“If you call out someone’s risks they’re taking, and they’re otherwise healthy, you can be accused of creating a run on the bank or being a troll,” said Michael Saylor, the chief executive of MicroStrategy, a software company that has built up a large Bitcoin reserve. “It’s kind of hard to explain this theoretically before the crash happens. But now it’s happened.”
In 2020, Mr. Saylor announced that MicroStrategy would begin stockpiling Bitcoin because it had “more long-term appreciation potential than holding cash.” At the end of June, the company had 129,699 Bitcoin, bought for just under $4 billion, according to S.E.C. filings. (With Bitcoin’s recent drop in value, that stash is now worth roughly $1 billion less than what MicroStrategy paid for it.)
At the height of the crash, MicroStrategy spent $10 million on 480 Bitcoin, even as the price per coin dipped to about $20,000. The purchase was the smallest that MicroStrategy had made in more than a year. Mr. Saylor said the size of the purchase was not an indication that he lacked confidence in the currency; it was the most the company could afford, he said, given the cash it had available.
“I always wish we could buy more,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”
Mr. Saylor and other maxis have sometimes complained that Bitcoin is poorly represented in Washington, where lawmakers have expressed growing concern about the cryptocurrency’s environmental impact.
Some crypto advocacy work in Washington is funded by companies that offer virtual currencies built on an alternate verification system, which requires less energy to maintain. In April, Chris Larsen, a billionaire who co-founded the cryptocurrency company Ripple, announced that he was contributing $5 million to a marketing campaign calling on Bitcoin to abandon its energy-guzzling mining infrastructure, which proponents insist is vital to keeping the network secure and equitable.
Now, Bitcoin supporters are building their own political apparatus. This year, David Zell, a Bitcoin advocate, started the Bitcoin Policy Institute, a think tank that pushes a pro-Bitcoin agenda in Washington. The institute has argued that concerns over Bitcoin’s energy consumption are overblown.