Bill Gates on Bitcoin: 'I Would Short It If There Was an Easy Way to Do It'

Siamak Masnavi
  • Bill Gates, earlier today, said that he would bet against Bitcoin "if there was an easy way to do it."
  • This comment, although coming across as bearish towards cryptocurrencies, is much kinder than when he accused them of "causing deaths" in a Reddit AMA session in February 2014. 
  • Gates was much more enthusiastic, though, about other applications of blockchain technology.

Earlier today, while speak on CNBC's "Squawk Box", Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the world's second richest man, showed that like his friends Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway, who were also present at this interview, he is not a fan of Bitcoin (BTC).

After hearing his friends Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger repeat their attacks on Bitcoin, this is what he had to say about Bitcoin and ICOs:

Bitcoin and ICOs, I agree completely,.. It's one of the crazier speculative things where as an asset class you, you are not producing anything and so you shouldn't expect it to go up... It's kind of a pure 'Greater Fool Theory' type investment... So I agree. I would short it if there was an easy way to do it.

Bill Gates

Earlier in the interview, Charlie Munger had said this about Bitcoin:

Bitcoin is worthless artificial gold, which if succeeded, would sell to hit a lot of illicit activity... Now that is not something I think the world needs. And the fact that it is clever computer science doesn't mean that it should be widely used and that respectable people should encourage other people to speculate on it. Bitcoin reminds me of Oscar Wilde's definition of fox hunting: 'the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable'... I think it's a scumball activity.

Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

When asked by the interviewer if it bothered him that Goldman Sachs -- one of the companies Berkshire Hathaway is invested in -- was setting up a Bitcoin trading desk, this is what Munger had to say:

Well, I don't expect every investment to agree with everything I think... They have a lot of animal spirits in investment banking.

Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

Gates was also asked if he owned any bitcoin. He replied that someone once gave him some for his birthday, but a few years later, he decided to sell them.

However, when it came to Bitcoin's underlying technology, Gates was much more positive:

There is some really good technology in terms of sharing databases, verifying transactions... that is talked about as blockchain. That is a good thing,

Bill Gates

It could be argued that Gates' comments about Bitcoin at this interview had to be negative because it would have been impolite to say anything else given that he was sitting next to Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, the two men who had, a couple of days earlier, attacked Bitcoin at Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholder's meeting. 

However, it could also be argued that he was being more bullish about cryptocurrencies than on 7 February 2018, when he accused them of "causing deaths." On that day, when asked on his sixth Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session about his views on cryptocurrencies, this is what he had to say:

The main feature of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity. I don’t think this is a good thing... The government’s ability to find money laundering and tax evasion... is a good thing. Right now cryptocurrencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.

Bill Gates

 

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