The Founders Fund, a venture capital firm co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel, offloaded a nearly eight-year bet on cryptocurrencies shortly before the market started crashing last year, generating $1.8 billion in returns in the process.
According to a report from the Financial Times, the San Francisco-based fund made its first cryptocurrency investment back in 2014, investing large sums in the flagship cryptocurrency Bitcoin ($BTC) before it was even trading at $1,000 per coin. The report notes about two-thirds of its overall investment were in $BTC.
The fund had reportedly sold the majority of its entire cryptocurrency portfolio by the end of March 2022, before the first large crisis affected the cryptocurrency space last year as the Terra ecosystem collapsed in May.
Thiel himself is a cryptocurrency bull who has said his “biggest mistake” was “getting too late and too little into bitcoin.” Thiel, who is co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, and Founders Fund, was the first outside investor in Facebook, and one of the first well-known investors betting on $BTC.
In April 2022, after the Founders Fund sold most of its cryptocurrency holdings, Thiel was still bullish on the cryptocurrency, saying at a conference in Miami that “we’re at the end of the fiat money regime,” and suggesting $BTC could increase by a factor of 100, even as it was trading at $44,000.
The price of BTC plunged from an all-time high near $70,000 in late 2021 to a $15,000 low last year, after the collapse of several high-profile companies in the space including Celsius Network, BlockFi, Voyager, Three Arrows Capital, and FTX.
Notably, the fund also exited various other positions between 2020 and the end of last year, which allowed it to return roughly $13 billion to investors. These exits include its position in Airbnb and Palantir, the data analytics firm Thiel co-founded.
The fund still has more than $11 billion in assets under management, including $5 billion of capital raised across two funds last year. It has stakes in over 100 companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, defense tech group Anduril, and ride-hailing app Lyft.
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