famous investor Kevin O’Leary told CNBC on Friday that a fifth of his investments are linked to cryptocurrencies and companies operating in the nascent digital asset industry.
“I have millions of dollars, 20% of my portfolio is now in crypto and blockchain,” O’Leary said in an interview on “Squawk Box”. Blockchains are the distributed digital ledgers on which cryptocurrencies run.
Cryptocurrencies have attracted considerable attention and investment in recent years, including from large institutions and high-profile figures such as hedge fund manager. Paul Tudor Jones and fund manager Bill Miller. many promote bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value, as a long-term store of value. There are also a host of other smaller digital tokens.
At the same time, the burgeoning asset class remains volatile and regulators like the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Gary Gensler have warned about its “highly speculative” nature and the lack of investor protection. The outgoing chairman of the UK financial regulator has also warned about pump and dump schemes in certain digital tokens.
Among the detractors of cryptocurrencies, the billionaire businessman Charlie Mungerlongtime associate of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Vice President, has also been critical of digital currencies and their volatility. In February he said I wish the US had banned them. Buffett isn’t a fan either, calling bitcoin in 2018 “rat poison squared.” others have compared bitcoin to a ponzi scheme.
Asked by CNBC Andrew Ross Sorkin whether some cryptocurrencies won’t even exist in a decade, O’Leary said he has taken that risk factor into account.
“You have to be diversified. I have 32 different positions, including equity FTX itself,” O’Leary said as he revealed that he is a paid spokesperson for the cryptocurrency exchange, founded by 30-year-old billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.
“The point is that you don’t know who is going to win. Is it Ethereal is going to win? Is solarium is going to win? Is it Helium or is it Avalanche? I have them all,” said O’Leary, who co-hosts “Shark Tank” and does other venture capital investing. He is also the founder and chairman of O’Shares ETFs.
O’Leary’s comments on Friday come two days after the president Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the US government to look into the cryptocurrency industry. The administration says the purpose of the order it is both addressing the risks and “harvesting the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology.”
“It wasn’t a total ban, so that’s good news,” O’Leary said. However, he raised concerns about the way Biden’s directive includes an emphasis on the climate risks associated with cryptocurrencies.
The act of mining bitcoins, which in practice means running computers to verify transactions over the blockchain network, requires a lot of energy. As a result, critics have lamented the carbon footprint of bitcoin mining.
O’Leary said he has invested in at least one private bitcoin mining facility. However, he said he sold his positions in publicly traded bitcoin mining companies after Biden’s executive order.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”