The latest comments about altcoins from Michael Saylor, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at business intelligence software company MicroStrategy Inc. (Nasdaq: MSTR), makes U.S. SEC Chair Gary Gensler look quite crypto-friendly by comparison.
This is because although Gesler has said on several occasions that Bitcoin is definitely a commodity while most altcoins are unregistered securities, Saylor seems to believe that ALL altcoins, especially Ethereum ($ETH), are unregistered securities.
It is worth remembering that on 11 August 2020, MicroStrategy announced via a press release that it had “purchased 21,454 bitcoins at an aggregate purchase price of $250 million” to use as a “primary treasury reserve asset.”
Saylor said at the time:
“Our decision to invest in Bitcoin at this time was driven in part by a confluence of macro factors affecting the economic and business landscape that we believe is creating long-term risks for our corporate treasury program ― risks that should be addressed proactively.“
Since then MicroStrategy has continued to accumulate Bitcoin and its former CEO has become one of Bitcoin’s most vocal advocates. MicroStrategy’s latest $BTC purchase, which Saylor tweeted about on 20 September 2022, means that the firm is now HODLing around 130,000 bitcoins, which were “acquired for ~$3.98 billion at an average price of ~$30,639 per bitcoin.”
On 6 December 2022, while being interviewed by entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David (“PBD”) for episode 212 of the PBD Podcast, Saylor was asked what he thinks about Ripple (or rather XRP).
Saylor, who seems confused by the difference between Ripple, which is a FinTech firm specializing in cross-border payment solutions, and XRP, which is a digital asset that is the native token of the XRP Ledger (XRPL), replied:
“Ripple is an unregistered security… There’s a company. The company owns a bunch of it. They sell it to the general public, but they never took the company public. There’s no disclosures, right? So the SEC’s position is ‘you’re selling an unregistered security’. It’s a crypto token, right?
Just like Ethereum is an unregistered security. It’s controlled by a few people in the Ethereum Foundation and Consensys… Just like FTT. Just like Solana. They’re all unregistered securities…”
PBD then asked Saylor if all altcoins are unregistered securities, why is the SEC going after $XRP and not $ETH.
“I think the best thing for the world would be with if the SEC pretty much shut down all of it. It’s all unethical, right? I mean the Bitcoin position would be Bitcoin is an ethical commodity. All of these other altcoins are unregistered securities. They’re all just equity tokens issued by a company in order to get around going public and they’re committing securities fraud, Ethereum included, of course. Especially Ethereum.
“You know, Ethereum’s got 20 billion dollars of $ETH token locked up in the staking contract right now and there’s a couple of people that may or may not give it back to you ever. Now, isn’t that the definition of an investment contract? If a bank took 20 billion dollars of your assets, froze the the window, and said, ‘you can’t have your money back ever, it may be in the year 2024, we’re not sure, we’re just going to keep it, we may actually give you interest on it, we may take it all, we may slash it.
“That’s the definition of a security, right? It’s an investment of money in a common enterprise, relying upon the efforts of others and expectation of profit. The whole point is if you want to crypto asset to be a commodity, you can’t rely upon four, engineers, a company, a CEO. If a person can make a decision, It’s not a commodity.“
This was the reaction of American lawyer John Deaton, the owner of the Deaton Law Firm (which is based in East Providence, Rhode Island):
On 11 November 2022, Saylor had this to say — during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” — about what the ripple effects of the collapse of FTX would be:
“I think this week highlights the virtues of Bitcoin as much as it exposes the fragility of the crypto ecosystem. Bitcoin’s a commodity you can self custody without an issuer. The vast majority of all the crypto tokens out there are unregistered securities trading on unregulated exchanges, and they’re fairly centralised.
“And so what could go wrong? Well, we saw what could go wrong if a centralised token trading on unregistered exchange blows up this week. I think that Bitcoiners have been predicting this for a long time. Speaking for all the bitcoiners, we feel like we’re trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with crypto, and we want out…
“I think the industry needs to grow up, and the regulators are coming into this space. And what the world wants is digital assets and digital commodities and digital securities, but there’s no way to register a digital security. There’s no clear guideline, a roadmap for a designating a digital commodity. The world wants a trillion dollars of digital currency in the form of the USD stablecoin…
“And so I think that the regulatory intervention of late has been all negative, like enforcement, but the marketplace is waiting for the regulators to say ‘this is how you register a digital currency’, this is how you register a digital security or a digital commodity’…
“And instead of saying all the crypto exchanges should register, we need to get the crypto exchanges registered because the future of the industry is registered digital assets trading on regulated exchanges where everyone has the investor protections they need and the investors understand the difference between Bitcoin and a stablecoin and a security token…
“I think it’s definitely going to the strength in the hand of the regulators. It’s going to accelerate their intervention… And there’s regressive regulation, which is to say ‘you can’t really do anything’, and that’ll contract the industry… but there’s a progressive regulation, which says ‘this is a path to register a digital security, a digital currency, a digital token, and your digital exchange’.
“If there is progressive regulation, then I think you won’t see 20,000 tokens, you’ll see dozens but there’ll be properly registered tokens. The industry is going to grow much more rapidly. And ultimately, we’re moving from the entrepreneurial stage where this was a wild west offshore where anything goes to an institutional digital asset stage… and we’re all just going to grow up and the world is going to benefit from that.“
And on 22 November 2022, Saylor responded to an op-ed piece (by By Joshua Hendrickson, associate professor of economics at the University of Mississippi) published on 21 November 2022 on the NBC News website about how Bitcoin could be getting a bad reputation as a result of the shenanigans of bad actors in the crypto industry. That article stated:
“What this history reveals is that what is commonly known as crypto is clearly distinct from both the cypherpunk vision that motivated the creation of Bitcoin and from the developments in and around Bitcoin itself over the last decade. Whereas Bitcoin was created to be a censorship-resistant, trustless digital form of money, crypto has become a space dominated by get-rich-quick-schemes. Whatever this crypto industry is, most Bitcoin and Bitcoiners want no part of it.“
This promoted the former MicroStrategy CEO to send the following tweet to his 2.8 million followers: