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Noted Hedge Fund Says Crypto Hasn’t Bottomed Yet

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Alex Sunnarborg is a founding partner of Tetras Capital, a New York City-based cryptocurrency hedge fund Forbes estimates to have $30 million in assets under management. Tetras is well known for a recent bearish bet it made: It shorted ether in May 2018, a month when the digital currency’s average price was nearly $700. Today, ether hovers around $100. Before Tetras, Sunnarborg did a stint in investment banking and founded crypto exchange and research app Lawnmower, which was acquired by CoinDesk in 2017.

Forbes: How would you describe your investment strategy?

Sunnarborg: In a bull market when everything is going up, especially when bitcoin is going up, altcoins generally will return more than bitcoin. In 2017 when we launched, we were looking to make altcoin trades. [Altcoins are generally considered any crypto asset other than bitcoin.] They historically have more volatility and higher betas.

In a bear market, altcoins are still trading at a higher beta, but to the downside. In 2018, bitcoin fell about 75%, but altcoins fell 95%. It’s funny how strongly they’re still correlated, yet altcoins have a higher beta. Today, if we’re trying to hedge our exposure to this space, before we short bitcoin we look at something with a higher beta.

Forbes: You shorted ether in May 2018, when it was trading above $500. Now ether is at $100. Obviously, that went well. Was it your biggest win for 2018?

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Sunnarborg: I would say so, yeah.

Forbes: Where’s the bottom for ether?

Sunnarborg: It’s funny, these cryptos don’t have a good way to come to a fundamental value. I can’t tell you ether is fundamentally going to bottom at $50. It was at $10 two years ago, right? These assets trade so much relatively to each other, so I think ether’s short-term bottom would be in line with bitcoin starting to turn. If bitcoin turned tomorrow and rallied, I think ether would, too.

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ForbesOver the past few months, we’ve seen issues with ConsenSys struggling and doing layoffs. Do you think that’s a bad sign for the future of Ethereum?

Sunnarborg: Yeah. ConsenSys is an integral piece of the Ethereum ecosystem. All the Ethereum decentralized applications and products it supports have had minimal user growth. A lot of them still haven’t launched and are still pretty difficult to use, and the daily active user counts are less than 100.

Augur has about $40,000 of money at stake across all its prediction markets, but the investors behind Augur have put up tens of millions. It has a market cap of hundreds of millions. There’s this massive disconnect between how much money is still tied up in these projects and how much people actually use them.

I’ve also noticed some Ethereum developers basically talking about building on some competing blockchains. People are talking about launching on Dfinity or Polkadot. At least at a high level, it does not look or feel good. It looks like a drop in momentum and steam.

Forbes: Are you currently short ether?

Sunnarborg: I don’t think I should comment on that right now. We have not held ether since we first published our short thesis in July 2018. We then went short ether, and we have taken that position off three or four times in 2018.

Forbes: Has bitcoin bottomed yet?

Sunnarborg: I don’t think so, and I think calling that is very difficult. That’s part of the reason I’m really thankful that we’re in the position we are right now. We can hedge ourselves, remain more neutral and not have to call that exact price or timing bottom. I’m not confident right now. Our portfolio is relatively neutral—we have cash and short positions.

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Forbes: What are you buying and holding?

Sunnarborg: Obviously, I’m a huge proponent of bitcoin. And if the market were to turn right now, what liquid altcoin sector would we even look at? We’re very biased against anything that did an ICO, because we think they’re pretty much all illegal securities offerings. Just by cutting that out, you are left with a very small handful of assets. A use case I still find interesting, because bitcoin doesn’t have that functionality yet, is private transactions.

Forbes: Among privacy coins, which do you like best?

Sunnarborg: I think Mimblewimble and Grin are pretty interesting—the fair launch process, the focus on privacy and the inflation. I think zcash and monero are both still interesting.

Forbes: Can you explain what Grin did to create a fair launch?

Sunnarborg: There’s only so many projects that don’t launch their blockchain or token without an ICO or some initial funding. Grin tried to use the ethos of bitcoin of saying there’s going to be a genesis block, and people are going to start mining the coin. There’s no way you can buy it or get access to this coin ahead of time. That’s very similar to how monero launched, and both of those attract a lot of interest from people in bitcoin, largely for that reason.

Forbes: What other factors do you look at?

Sunnarborg: Another huge thing for me is the security. So, things like that recent Ethereum Classic 51% attack (when users attacked the blockchain with computing power to spend the same coins twice, undermining the primary function of the blockchain). These blockchains where it’s possible to rewrite the blockchain for not that much money relative to how much you could make by double-spending—those are immediately not attractive. Unfortunately, in the crypto space, security and price are generally very correlated. So, as the price of ether falls, it gets less secure.

Forbes: I’ve seen you tweet about the virtual reality Ethereum-based platform Decentraland. Do you like that project?

Sunnarborg: I find the concept of digital land very interesting, because of its scarcity. I like the concept of digital scarcity. This land asset seems interesting as something I could own and build on, and maybe charge players a fee for. I could sell it to someone else in the future. The value actually makes sense to me. But there’s this other token in Decentraland called mana, which was created via an ICO. You have to use mana to buy land. I absolutely hate this token; it’s totally unnecessary. I think the ICO was just done to raise money. They sold these tokens, and then essentially, they’re backing into what to do with them.

Forbes: I’ve also seen you tweet about EOS and its growing number of transactions. Are you bullish on it?

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Sunnarborg: No. The one-year long, $4 billion-dollar ICO seems a little excessive to me. The whole governance system, with 21 block producers that can essentially make, vote, or deny everything, is a weird concept to me.

ForbesWhat should investors be monitoring for signals about where the market is headed?

Sunnarborg: One of the big, fundamental things I want to see is whether the Fidelity crypto trading product actually rolls out in March. And do people actually start to use it? A very similar question: What’s the status of trading platform Bakkt? Will it get approved, and are people going to use it?

And how does the composition of global exchange volume start to shape up from here? Does volume increase on regulated, brand-name platforms—platforms that the next wave of institutions would actually trust?

What I’m really looking for in all these comments: Will this market actually clean up? Can we start to trust crypto data more, like trading volume numbers? We need more regulated, trusted players to improve the trading venues, because I think right now the SEC and many people are scared of manipulation, hacks and very shady venues for trading.

What would be really good for a market bottom to happen would be for every potential bad thing to happen immediately. I would love to see the SEC come down on people really hard. One of the biggest problems in this space is there are so many bad actors, and so many were related to ICOs. The SEC just has such a massive task ahead of them.

One way to think about the bottom is that it happens when all the bad news gets washed out. At that point the only thing to do is go up, and you can’t really talk about any negative catalysts anymore, because they’ve all happened.

Basically, I think we’re pretty close to the bottom, and what would help is if some more of that clarity and action came out. It probably would have been helpful for the bottom if the VanEck exchange-traded fund would have gotten totally rejected; if the SEC slapped some more of these people around and essentially maximum pain came onto the market. At that point we would see where, if any, buyers jumped in.

Excerpted from the February 2019 issue of Forbes CryptoAsset And Blockchain Advisor.

-Jeff Kauflin; Forbes Staff

Billionaires

Meet The World’s 10 Youngest Billionaires In 2020

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PHOTO: JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES, DESIGN BY FORBES

From makeup mogul Kylie Jenner to Hong Kong real estate heir Jonathan Kwok, these 10 billionaires are worth $15.9 billion combined.

Of the 2,095 billionaires in the world, only ten are 30 or younger. Together, this precocious bunch is worth $15.9 billion. They span the globe, hailing from the U.S., Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland and Norway.

Despite the global markets falling in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, three people under 30 made the list for the first time this year. Pedro de Godoy Bueno, age 29, inherited assets from his billionaire father, Edson de Godoy Bueno, who died in 2017. Pedro’s fortune rose in the past year to an estimated $1.1 billion as stock of Brazilian laboratory services firm Diagnósticos da América SA tripled. The second new entrant is Lisa Draexlmaier, age 29, who owns and is co-CEO (with her father Fritz) of the holding company for German auto parts maker Fritz Draexlmaier Co & KG. Elizabeth Furtwaenger, 28, is now worth $1.2 billion after her father Hubert Burda gave her a 37.4% stake in the family’s media empire.

Just three of this elite cohort are self-made billionaires: Snap cofounder CEO Evan SpiegelJohn Collison of payments startup Stripe and, yes, makeup mogul Kylie Jenner. In November, she inked a deal to sell a 51% stake in Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty Inc. for $600 million. Jenner recently donated $1 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the hospital where she gave birth to daughter Stormi in 2018, to buy personal protective equipment such as masks and face shields.

Collison, born and raised in Limerick, Ireland, but now living in San Francisco, is the richest billionaire under 30, with a fortune of $3.2 billion. The value of his stake in privately held Stripe has nearly tripled in the past two years thanks to three nine-figure funding rounds. The most recent, a $250 million Series G in September, put Stripe’s valuation at $35 billion.

The seven others under 30 all inherited their wealth. Jonathan Kwok, 28, first became a billionaire in his own right after his father, Hong Kong property mogul Walter Kwok, passed away in 2018. Alexandra Andresen, now 23, has been a billionaire since she was 19 thanks to her stake in Ferd, the Norwegian investment company her father still runs.

Here are the 10 youngest members of the 2020 Billionaires list, starting with the youngest. Net worths were calculated using stock prices and exchange rates from March 18, 2020:

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KYLIE JENNER

AGE: 22

NET WORTH: $1 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: COSMETICS

Image by JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES

The celebrity-turned-makeup-mogul is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire ever. In November, she inked a deal to sell a 51% stake in Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty Inc. for $600 million.

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ALEXANDRA ANDRESEN

AGE: 23

NET WORTH: $1.1 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: INVESTMENT FIRM

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KATHARINA ANDRESEN

AGE: 24

NET WORTH: $1.1 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: INVESTMENT FIRM

The Norwegian sisters each inherited 42% of the family-owned investment company Ferd in 2007. Their father Johan still runs Ferd and controls 70% of the voting rights via a dual-class share structure.

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GUSTAV MAGNAR WITZOE

AGE: 26

NET WORTH: $2.3 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: FISH FARMING

Witzoe owns nearly half of Salmar ASA, one of the world’s largest salmon producers, which is still run by his father. The Norwegian heir has dabbled in modeling as well as tech and real estate investing.

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ELIZABETH FURTWAENGER

AGE: 28

NET WORTH: $1.2 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: PUBLISHING

Furtwaenger and her older brother Jacob were each given a 37.4% stake in the family’s German media company by their father, Hubert Burda, who is no longer a billionaire. Burda Media’s titles include the German editions of Elle and Playboy. Furtwaenger and her brother Jacob serve on the board of directors.

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JONATHAN KWOK

AGE: 28

NET WORTH: $2 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: REAL ESTATE

Kwok, along with his older brother Geoffrey, inherited their late father Walter Kwok’s stake in Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong’s largest developer, in 2018. Shares of Hong Kong-listed SHKP have declined nearly 18% since the coronavirus outbreak at the start of the year.

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JOHN COLLISON

AGE: 29

NET WORTH: $3.2 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: STRIPE

Stripe, the payments company founded by John and his older brother Patrick, raised $250 million from investors at a $35 billion valuation in September 2019. John, born and raised near Limerick, Ireland, now lives in San Francisco, where Stripe is headquartered.

Image by JAMEL TOPPIN FOR FORBES
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EVAN SPIEGEL

AGE: 29

NET WORTH: $1.9 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: SNAP

The Snapchat cofounder is one of the youngest CEOs of a publicly-traded company in the world. After rallying in 2019, Snap stock is down 50% since the start of the year. Spiegel, who was born in the U.S., quietly became a dual American-French citizen in 2018, according to reports in the French press.

Evan Spiegel
Image by MICHAEL GRECO
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PEDRO DE GODOY BUENO

AGE: 29

NET WORTH: $1.1 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

A newcomer to the billionaire ranks, Pedro is the son of the late Edson de Godoy Bueno (d. 2017), once Brazil’s richest healthcare billionaire. Bueno is the CEO and largest shareholder of laboratory services firm Diagnósticos da América SA, which has seen its shares nearly triple over the past year.

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LISA DRAEXLMAIER

AGE: 29

NET WORTH: $1 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: AUTO PARTS

Draexlmaier and her father, Fritz, are co-CEOs of Fritz Draexlmaier Holdings GmbH, the holding company of the autoparts maker of the same name. Lisa, now the sole owner, joins the billionaires’ list for the first time.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include Elizabeth Furtwaenger.

Hayley C. Cuccinello, Forbes Staff, Billionaires

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Wealth

Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The Richest Person In The World After Amazon Stock Plunges

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Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos lost his title as the richest man in the world during after-hours trading on Thursday, after his ecommerce behemoth reported lackluster third-quarter earnings. 

Amazon shares fell 7% in after-hours trading, knocking Bezos’ fortune down to $103.9 billion. That puts him at number two among the world’s richest. The new number one: Microsoft cofounder and fellow Washington state resident Bill Gates, who is worth $105.7 billion. 

Bezos became the richest man in the world in 2018 and the first centibillionaire to ever appear on the The Forbes 400 that year with a net worth of $160 billion, ending Gates’ 24-year run as number one. 

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But the Amazon chief executive’s net worth drop isn’t entirely due to the decline in Amazon shares. Bezos transferred a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos as part of their divorce settlement, which was finalized earlier this year. MacKenzie Bezos is worth $32.7 billion, and among the top twenty wealthiest people in the world. 

On Thursday afternoon, Amazon reported a 26% drop in net income in its third quarter, its first profit decline since 2017.  In after-hours trading, Amazon dropped nearly 9% to $1,624 per share in the 20 minutes after the market closed. It has since rebounded slightly, hovering at $1,657 per share at 7:30 p.m. ET

The company said it is investing heavily in logistics and delivery infrastructure, with the goal of making one-day shipping the norm for Amazon Prime members.

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The company disclosed during its second quarter earnings call in July that it had spent “a little bit” more than the estimated $800 million that it has previously said it would invest in one-day shipping infrastructure.

The company declined to disclose how much it had spent on one-day shipping in the third quarter. But chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky did disclose Thursday that the company plans to spend $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, presumably to finance the one-day shipping initiative. 

Gates, meanwhile, has been out of Microsoft since 2014 when he stepped down as chairman of the storied company, though he remains a board member. He has sold or given away the majority of his Microsoft stake and diversified his wealth over time. He is now the co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charitable foundation in the world. 

Bill Gates debuted on Forbes’ first ever billionaire list in 1987 with a net worth of $1.25 billion. Bezos first joined The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1998, one year after Amazon went public, with a net worth of $1.6 billion. 

-Angel Au-Yeung; Forbes

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These Are The Biggest Givers On The Forbes 400

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This has been a year of record-setting in billionaire philanthropy. In September, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, pledged $750 million to the California Institute of Technology for environmental sustainability research.

In June, Blackstone cofounder Stephen Schwarzman donated $189 million to the University of Oxford—the largest single gift to the school since the Renaissance—to fund its work on humanities. The same month, Broadcom billionaire Henry Samueli pledged $100 million to UCLA’s engineering school, the largest gift ever to the department. 

Forbes tracks gifts and pledges like these as part of our ongoing coverage of charitable giving by the country’s richest people.

READ MORE | The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

For the second year in a row, Forbes tracked the philanthropic giving of the richest 400 individuals in the U.S. and gave each member of The Forbes 400 list a philanthropy score. The score ranged from 1 to 5,  with 5 being the most philanthropic. List members for whom we could find no charitable giving information received an N.A. (not available).

Philanthropy Forbes 400
FORBES

Though the number of the biggest givers—those who scored a 5—stayed flat in 2019, those who received scores of 4 and 3 increased compared with a year ago.

The changes reflect two things: The country’s richest have gotten somewhat more generous, and Forbes had more information to work with this year. Some billionaires were willing to share information on charitable giving for the 2019 list who didn’t in 2018. As a result, four dozen people got higher scores this year than a year ago. 

This year, Warren Buffett led the list of top givers with $38.8 billion in lifetime giving, which is 32% of his net worth, and earned the top score of 5.

He was followed by last year’s biggest giver, Bill Gates, who has donated $38.5 billion so far. Two people who scored a 5 last year—Paul Allen and David Koch—passed away.

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Billionaires like DreamWorks Pictures founder David Geffen and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton moved up to the top score after each scored a 4 last year. According to the latest tax filings, Geffen gave $38 million to his foundation in 2017, which brought his lifetime giving to about $1 billion.

Acton and his wife Tegan, on the other hand, have been expanding their philanthropic network, Wildcard Giving, which they founded in 2014 after Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook. The couple has given away more than $1 billion to charitable causes.

2019 Forbes 400 Giving
FORBES

Forty-one billionaires, including Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and software billionaire Philip “Terry” Ragon, got higher scores this year than last year. Some, like Stephen Schwarzman, earned a higher score thanks to giving in the past year.

Others scored higher because we were able to find more information about their lifetime giving, through new public documents or details provided to us by Forbes 400 members or their spokespeople. In September, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that B.

Wayne Hughes, cofounder of self-storage behemoth Public Storage, had anonymously donated about $400 million to the University of Southern California in his lifetime. Hughes, who scored a 2 last year, jumped up to a 4.

Private equity tycoon Robert F. Smith’s pledge in May to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College generated lots of headlines but did not end up changing his score because the gift wasn’t big enough to move him up a notch. In many cases, fortunes grew faster than lifetime philanthropic giving. 

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To come up with the information on which we based our score, Forbes reporters looked at tax filings for charitable foundations, annual statements, SEC filings and news about new gifts. When possible, we interviewed Forbes 400 members and executives from their foundations. Some Forbes 400 members said they have chosen to donate anonymously, citing religious or privacy concerns. 

Our score is based on total lifetime giving and what percent of their fortune members had given away. We weighted these two factors equally. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on several other factors, including whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed dollars. We didn’t count pledges or announced gifts that have yet to be paid out, but we took commitment to philanthropy—or lack thereof—into account.

Forbes has been tracking the wealth of the richest Americans since 1982. “Some of [the members] told us to drop dead,” James Michaels, veteran editor of Forbes, told the New York Times in a 1982 story about the list’s debut. “They said they wanted no part of it, that they’d sue us.

This happens in reporting.” At times, our reporting on philanthropic giving received a similar response. “The new philanthropy ranking is fundamentally flawed, in that it is biased in favor of those who make their gifts widely known, and against donors who choose to make their charitable contributions anonymously,” one current Forbes 400 member (who did not wish to be named) wrote to us last year.

-Deniz Çam; Forbes

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