How Education – and Envy – Turned a Billionaire Skeptic into a Bitcoin Bull
A little research with a healthy side helping of jealousy has convinced one of Norway’s richest people to bin his bitcoin (BTC) doubts and buy into the BTC trend.
Øystein Stray Spetalen is a high-profile investor and holds board positions on pharmaceuticals, shipping, and sports-related companies – and was linked in the mid-2000s to a possible takeover deal with the footballing behemoth Liverpool FC.
Ever frank and outspoken, Spetalen has not held back on the subject of bitcoin, and as recently as earlier this month was going on vitriolic rants about the token, calling for an EU ban.
Per Finansavisen, on March 18 the billionaire was quoted as stating that bitcoin pay “costs USD 11.60-17.50 in energy just to complete a transaction,” adding that “these energy costs are enormous,” in an interview recorded in the first days of the month.
He claimed that bitcoin “consumes as much energy as all of Norway” and called it “extremely environmentally damaging.” He claimed that the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions needed to be “cut considerably” – and urged the Norwegian authorities and the EU to “ban [BTC] immediately.”
“[Bitcoin] is just nonsense,” he concluded, “I cannot bear to look at it.”
What a difference nine days makes, reported the same media outlet on March 26. In fact, Finansavisen quoted Spetalen as eating those words in a rather spectacular fashion.
Although he did not reveal the size of his investment or the price he paid in the deal, he has now come to own 17% of a domestic crypto exchange named MiraiEx – and now sits on its board.
“When the facts change,” he said, “I change.”
He added that he had met the two MiraiEx founders and “realized that I had been wrong. […] MiraiEx can be bigger than Euronext [the largest stock exchange in Europe].”
However, Spetalen conceded that the green-eyed monster had also played a rather sizeable role in this dramatic volte-face.
A day or so after Spetalen gave his first interview, the Norwegian shipping and energy tycoon Kjell Inge Røkke announced in a letter to shareholders that his Aker Solutions firm was setting up a bitcoin-focused subsidiary – and was backing it to the tune of USD 59m.
“When I read that Kjell Inge Røkke had gone into bitcoin, it became quite obvious to me. I couldn’t bear to see Røkke making money and not me.”
The media outlet also added that Spetalen had made a private BTC buy, though again, there was no indication of how much he had decided to purchase.
The MiraiEx crypto exchange earlier this month raised USD 1.4m in a third-party share allocation, and received a USD 0.5m investment boost in December last year, reported E24.
The platform earlier this month claimed that it had 40,000 registered users and has seen growth of 40% in the first few months of the year.
Elsewhere, leading crypto bull Michael Saylor, the MicroStrategy supremo, who was a BTC skeptic also, has been indulging in a little crypto-themed wordplay on social media with another high-profile and very recent crypto adherent.
He had been running a poll on Twitter, asking people how many bitcoin converts they hoped to make this year. An unexpected response came from Spencer Schiff, himself a recent bitcoin convert. Spencer Schiff is famously the son of Peter Schiff, an arch bitcoin critic and a proponent of gold. Schiff Jr. asked,
“If I convince my dad, will that count as 100 people?”
To which Saylor replied,
“If you convince your dad, it will mark a Paradigm Schiff.”
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