In Silicon Valley, Tim Draper is venture capital royalty. A third-generation investor, Draper was an early backer of some of the most pivotal technology to come out of California, from Hotmail to Skype. In recent years, his focus has been on Bitcoin and the broader ethos of decentralization, famously paying $19 million for 30,000 Bitcoin in 2014 that had been seized in the U.S. government takedown of the dark web marketplace Silk Road.
While some of his bets have not paid off—including an investment in Theranos and repeated predictions that Bitcoin would reach $250,000—he is continuing to throw his chips in with the pioneer cryptocurrency. In an interview with Fortune, Draper said he expects Bitcoin to soar in value amid economic uncertainty in the U.S.
“If the bear gets that angry to where the banks start falling apart, that actually means that Bitcoin will have a bull market,” he told Fortune. “It’ll be a raging bull in the middle of the bear.”
Bitcoin is currently sitting at just under $29,000. It’s up nearly 75% since the beginning of 2023 amid the failures of major U.S. banks Signature, Silicon Valley Bank, and First Republic.
Draper’s support of Bitcoin does not extend to the entire crypto ecosystem. While he backed pioneering projects like the blockchain Tezos, he said he’s wary of companies that are too centralized. Draper said he twice turned down an investment opportunity in Sam Bankman-Fried’s now-failed exchange FTX, arguing that there was no utility for its proprietary token, FTT, except for speculation.
As FTX rose in popularity in 2021 and 2022, Draper said he thought he had missed something, but was vindicated in November when the company collapsed in spectacular fashion.
“I just thought it was a race to the bottom,” Draper said about CeFi, or centralized finance, companies like FTX.
His concern now is with crypto regulation, as lawmakers debate legislation to establish guardrails for the industry and agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission target firms with enforcement actions. Draper said that when he speaks with startups in the space, they ask him about regulation, which had never before been the case.
“If they’re regulating by enforcement, they’re just slapping people down and fining them and suing them,” he told Fortune. “I don’t want to waste years of my life in court and trying to avoid some problem.”
Draper, who has advocated for breaking up California into six states, said that the only solution is to have a new political party in charge.
“This is as controlling as the U.S. government has ever been,” he said. “They’re ruining business, they’re killing the golden goose, and Silicon Valley is breaking up because of it.”
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