After weeks of positive coverage of Bitcoin and other digital assets, CNBC decided to flip the tables.

On Tuesday, CNBC’s “Squawk Box” segment, which has covered cryptocurrencies nearly every other day for the past two months, called on Kevin O’Leary.

O’Leary is, of course, the popular host on two North American entrepreneurship reality television shows, “Shark Tank” and “Dragon’s Den”, and a well-known investor.

While O’Leary has adopted the nickname “Mr. Wonderful” over his years in the spotlight, he wasn’t all too wonderful towards CNBC’s other guest, Bitcoin ‘permabull’ Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano. In fact, Mr. Wonderful shamed Pomp for his buoyancy.

Squark Box

Bitcoin Lover Lambasted

Anthony Pompliano, a Facebook staffer-turned-crypto investor and podcaster, has become somewhat of the face of the industry. He frequents CNBC, CNN, and other mainstream business outlets to talk up Bitcoin.

Most recently, Pompliano appeared on “Squawk Box” to face off against O’Leary, the second large debate of his in a matter of a week. The current Morgan Creek Digital Assets co-founder stuck with his normal line, accentuating that Bitcoin is an uncorrelated safe haven that actually improves a portfolio’s risk-return ratio.

Pompliano even claimed that it is becoming “irresponsible” for hedge funds to now own Bitcoin or have an allocation towards the space, as they have a fiduciary responsibility to provide the best portfolios possible.

O’Leary was quick to rebut this sentiment, asking Pompliano how much he has in BTC. Pompliano played it coy, echoing what he has told outlets previously by saying that he has over 50% of his net worth in Bitcoin alone. By traditional investment standards, this is quite shocking. O’Leary said:

“In any one stock, never more than 5 percent, in any one sector, never more than 20 percent,” O’Leary said. “I teach this stuff! You never go beyond concentrations of that nature! Fifty percent! Shame on you! That’s nuts!”

Crypto Crap

O’Leary’s main critique of Bitcoin is that it is a “worthless” cryptocurrency, as it doesn’t exist in a liquid market. In May, he told CNBC that BTC doesn’t make much sense because you can’t get in and out of the market in “large amounts” (whatever that means).

He also doesn’t like altcoins. In fact, O’Leary hates them more than he hates Bitcoin because they underperform the market leader, claiming that it doesn’t make sense to have only one “game in Vegas”.

From Lover to Hater

What’s weird is that O’Leary hasn’t always been a hater of Bitcoin. On the contrary, in fact. Appearing on Canadian television in 2013, which was when BTC was trading in the three digits, the businessman claimed that Bitcoin is a bet against central banks and the traditional financial system.

This is the narrative being pushed by many economists and investors today, but was, back in 2013, all but a fringe idea held by the more anarchist element in the cryptocurrency space.

O’Leary went on to tell CBC that he believes that Bitcoin is “here to stay”, which was a comment that came literally days after a loss of over 50% in the asset’s price. The now-television star chalked up this opinion to the fact that Bitcoin had then surmounted a market capitalization of over $1 billion, making it a legitimate asset in his eyes.

He went on to add that all things considered, he was even considering putting 2% to 3% of his personal investment portfolios towards BTC, as it would be a great diversifying move.

This all begs the question — what happened between Bitcoin and O’Leary over the past five years? Did he miss out, is he looking to accumulate more, or did he forget entirely about the cryptocurrency? Right now, no one is all too sure.


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Posted by Nick Chong

Nick has been enamored with cryptocurrencies since finding out about them in 2013. He now reports on crypto- and blockchain-related news for a number of leading outlets.


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