At a time when many people vilify Musk and his takeover of Twitter, the wealthiest crypto entrepreneurs are publicly supporting the controversial billionaire. Their interests are both ideological and financial.
It’s been a tough year for crypto billionaires, who have seen their net worth plummet over the spring and summer. But Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has them smiling again.
In Musk and his promises to bring “free speech” to Twitter, libertarian-leaning crypto executives see a kindred spirit. And in Musk’s recurring enthusiasm for crypto (including his love of the meme-token dogecoin), some see glimmers of hope that Twitter will build crypto payment features or incorporate other “Web3” elements.
“I think Elon is awesome and we are so lucky to have him on our planet,” wrote Bitcoin venture capitalist and investor Tim Draper. Forbes in an email. (draper falls billionaire ranks earlier this year as bitcoin prices fell). “I believe he wants to save the planet with Tesla, make sure we can get away with it with SpaceX, and now allow everyone free speech with Twitter, and he’s doing it in a cost-effective way, so that he can do it successfully. I hope he will live forever.
Another of Musk’s biggest cheerleaders is Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance. The crypto exchange invested $500 million this month to help Musk take Twitter private at a sky-high $44 billion valuation (which Musk agreed to, in part, because he saw an opportunity make a joke on the grass).
“Twitter is a platform for freedom of expression, which is global [and] very important”, CZ, as it is called, Told CNBC earlier this week. “We want to support strong entrepreneurs; Elon Musk is a very strong entrepreneur.
CZ, who Forbes estimates is worth $17.4 billion, has other reasons to support Musk’s takeover of Twitter. “We want to make sure crypto has a place at the table for free speech,” CZ said. CNBC. “We want to help bring Twitter into Web3 when they’re ready.”
According to Owen Lau, equity analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., Binance’s investment gives CZ a head start in influencing Twitter’s future crypto forays. “CZ definitely has an advantage here,” Lau says. “Who [else] can write a check for 500 million dollars?
CZ did not go into detail about how Binance, which is facing numerous investigations from various US authorities over allegations of money laundering and other financial crimes, plans to work with Twitter. CZ and Binance could not be reached for comment.
Brian Armstrong, the billionaire co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, is another fan of Musk’s vision. “Elon buying Twitter is a big win for free speech and probably changes the trajectory of the world more than most people realize,” Armstrong tweeted in April when the deal was first announced. “Twitter is upstream of media and culture in many ways, and it was heading in a very dangerous direction when it came to censorship,” Armstrong (who is famously political debate banned in his company in 2020).
It does not appear that Armstrong has changed his mind in recent months. “Nothing to add beyond Brian’s tweets,” a Coinbase spokesperson wrote to Forbes when asked for an update on Armstrong’s opinion. Armstrong hasn’t released a statement since Musk took over Twitter.
More emboldened are Bitcoin billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Cameron slammed those companies that have already withdrawn advertising funds from Twitter due to Musk’s takeover, and said Musk “plans to cure” the platform’s ills, such as its “politically motivated censorship.” And his brother took a hit to those complaining about Musk’s plans to charge $8 a month for a blue check, saying the previous cost to get a blue check was to become “drinking buddies with someone who continued to work on Twitter and that you could call for a favor.”
Michael Saylor, bitcoin investor and founder of MicroStrategy, a software company that also has 130,000 bitcoins on its balance sheet, also endorsed Musk’s blue check fee, Tweeter, “If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product.” saylor too tweeted an image of Musk releasing the Twitter bluebird from a cage, which has been shared over 7,000 times.
Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX (a Binance rival), is less optimistic that Musk will turn Twitter into a crypto haven. In fact, Bankman-Fried turned down the opportunity to invest in Twitter for this reason, he told a crowd of Forbes Iconoclastic Summit conference attendees this week.
“We ended up going through because ultimately we were checking if he wanted a crypto partner to help with Web3 payments,” Bankman-Fried said, adding, “Is it true that our visions here are complementary and Is there anything I can add to that? I didn’t feel like it was.”
Either way, Bankman-Fried insists he’s still “very excited” about Musk’s takeover. “There are a lot of benefits in what it does,” said the founder of FTX. “I trust him to run with his vision and I’m super excited about it.”