Founders Fund, the venture capital firm co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel, closed almost all of its eight-year bet on cryptocurrencies shortly before the market began to crash last year, generating about $1.8bn in returns.
The San Francisco-based fund made its first investment in bitcoin in early 2014 and went on to invest large sums in crypto. About two-thirds of its overall investment was used to buy bitcoin, said people close to the fund.
Founders Fund sold out of the vast majority of its entire cryptocurrency portfolio by the end of March 2022 — before the digital assets market became swept up in a crisis in May last year, said one of the people close to the fund.
The fund currently has no significant exposure to cryptocurrencies, the people said. The winding down of its crypto bet has not previously been reported. Founders Fund declined to comment.
Thiel, a big backer of Republican candidates and a supporter of former US president Donald Trump, was one of the earliest mainstream investors to buy large sums of bitcoin and has subsequently been loudly bullish on the digital currency.
In April 2022, about the same time that Founders Fund sold out of most of its cryptocurrency holdings, Thiel said he was optimistic about the future of bitcoin. He told a cryptocurrency conference in Miami that “we’re at the end of the fiat money regime” and suggested its price — which was then trading at about $44,000 — could increase by a factor of 100.
Thiel said JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and BlackRock boss Larry Fink “need to be allocating some of their money to bitcoin”, adding: “We need to push back on them.”
The price of bitcoin, which was first launched in 2009, surged dramatically from roughly $750 in 2014 to an all-time high of more than $65,000 by November 2021. However, its price has been volatile in recent years, with several major collapses in value, including a drop to about $15,500 in November last year, a two-year low.