Buffett used this latest cryptocurrency metaphor during a press meeting ahead of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders’ meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, CNBC reported on May 4.
The CEO — who also serves as chairman of the ~$248 billion revenue multinational holding conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway — is well-known for his scathing stance toward cryptocurrencies, memorably characterizing bitcoin as "probably rat poison squared" during last year’s shareholders’ meeting. In his latest remarks, Buffett claimed:
“It doesn’t do anything. It just sits there. It’s like a seashell or something, and that is not an investment to me.”
To further illustrate his view of the coin as a merely speculative asset, Buffett reportedly stated:
“I’ll tear off a button here. What I’ll have here is a little token...I’ll offer it to you for $1000, and I’ll see if I can get the price up to $2000 by the end of the day...But the button has one use and it’s a very limited use.”
While reserving his ritual opprobrium toward bitcoin, Buffett — who has earned the moniker of the “Oracle of Ohama” for his ostensibly astute investment picks — did offer more positive remarks for blockchain technology. He is reported to have acknowledged its promise, stating that:
“Blockchain...is very big, but it didn’t need bitcoin. J.P. Morgan of course came out with their own cryptocurrency.”
In a further report on Buffett’s latest remarks, Bloomberg cites the business magnate as saying that the speculative fervor around bitcoin reminds him of watching gamblers at Vegas. Buffett reportedly professed that the phenomenon broadly reassures him that he can make a profit in a society where people continue to speculate despite knowing they are likely to lose.
While Buffet’s vice chairman Charlie Munger has echoed the CEO’s opinion with his own asides — dismissing the bitcoin market and purported FOMO that drives it as being akin to trading turds — their self-proclaimed disciple Chamath Palihapitiya has disparaged their hardline stance.
Palihapitiya — the founder and CEO of VC firm Social Capital Palihapitiya — argued in May 2018 that “technology is not in his circle of competence” in reference to Buffett, and that both chairmen are mistaken in their aversion to cryptocurrency innovation.