The future of money
The price of Bitcoin has retracted after a two-day strong charge, which, despite several fair attempts, failed to overturn its former resistance. Notwithstanding hints of leaning towards a more bearish momentum, the market is imbued with confidence from institutional investors, such as Grayscale and MicroStrategy. The latter boldly announced a $250 million investment in BTC recently, while the former, amid its persistent BTC purchases, launched a TV commercial that positions Bitcoin as the “future of money”.
“The future of money”—a phrase brimming with hope and credence—captures the zeitgeist of novice and experienced investors alike, who truly believe that Bitcoin is emerging as a “safe haven” asset in turbulent times. And these are turbulent times indeed! Financial educator and “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author, Robert Kiyosaki, even doubled down on his cryptocurrency investments in fear of the eventual breakdown of institutional finance. On top of speculating an imminent collapse in the banking sector, Kiyosaki claims that he is expecting further drops in the stock markets that will be “bigger than March 2020”.
With memories of the 2008 crash still relatively fresh, the looming prospect of a banking collapse is not entirely implausible. Covid-induced commodity shortages, frayed supply chains, and stagnant international trade are clearly taking a toll on the global economy and could mire countries in a prolonged recession.
In dire times, alternative assets such as BTC could prove to be a solid investment opportunity for people looking to generate healthy returns. Among which are celebrities, who after reaching a certain height in their respective fields, tend to look for alternative investment opportunities such as fast food franchises, jewelry, etc.
Kiyosaki’s zeal over Bitcoin’s prospect, though bordering on fear-mongering, is not necessarily bad publicity. The market loves celebrities with an edge, especially those who command immense cultural capital and public respect. During the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) boom, many celebrities, including football megastar Lionel Messi, had lent their names to nascent crypto projects to draw broader public attention.
Apart from superficial celebrity endorsements in exchange for what we can only presume to be millions of dollars in remunerations, there are quite a few celebrities who have instilled confidence in the markets by actively trading or investing in crypto firms. Collectively, these famed crypto backers have contributed in a meaningful manner to building a viable business ecosystem for the crypto industry.
Celebrity crypto backers – just to name a few
Rapper 50 Cent (real name: Curtis Jackson) was one of the early believers in Bitcoin. He was also the first rapper ever to receive Bitcoin as payment for his album “Animal Ambition“ released in 2014. The album was priced at $5.50, equivalent to 0.0088 BTC back then. The bold leap of faith has rewarded him with 700 Bitcoins, which amount to $8 million, based on current exchange rates. Of course, 50 Cent’s successful venture added merely a few droplets into his massive personal net worth, but even he admitted that dabbling with crypto was “not bad for a kid from South Side”.
Other forms of recognition include recognizing crypto as a viable investment. NBA star Spencer Dinwiddie from the Brooklyn Nets rolled out an Ethereum-based investment vehicle for his three-year contract worth $34.4 million. The 26-year-old point guard, who described himself as “a tech guy with a jumper”, disregarded the NBA’s stern warning to ban him from the professional basketball league and pressed on with the novel idea. The tokenized contract, dubbed Dream Fan Shares, was launched this January, and can only be purchased by accredited investors under SEC regulations, owing to their unusual nature and sheer value.
Of course, this is not the first time that the world of sports and the crypto space have collided. Back in 2014, the Sacramento Kings became the first professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin for tickets and merchandise. English Premier League club Newcastle has struck a sponsorship deal with crypto firm StormGain. On top of sports-crypto business collaborations, individual sports stars are looking to crypto investments to generate handsome returns. Serena Williams, tennis icon and avid crypto venture capitalist, has become one of the largest backers of the crypto industry through her investment in Coinbase. Although the detail of her venture is veiled from public scrutiny, it is speculated that she earned around $18 million in endorsements between 2017 and 2018, which implies that her investment in Coinbase could be substantial.
Other celebrity venturists who flew under the radar include rapper Nazir Jones, better known as Nas. Along with his manager Anthony Saleh, Nas founded Queensbridge Ventures Partners, an investment firm that invested in Bitfury Group through Series A investment round, and later in Coinbase and the crypto-friendly trading platform, Robinhood.
It is not surprising that celebrities and crypto are drawn to each other. Celebrities are constantly on the lookout for new investment opportunities, while crypto has proved itself time and again as a type of viable investment vehicle that could potentially generate lucrative returns. In most cases, celebrity crypto investors are not only putting their money on the line, but also their reputations and influences. The extensive fan base behind these public figures could help drive wider interest in crypto and, in turn, propel broader adoption. The crypto industry could really use more celebrity recognition and endorsement, especially from those who are genuinely enthusiastic about crypto, to develop a healthier and more robust ecosystem.