Celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary (aka “Mr. Wonderful” on ABC TV series “Shark Tank“), who was also an investor in and spokesperson for insolvent crypto exchange FTX.com, shared his thoughts on crypto.

On 10 August 2021, FTX Trading Ltd. (“FTX.com”) and West Realm Shires Services Inc. (“FTX.US”) owners and operators of FTX.COM and FTX.US respectively (collectively “FTX”), announced a long-term relationship with the Shark Tank star. The press release also mentioned that O’Leary would be “taking an equity stake in both FTX Trading Ltd. & West Realm Shires Services Inc. along with being paid in crypto to serve as an ambassador and spokesperson for FTX.”

Speaking in an interview with CNBC on 12 November 2022, O’Leary claimed that he and other institutional investors would be hesitant to return to the crypto market until better regulations are in place. 

He noted that, as a shareholder in FTX International, his stake is now “a zero.” O’Leary said FTX was not his first bad investment and “probably not the last,” but noted that it would have ramifications for the crypto industry. 

As reported by The Daily Hodl, O’Leary said: 

What’s going to happen now is there won’t be another situation like this for institutional investors ever again. We’re simply not going to put capital to work until this stuff gets regulated. 

The Shark Tank host said he intended to fly to Washington in order to demand better crypto regulation from lawmakers and the SEC. He also claimed that regulatory efforts should be expedited, saying, “I want it now. No more delaying.”

O’Leary pointed to the Stablecoin Transparency Act, proposed by Senator Bill Hagerty, as a piece of legislation that could provide some regulatory clarity. In addition to providing greater utility as a payments system, O’Leary said the Act would send a signal around the globe that “regulators here in the United States are taking crypto on.” 

O’Leary, who has been a vocal institutional investor in the crypto industry, warned that “no one is going to play ball anymore” until regulators provide certain guardrails and assurances going forward. 

On 15 November 2022, O’Leary said during an interview on YouTube series Crypto Banter:

We have to mark-to-market in our operating company every 12 hours… So, we marked-to-market on Monday morning at nine o’clock – zero on our investment in FTX international, zero on our investment in FTX USA, and zero on all assets, which had disappeared from our accounts. So, that was a tough day. That’s a hit...

But we have many, many investments. We have compliance that forces the discipline of diversification both on positions and on institutions. We don’t own all our crypto on FTX – we don’t do that because it’s not compliant with us and our rules on how we operate our business… 

“Yes, I do think that this is the bottom. But here’s what has to finish: we need the rest of the pieces… or the rest of the pine cones to fall from the tree. There are many, many forced liquidations coming in the next 10 days. I would argue the time to reposition, and this is a really interesting conversation I had with our auditors yesterday, we are obviously going to be taking this as a write-off, as a tax loss, there’s no question about that…

We aren’t going to re-establish our positions until 31 days later because this is the first year that the IRS and other tax regulators around the world are treating this asset in the same way they treat stocks. So I think there will be a lot of selling between now and mid-December.