crypto billionaires
Bitcoin,  Cryptocurrencies,  People

Hunting Crypto Whales

Forbes’ latest foray into the world of crypto billionaires doesn’t harpoon many

Forbes published its take on the new crypto-billionaires it believes have been created during Bitcoin’s surging bull market of the past year. Some of the names like Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss should be familiar to most who have spent the past year isolating at home and streaming pretty much every movie available, including 2010’s “The Social Network,” at least twice. 

Perhaps more relevant for Forbes, the Winklevoss twins were early investors in Bitcoin and are co-founders of the New York-based cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. They are each estimated to own or control $1.4 billion in cryptocurrency.

The other new crypto whales, according to Forbes, are Matthew Roszak and Tim Draper. They might be less familiar to those who don’t follow blockchain consulting or venture capital. Roszak is another early investor in bitcoin and cofounder of Bloq, which is a blockchain technology startup. Forbes estimates that his crypto assets amount to $1.2 billion. Draper is a founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, among others. Another fairly early investor in bitcoin, Draper’s crypto assets are estimated to be worth $1.1 billion.  

Then there’s MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, who has put his money where his mouth is, following his firm in pouring his own money into bitcoin. With “just” 17,732 BTC, he’s got less than $700 million in bitcoin. But add in his $1.2 billion stake in bitcoin-rich MicroStrategy, and Forbes puts him over the top. 

Crypto alone

The Richest People in Cryptocurrency was Forbes’ previous attempt to quantify crypto winners back in February 2018, but at that time the list focused on each individual’s total crypto-related wealth, both actual cryptocurrency and their ownership in companies that deal with cryptocurrencies and blockchain. 

By that measure, there are a lot more today, especially as bitcoin had a high of $8,509 on the 2018 article’s publication date, Feb. 6. At press time, BTC is at $38,469—4.5 times higher.

This year Forbes instead aimed to rank those whose crypto holdings were the largest, which is a difficult endeavor. It turns out that most people are not keen to disclose the most intimate details of their financial holdings while others may desire to inflate or deflate the perceived value of their holdings for personal advantage. While citing only four holders of cryptocurrency recently worth more than $1 billion, Forbes writes, “Along the way, some crypto investors have gotten very rich. At least five have recently crossed into the billionaire ranks, possibly quite a few more.” Thus, it’s likely that Forbes may have missed several crypto whales they suspected and probably a couple they didn’t. 

BitInfo’s Bitcoin Rich List contains 25 wallets with more than 25,000 bitcoins—$1 billion at a BTC price of $40,000. And while several are known to be exchange cold wallets, and more than a few of the rest are suspected to be, keep in mind that not every bitcoin whale keeps all of their eggs in one basket. 

Going back to the top of the 2018 Forbes ranking, we see Chris Larsen, the cofounder of Ripple; Joe Lubin, the cofounder of Ethereum and CEO of ConsenSys; Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the CEO of Binance; the Winklevoss twins; Brian Armstrong, the CEO of CoinBase; and Matthew Mellon, the scion of House Mellon. 

It’s more than likely that some if not most of 2018’s top grouping, aside from the Winklevoss twins, have cryptocurrency holdings that are now—or again—worth more than $1 billion, but to our eyes the biggest crypto whale is the person or persons behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, purportedly controlling as many as 1 million BTC. 

You’ll note that Forbes did not bother to put self-proclaimed Satoshi Craig Wright on the list.

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Michael Hillmeyer has primarily been an independent consultant in the financial services, technology and healthcare industries since 2004. Prior to this, Michael was a senior sell-side equity research analyst at Merrill Lynch covering several technology industries. He owns no positions in any cryptocurrency but writes the “Distributed Leisure” column for Modern Consensus.