How 8 billionaires, from Elon Musk to Warren Buffett, feel about bitcoin

Business Insider
Mar 4 · 5 min read

Investing legend Warren Buffett has said that he owns no cryptocurrency and never will, adding that the digital currencies “basically have no value.”

A piggy bank.
A piggy bank.
Some billionaires aren’t quite sold. Photo: AlexSava/Getty Images

By Juliana Kaplan

Bitcoin is once again dominating financial discourse and making headlines as it sees tremendous gains.

The cryptocurrency first went mainstream — and drew both attention and huge gains — in 2017. Just as quickly, it (and other cryptocurrencies) slumped the next year.

But bitcoin has always had an elusive appeal; its creator, known as “Satoshi Nakamoto,” is still a mystery. Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltro to Snoop Dogg hopped on the cryptocurrency train.

And now, with bitcoin’s latest rally of 300% growth in 2020 and some experts forecasting an even more successful 2021, some skeptics are changing their minds.

Millennials are getting on board, and some investors see it is a strong alternative that doesn’t feel the effects of pandemic-induced inflation.

While the cryptocurrency is still volatile, it has many strong ultrawealthy fans. But it has also drawn critics and doubters.

Here’s how 8 billionaires feel about bitcoin.

Elon Musk has expressed mixed feelings.

Elon Musk.
Elon Musk.
Musk has tweeted some contradictory things. Photo: Amy E. Price/Contributor/Getty Images

He recently tweeted a meme that suggested being tempted by bitcoin. Crypotcurrency advocate and entrepreneur Michael Saylor replied and told Musk he should consider converting Tesla’s balance sheet from dollars to bitcoin; Musk then inquired if transactions that size were even possible.

But Musk didn’t seem completely sold. He later tweeted that “Bitcoin is almost as bs as fiat money” and seemed to jokingly endorse cryptocurrency Dogecoin.

In 2019, Musk said that while bitcoin’s structure is “brilliant,” it’s not quite right for Tesla, according to Marketwatch.

The Winklevoss twins have said bitcoin is the “trade of the century.”

Entrepreneurs Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss.
Entrepreneurs Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss.
Entrepreneurs Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss, who became the first bitcoin billionaires in 2017. Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, best known for challenging Mark Zuckberg over the uniqueness of Facebook’s founding while undergraduates at Harvard, were the first bitcoin billionaires in 2017.

In 2018, however, they lost $600 million in bitcoin wealth during the cryptocurrency’s slump.

But the brothers became bitcoin billionaires once again this November, according to Bloomberg, seeing their fortunes grow into the 10-digit club with bitcoin’s gains.

In a recent Real Vision interview, Tyler predicted that bitcoin’s value would increase 30-fold. He also called it the “trade of the century.”

Mark Cuban has said fans of the cryptocurrency act like they’re in a “religion.”

Mark Cuban.
Mark Cuban.
Cuban is skeptical. Photo: Wilfredo Lee/AP

Cuban has been a long-time skeptic of bitcoin. In December 2019, he said that there was “no chance” it could become a reliable currency.

He recently doubled down on that stance in an interview with Forbes.

“It’s a store of value like gold that is more religion than solution to any problem,” he wrote to Forbes. He added: “No matter how much BTC fans want to pretend that it’s a hedge against doomsday scenarios, it is not.”

He’s previously compared bitcoin to bananas — and said he’d rather have a banana.

Mike Novogratz has said that 2020 was a “blessing for the cryptocurrency revolution.”

Mike Novogratz.
Mike Novogratz.
Novogratz is big in the cryptocurrency world. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Novogratz is a bitcoin advocate and tycoon. In November 2020, he told “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams on Twitter that she should buy bitcoin.

In a recent Real Vision interview, he discussed how the pandemic has accelerated what he calls the “cryptocurrency revolution.”

“Five years from now, we are going to see 2020, as horrible as corona was, and lots of people have lost their lives… we are going to look back and in some weird way, this is going to have been a blessing for the cryptocurrency revolution,” he said, per Insider’s Emily Graffeo.

Sam Zell has said that he’s “skeptical.”

Sam Zell.
Sam Zell.
He said it’s a world populated by “chameleons.” Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The real-estate magnate and investor recently weighed in on the cryptocurrency in a Real Vision interview.

“I am very skeptical, frankly, of bitcoin. Ultimately, it may be the answer or one of the answers,” he said, per Insider’s Theron Mohamed. “But right now, it’s a world that’s extraordinarily populated by chameleons and other fast-talking characters. I don’t believe everybody involved in it are the kind of people I’d like to follow.”

In 2018, Carl Icahn said that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “ridiculous.”

Carl Icahn.
Carl Icahn.
Icahn moved his eponymous company to Miami earlier this year. Photo: Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In 2018, the billionaire activist investor told CNBC that he found bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies “ridiculous.”

“I don’t like the cryptocurrencies only because, maybe I don’t understand them,” he said, according to CNBC. He questioned how they were regulated, and said that perhaps he was too old for them.

Added Icahn, “I wouldn’t touch that stuff.”

Warren Buffett is not a fan.

Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett.
Buffett isn’t convinced bitcoin is a good investment. Photo: James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

In February, Buffett had some harsh words for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in a CNBC interview, saying that they “basically have no value.”

“You can’t do anything with it except sell it to somebody else,” he said, per Insider’s Theron Mohamed. “But then that person’s got the problem.”

He also said that he doesn’t own any cryptocurrency and never will, although he did reportedly receive some for as a birthday gift.

For more great stories, visit Insider’s homepage.

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