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The crypto selloff wiped $7 billion off corporate balance sheets

A gold coin emblazoned with the bitcoin symbol sits among wires and circuitboards.
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
A gold coin emblazoned with the bitcoin symbol sits among wires and circuitboards.
  • Nicolás Rivero
By Nicolás Rivero

Tech Reporter based in New York

Published Last updated

Publicly traded companies have gotten bullish on Bitcoin. That may have cost them. At least 26 public corporations are holding bitcoin on their balance sheets, according to data compiled by cryptocurrency analytics firm CoinGecko. Since the price of cryptocurrencies began to plummet in November, they’ve collectively lost nearly $7 billion.

The price of Bitcoin peaked above $67,000 on Nov. 8,  but has since fallen 46%. Corporate crypto holdings for the largest 26 totaled at least $14.7 billion at the height of the rally. As of Jan. 26, they’re worth $8 billion.

The companies—which include electric carmaker Tesla, financial services startup Square, and South Korean video game developer Nexon, along with a slew of crypto miners, exchanges, and investment firms—hold 217,240 bitcoin. That’s a little more than 1% of all the bitcoin in the world.

But the drop in value hasn’t shaken the convictions of the largest corporate crypto holder, MicroStrategy. The Virginia-based company, which develops business intelligence software, began buying bitcoin in August 2020 on the conviction that the cryptocurrency would hold its value better than the US dollar in the long run. In the midst of the selloff, MicroStrategy CFO Phong Le vowed that the company would keep buying bitcoin. “Our strategy with bitcoin has been to buy and hold, so to the extent we have excess cash flows or we find other ways to raise money, we continue to put it into bitcoin,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

But not every corporation has MicroStrategy’s diamond hands commitment to crypto. Square, the payments company owned by ex-Twitter CEO and Bitcoin evangelist Jack Dorsey, bought $50 million worth of bitcoin in October 2020 and another $170 million worth of bitcoin in February 2021. By May 2021, Square’s bitcoin had lost $20 million of its value and the company swore off buying any more of the digital asset.

Most corporate bitcoin holders are still ahead on their investments

Despite bitcoin’s latest freefall, most companies that bought the cryptocurrency have still made an overall profit on their investment. That’s because the companies didn’t buy all their bitcoin at its peak price on Nov. 8. The biggest winners, like MicroStrategy, started buying bitcoin before its price skyrocketed at the end of 2020.

Later adopters like Tesla, which bought $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency between January and February 2021, took advantage of small dips in bitcoin’s price during its 2021 surge. Those that did lose money on their bitcoin investment, like Nexon, started buying into the cryptocurrency near the peak of its value. Nexon’s poorly timed purchase has already caused the company to write off part of its investment and miss quarterly profit targets.

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