Bill Gates came out firmly against cryptocurrencies and digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), saying that the entire value behind them was“100% based on greater fool theory”. Gates’ remarks come as digital assets are finding themselves in turmoil as investors retreat in the face of recession fears.
Speaking at a TechCrunch sponsored event in Berkeley, California on Tuesday, the Microsoft co-founder made clear that he was not invested in either cryptocurrency or NFTs. Gates sarcastically commented that “expensive digital images of monkeys” would “improve the world immensely”, but made clear his preference for traditional asset investing.
“To have an asset class that is 100% based on a greater fool theory that somebody is going to pay more for it than I do, and has at its heart this anonymity that you avoid taxation or government rules…I’m not involved in that,” said Gates.
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Gates was never enthusiastic about digital assets and has made this quite clear. Last year, Gates told Bloomberg that he was concerned that regular investors in digital assets like bitcoin were disadvantaged by the high volatility that exists in the market.
“I like investing in things that have valuable output,” Gates explained in a Reddit Q&A session in May. “The value of crypto is just what some other person decides someone else will pay for it.”
Gates’ remarks arrive as cryptocurrencies and NFTs have seen their value sink as demand begins to stall for each.
Over the weekend, nearly $200 billion in cryptocurrencies’ value was obliterated, dragging down their entire market capitalization below $1 trillion. Bitcoin in particular saw its value fall below $22,000 while other cryptocurrencies have flat out collapsed as was the case for the stablecoin Terra in May.
Meanwhile, crypto exchanges and lenders have been left to bear the brunt of these blows. On Tuesday, the crypto exchange Coinbase announced that it would be laying off 1,100 workers in light of the market’s ongoing struggles. Meanwhile, the crypto lender Celsius had to cease all withdrawals after last weekend’s rout.
NFTs have also sharply fallen off in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal reported in May that the daily volume of NFT transactions declined by 88%, a factor that could be chalked up to a lower risk tolerance from investors ahead of another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.