'Shark Tank' investor Kevin O'Leary says today's crypto market is like the early days of Big Tech in the 1990s
- Kevin O'Leary compared the volatility in crypto markets to the early days of Big Tech in an interview this week.
- The billionaire investor directly compared bitcoin and Amazon in terms of price volatility, which he sees as an opportunity.
- Bitcoin is having a bad start, but investors just have to get used to it, as with Amazon, he told Yahoo Finance.
"Shark Tank "investor Kevin O'Leary compared the high volatility in crypto markets to the early days of tech's biggest companies, which underwent similar volatility in the early days of the dot-com boom before becoming market leaders.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance Live earlier this week, the Canadian billionaire called crypto the biggest opportunity for investors in 2022, with volatility to be expected. He also noted the current selloff in technology stocks was a potential chance to buy.
"When you get volatility, generally speaking, in my world, I take advantage of it. Because I have to deploy capital all the time, and I have to decide: Where am I going to put it?," he said.
"I like growth, and I understand it's going to be volatile. And days like this, I remind myself I've seen this movie before."
O'Leary noted tech stocks' rough start to 2022 and how that shaped up against performance in the past.
"Go back 17 years on Amazon, which I've owned for almost that entire stretch. We had 30, 40%, 50% corrections each year. And yet, look where you end up today," he said in the interview.
"And so I look at it, and say to myself: Let's learn from the past, apply that to the future, take advantage of volatility."
Amazon endured big volatility during the dot-com boom and bust. Its shares went from being worth less than $8 in mid-1998 to around $100 in six months, before peaking at $110 a year later and collapsing back to below $10 by early 2001. It's now worth over $3,000, and Amazon is one of the world's most valuable companies.
"Bitcoin's having one of its worst starts ever. But you have to get used to it, just like you had to get used to Amazon, where it would have these 30% to 50% corrections, same thing with bitcoin," O'Leary said.
Bitcoin has had wild swings over the past year, surging to a high of over $64,000 early in 2021, before retreating to below $30,000 halfway through the year, and then roaring to a record of almost $69,000 by November. It has since dropped almost uninterruptedly, and by Thursday was around $43,750.
O'Leary drew the comparison between Amazon and bitcoin, and said investing in Big Tech and crypto is essentially like investing in software.
"Bitcoin is not a coin, it's actually software. The blockchain is software, ethereum is software, HBAR is software, polygon is software," he said, referring to crypto used in decentralized finance.
"So the real decision is if you're willing to invest in software — because it's a productivity tool, as an equity such as Google — why wouldn't you invest in software such as ethereum? Because it provides a service, particularly in payment systems that is being used globally," he added.
O'Leary — whose nickname is "Mr. Wonderful" — also talked of the likelihood of more crypto regulation and the benefits it could bring. "If we make it regulated, if we get institutions into it and find a way for them to be compliant, there's trillions of dollars going to come into this space, because it has a pragmatic use," he said.
The billionaire investor said he uses the same rules of diversification for crypto that he applies to stocks and bonds. While he hasn't disclosed all his holdings, he's known to own bitcoin, ethereum, and stablecoin USD Coin.
He noted he's "not anywhere near 20% in crypto" and has just gone over 10.7% in his operating company.