Grumpy old crypto-hating curmudgeon Warren Buffett is at it again: First he can’t resist improving on an old insult at Bitcoin by squaring it, he then goes on a chat show with fellow ageing billionaires Bill Gates and Charlie Munger to give cryptocurrency another roasting. Oh Warren, will you never learn?
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are worth collectively around $176 billion. Buffett is the CEO and majority shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company that houses around 100 other major companies from around the world. Charlie Munger is Buffett’s lifelong friend and business partner, and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Bill Gates is the CEO and owner of Microsoft, and the world’s richest man.
Buffett is 87, Munger 94, and Gates a relatively youthful 62, although he looks and has the mindset of a much older person, and his mentality – particularly when it comes to Bitcoin – is on a par with Buffett and Munger. This week all three sat together on CNBC to talk business, and the conversation inevitably turned to cryptocurrency. True to type, all three were less than complementary about the latest investment phenomenon which just happens to be taking scores of investors and billions of dollars away from putting money in their companies-.
The Crosby, Stills & Nash Of Bashing Bitcoin
Buffett, Gates & Munger are rapidly becoming a kind of grumpy billionaire version of “Crosby, Stills & Nash”, who instead of harmonizing their early-70s hits in sold-out concerts, sit in TV studios and dish the dirt on cryptocurrency – Bitcoin in particular. Despite the fact that none of the three profess to know anything at all about cryptocurrency or blockchain technology, they continue to dismiss it out of hand and give it a good kicking if possible, and the news media just lap it up.
Of course the irony (which none of these interviewers ever seems to bring up) is that back in the 1990s Warren Buffett thought the internet was a passing fad, and freely admits he thought Google and Amazon would never catch on, and now says as a result he missed out on billions in investment revenue for Berkshire Hathaway. Despite dropping such a business clanger, he clearly has still not learned his lesson, and is set to make the same mistake again.
What’s more, Buffett and Munger’s anti-crypto musings have obviously rubbed off on Bill Gates, who can’t even make the excuse of being almost 100 years old. Speaking to Becky Quick on CNBC’s SquawkBox program, here are some of the illustrious trio’s quotes:
What Warren Said:
Before going into the studio, Buffett was asked if he’d changed his mind on an earlier comment where he’d called Bitcoin “Rat Poison”.
“Probably rat poison squared.”
Aside from that, Buffett left the Bitcoin bashing to his partner.
What Bill Said:
Bill Gates in general deferred to the older men, agreeing with them on everything including Bitcoin:
“I agree completely– it’s one of the crazier speculative things where it’s not as an asset class, you’re not producing anything. And so you shouldn’t expect it to go up. It’s– kind of a pure, greater fool theory type– investment. So, you know, I– agree. I would short it if there was an easy way to do it.”
What Charlie Said:
Charlie Munger’s comments were downright nasty and spiteful, and rightly stole the show:
“To me, it’s just dementia. It’s like somebody else is trading turds and you decide you can’t be left out.”
“I think it’s a scum ball activity. Does that better serve you?”
“Well, Bitcoin is worthless, artificial gold which, if it succeeded… a lot of illicit activity. Now, that is not something I think the world needs. And the fact that it’s clever computer science doesn’t mean that it should be widely used and that respectable people should encourage other people to speculate on it. Bitcoin reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s definition of fox hunting, the pursuit of the uneatable by the unspeakable.”
All Publicity Is Good Publicity
Ironically, later that same day, CNBC interviewed renowned investment guru Brian Kelly, and Kelly had a completely different view of Bitcoin than Buffett, Gates and Munger.
One gets the feeling that the dislike Buffett, Munger and Gates have for cryptocurrency is almost personal. They would clearly love the industry to collapse tomorrow, even if it left millions in financial disarray. What these three still fail to realize despite all of their life experience is that all publicity is good publicity, particularly when it’s the utterings of some of the best known people on the planet. And when older people tell younger people not to do something, what usually is the outcome?
Samsung & Goldman Sachs On Board
It matters not one iota to Warren Buffett that possibly the best run, most tech and market savvy corporation in the world right now – Samsung – are keen to use blockchain technology to help them manage their exports better. Bill Gates could care less if Goldman Sachs – the trillion dollar investment bank – will soon be dealing in Bitcoin Futures.
Despite their insults, nobody involved in the crypto industry – whether it be in sales and marketing or journalistically, dislikes Buffett, Gates & Munger. They are revered businessmen and technology legends, giants in their field, and have earned the right to comment on the latest investment trends and fashions, even if they sound like clueless morons in the process.
And the bottom line is, we are all looking forward to listening to Buffett, Gates & Munger’s “Rat Poison Squared” album!