Peter Thiel Is Long on Bitcoin, a “Deeply Contrarian” Investment

Paypal. Facebook. Linkedin. Yelp. Those are just a few of the companies billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel had an early financial hand in helping bloom. His fiscal judgement is often sought, and Mr. Thiel was keynote guest at The Economic Club of New York’s luncheon hosted by Maria Bartiromo, where he was asked his latest thoughts about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

Peter Thiel Remains Long on Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s price might be bottoming, and the entire mainstream business world is touting its demise, but billioaire investor and contrarian Peter Thiel remains constant: “I would be long on bitcoin,” he stated in an informal question and answer discussion with Maria Bartiromo at the august Economic Club of New York. King Abdullah, III, Mikhail Gorbachev, Herbert C. Hoover, John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill have graced its luncheons, which these days are usually in the Grand Ballroom at The Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue, New York City.

During a sprawling, many topic conversation at about the halfway mark of an hour session, Ms. Bartiromo reminded Mr. Thiel of their prior talk and his views on bitcoin, views widely credited with sending bitcoin’s price rocketing. She emphasized his telling her the world’s most popular cryptocurrency was misunderstood and that it was a “big opportunity.” She wondered if his enthusiasm remains.

“I’m not exactly sure,” Mr. Thiel attempted to clarify, “whether I’d encourage people to run out, right now, and buy these cryptocurrencies. The technology that people like to talk about is the blockchain technology. I am somewhat skeptical about how that translates into good investments.”

He then proceeded to compare the decentralized currency with an age-old store of value. “The one use case of cryptocurrency, of a store of value, may actually have quite a bit of a ways to go. I would be long bitcoin, and neutral-to-skeptical of just about everything else at this point…with a few possible exceptions. The question about something like bitcoin is whether it can become a new store of value. The thing it would replace is something like gold. I’m not talking about a new payment system. It’s too cumbersome to use for payments, for day-to-day transactions. The analogy it’s like bars of gold in a vault that never move. It’s a hedge of sorts against the whole world falling apart or something. There’s about 200 billion dollars worth of bitcoin, there’s 8 trillion dollars worth of gold. Many of the things that make gold attractive, would also apply to bitcoin; and many of the objections people have to bitcoin would also be objections to gold: it’s this weird currency that’s not backed by any government (same thing is true of gold), it’s not clear what the intrinsic value of bitcoin is (same thing is true of gold),” Mr. Thiel explained.

Money Is a Bubble That Never Pops

On the charge bitcoin is a bubble, Mr. Thiel reasoned, “It may well be a bubble. And most bubbles are unstable and end. One of my friends has this line, ‘Money is the bubble that never pops.’ So if [bitcoin] is money, it is bubble-like. The value of money comes from often the sort of social thing. You’d like to have a hundred dollar bill because everybody else would like to have a hundred dollar bill. If everyone decided a hundred dollar bill was worthless, you might not want to have a hundred dollar bill anymore. There is this bubble-like aspect to money, but it is one that can be quite stable. Even if bitcoin is bubble-like that doesn’t necessarily rebut it in this core use case for a store of value.” […]

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