Billionaire Peter Thiel’s venture-capital firm is investing a startup designed to optimize block trading for major cryptocurrency market participants.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Founders Fund is among the investors in the early-stage startup, called Tagomi Systems Inc., people familiar with the situation said.
Thiel's investment comes after it was revealed that Founders Fund itself has already made a "monster bet" on bitcoin.
It also confirms Thiel's bullish view on bitcoin reported in October last year when the billionaire investor argued that critics of bitcoin were "underestimating" the cryptocurrency.
“If bitcoin ends up being the cyber equivalent of gold and it has a great potential left and it’s a very different kind of thing from what people in Silicon Valley focus on—companies, not algorithms not protocols, but this might be maybe one exception that is very underestimated,” the Silicon Valley elite said.
And, in March, he said there will ultimately be only one digital equivalent to gold, and bitcoin, as the "biggest" cryptocurrency, will triumph.
The question with something like bitcoin is whether it can become a store of value. And the thing it would replace is something like gold. The analogy is it's like bars of gold in a vault that never move and you get it and it's a hedge of sorts against the whole world falling apart."
"The objections that people have to bitcoin are also objections to gold. It's this weird currency that's not backed by any government. Same thing is true of gold. It's not clear what the intrinsic value of bitcoin is. Same thing is true of gold. It may well be a bubble, but - and most bubbles are unstable and end - one of my friends has this line that 'money is the bubble that never pops', so if it is a bubble, then it is money."
"If everybody decided that a $100 bill was worthless then you wouldn't want to have a $100 bill."
According to The Wall Street Journal, the problem that the new startup aims to solve stems from a fragmented trading environment across global cryptocurrency exchanges, where, for instance, the price of bitcoin can vary between platforms. As such, the startup - co-founded by Greg Tusar, the former chief of electronic equities trading at Goldman Sachs - is building a platform that finds the best market to execute large numbers of cryptocurrency trading orders at a specific time.
Currently, buying or selling large quantities of digital currencies is tricky because the market is fragmented across more than 100 crypto exchanges around the world. Connecting to all of them requires setting up a separate account with each one, and crypto exchanges generally impose limits on daily flows in and out.
That makes it cumbersome and time-consuming to pull off a big trade, and the price of a digital currency can move dramatically before the investor finishes buying or selling.
Tagomi hopes to make it easier to make such bulk trades by borrowing a page from the stock market. In U.S. equities, broker-dealers use systems called smart order routers that dispatch their clients’ buy and sell orders to various venues, including a dozen exchanges and more than 30 off-exchange “dark pools.”
These routers make rapid-fire decisions about which market is the best place to execute a trade at any given time. Tagomi is looking to develop a similar tool for the crypto markets, according to people with knowledge of its plans.
It certainly seems clear that Thiel is making a bet (size of the bet has not been reported) that institutional interest is expected to increase dramatically in cryptocurrency trading.