3 big takeaways from Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Cathie Wood’s Bitcoin showdown
After weeks of hype, three of the tech world’s most prominent Bitcoin boosters took to the virtual stage Wednesday to discuss the values and potential of the benchmark cryptocurrency.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood came together for “The B Word,” a virtual conference co-hosted by Wood’s investment firm and Dorsey’s fintech giant, as well as the crypto investment firm Paradigm. The conversation had been highly anticipated since Musk and Dorsey took to Twitter last month to tease their participation in the event, which aimed to “demystify and destigmatize mainstream narratives about Bitcoin” and “explain how institutions can embrace it.”
Over the course of the panel discussion, the three Bitcoin believers aired their views on everything from its prospects as a widely accepted form of currency to its controversially intensive energy usage. Here are a few notable takeaways from their chat:
SpaceX owns Bitcoin
Tesla made waves earlier this year in disclosing that it had $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin on its balance sheet — a big bet that, for the time being, hasn’t paid off amid the token’s recent price struggles. But Musk noted that the electric carmaker isn’t the only company he runs that holds Bitcoin — revealing that SpaceX, his privately-owned aerospace and satellite communications company, also owns the crypto. He did not disclose how much Bitcoin is on SpaceX’s books, however.
Additionally, Musk disclosed that he personally owns Bitcoin, fellow benchmark token Ethereum, and Dogecoin, the memecoin whose popularity and price he’s helped spike in 2021. The price of all three tokens spiked Wednesday in the wake of his revelations, though they all subsequently leveled off.
Bitcoin’s energy use
Bitcoin has faced ample scrutiny lately for the huge amounts of energy required to mine the cryptocurrency — the major factor in Tesla’s decision to stop accepting Bitcoin as payment for its vehicles earlier this year.
But Musk reiterated that his automaker could begin accepting Bitcoin again if miners begin relying more on cleaner energy sources, and noted “a positive trend” in that direction. “It looks like Bitcoin is shifting a lot more toward renewables,” he said, noting that “a bunch of the heavy duty coal plants that were being used” to mine Bitcoin “have been shut down, especially in China.” He added that once he could establish that the percentage of Bitcoin’s renewable energy usage “is most likely at or above 50%, and that there is a trend toward increasing that number,” then Tesla would resume accepting Bitcoin.
Wood offered her own thoughts about how Bitcoin fits within the environmental, social, and governance, (ESG) investing movement, saying she believes that Bitcoin “will be much more environmentally friendly — certainly than traditional gold mining or the traditional financial services sector. In many ways, it already is.” She also said she thinks Bitcoin has much to offer in the “social” and “governance” aspects of ESG — the former by providing financially underserved people with “access to payment technology… everywhere around the world without friction,” and the latter by offering transparency “unlike the opaqueness of financial systems and the toll-takers in the traditional financial world.”
Should Twitter let advertisers pay with crypto?
In discussing Bitcoin’s disruptive potential, Dorsey said the cryptocurrency could function as the Internet’s “native currency” in a way that would help businesses small and large grow “in a much faster way.” He cited Twitter as an example, expressing his belief that the social media giant “would certainly not have the dependency we have upon the advertising business model if Bitcoin existed pre-Twitter.”
Musk later picked up on that though in asking Dorsey directly why Twitter doesn’t go down that route. “What about letting Twitter advertisers pay in crypto?” he floated. While Dorsey said he believes that “any form of payment that they want to use, we should be able to take,” he noted that he’s “more focused on how do we create economic incentives in [Twitter’s] network itself without having to rely on advertising.”
But Musk would not be denied — stressing the importance of allowing more “off-ramps” by which cryptocurrencies can “get translated into real products and services,” and adding that “accepting Bitcoin and maybe some other cryptos for advertising payments on Twitter would be supportive” of Bitcoin. He then doubled down and asked the Twitter CEO “if he’s gonna do it,” to the amusement of the others on the panel — except for Dorsey, who shrugged off the question with a nonplussed expression.