Former Fortress Principal Michael Novogratz left the firm's colossal macro hedge fund almost two years ago, but has been discussing investments in virtual currencies since 2013 when he told a UBS conference…
"Put a little money in Bitcoin…Come back in a few years and it’s going to be worth a lot."
He was of course correct, Bitcoin was trading around $200 at the time and as recently as three weeks ago was worth $5000…
The last time we heard from Novogratz was in June 2017, at the CB Insights Future of Fintech conference in New York, where he told attendees that he has cut holdings (in Bitcoin and Ethereum) after the cryptocurrencies' latest "spectacular run," warning that "Euthereum had likely hit its highs for the year," and "cryptocurrencies were likely the biggest bubble of his lifetime."
However, while this all sounded desperately downbeat, Novogratz was still very "positively constructive" on the space overall. He should be – he has 20% of his net worth invested in the sector… and now, as Bloomberg reports, Mike Novogratz is reinventing himself as the king of bitcoin.
Novogratz has had a very good run. Aside from his epic call in Bitcoin, he has done extremely well in Ethereum, as Bloomberg details…It started with a late-2015 visit to a friend’s startup in Brooklyn.
“I expected to see Joe, a dog and one assistant. Instead I saw 30 dynamic young people crammed in a Bushwick warehouse, coding, talking on the phone, making plans for this revolution,” Novogratz said.
“Macro guys are instinctive. My instinct was, ‘I want to buy a chunk of this company.”
He decided instead to invest in ether, the cryptocurrency token used on the Ethereum network.
Novogratz bought about $500,000 at less than a dollar per ether and left on a vacation to India. By the time he returned a few weeks later, the price had risen more than fivefold. He bought more.
Over the course of 2016 and into 2017, as ether surged to almost $400 and bitcoin topped $2,500, Novogratz sold enough to make about $250 million, the biggest haul of any single trade in his career.
He said he paid tax on the profits, bought a Gulfstream G550 jet and donated an equal amount to a philanthropic project for criminal justice reform.
Novogratz was hooked, and according to a person familiar with his plans, Bloomberg reports that the outspoken macro manager is starting a $500 million hedge fund to invest in cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings and related companies. Novogratz will put up $150 million of his own money and plans to raise $350 million more by January, mainly from family offices, wealthy individuals and fellow hedge fund managers.
“This is going to be the largest bubble of our lifetimes,” Novogratz said.
“Prices are going to get way ahead of where they should be. You can make a whole lot of money on the way up, and we plan on it.”
At that size, the Galaxy Digital Assets Fund would be the biggest of its kind and signal a growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether as legitimate investments.
Where others see volatility and liability, Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs partner, smells opportunity.
“In a lot of ways, this is a market like any other market,” Novogratz said.
“You see the psychology of fear and greed in the charts the same way you’d see it in charts of the Indonesian rupiah or dollar-yen or Treasuries. They’re exaggerated because of less liquidity and because you can’t get short.”
“I sold at $5,000 or $4,980,” he said.
“Then three weeks later I’m trying to buy it in the low $3,000s. If you’re good at that and you’re a trading junkie, it’s a lot of fun.”
And bubble or not, "Novo" as his friends call him, concluded eloquently on the extreme nature of cryptocurrencies' potential…
“Remember, bubbles happen around things that fundamentally change the way we live,” he said.
“The railroad bubble. Railroads really fundamentally changed the way we lived. The internet bubble changed the way we live. When I look forward five, 10 years, the possibilities really get your animal spirits going.”