Alexis Ohanian is extremely bullish on cryptocurrency, even using the proceeds from his early Ether investment to found a crypto-focused venture capitalist firm.
$1,642 for just $15,000 during the cryptocurrency’s presale in 2014, a cost of just 30 cents per coin.
Ohanian, who left the social media giant in 2020, told Forbes in a Feb. 21 article that he found the idea of a decentralized store of value to be very attractive partly due to his Armenian heritage, prompting him to take an early gamble on Ethereum.
“Any group of people who have in their consciousness, or in their collective history, some idea of persecution, especially by a state, makes the idea of a store of value that is not controlled by any single state very attractive. And so, in some ways it was hardwired in me then, and made me in a way receptive to the idea of a decentralized currency.”
At current prices, this investment is worth a whopping $82.5 million according to CoinMarketCap, representing an increase of 549,589%.
He continued to explain how his family’s inheritance of heirloom rugs were seized by Turkish soldiers during the Armenian genocide in World War 1, which led to his interest in “unseizable property.”
Due to his aversion to seizable property, Ohanian is a big proponent of self-custody and manages the private keys to some of his most valuable crypto-related investments to ensure they are kept off exchanges that are more vulnerable to the prying arms of governments.
When he heard about Ethereum in a meeting with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, Ohanian claimed he saw the potential for developers to build a wide range of potentially unseizable assets such as nonfungible tokens (NFTs) on top of it.
As a result, he made his initial investment in Ether but noted in the interview that “in hindsight, I didn’t invest nearly as much as I should have.”
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Ohanian founded venture capitalist firm 776 in 2020 using the proceeds from his early investments in Ether and Coinbase, which has invested in 29 crypto-related startups and raised $500 million in Feb. 2022 to finance similar investments.
In line with Ohanian’s views that bear markets present investors with the opportunity to buy assets at discounted prices, the firm has regarded the latest market downturn as the perfect time to make long-term bets on the crypto industry.
The firm currently boasts over $750 million in assets under management.
Ohanian noted that although crypto is extremely volatile, “there are plenty of people who have that generational consciousness of seeing massive inflation,” which makes crypto’s volatility much more palatable for these people.