital Asset Holdings is a financial technology company and developer of programming languages for the finance industry. Its main product is the Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML), which is designed for modelling smart contracts. In December 2019, the company raised $35 million in a Series C funding rounding, bringing its total fundraising to $150 million. Digital Asset Holdings is led by co-founder and CEO Yuval Rooz. Former CEO Blythe Masters stepped down in December 2018, though she remains as a board member, strategic advisor and shareholder.
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns 0.001 bitcoin.