Exclusive-Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund made $200 million crypto investment before bull run

FILE PHOTO: Peter Thiel attends the annual Allen and Co. Sun Valley Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., July 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - Founders Fund, the venture capital firm founded by billionaire Peter Thiel, is investing once again in bitcoin and ether, sources said, signaling Silicon Valley's renewed interest in cryptocurrency markets.

From late summer to early fall last year, the fund invested $200 million to acquire crypto tokens, half in bitcoin and the other half in ether, the two largest cryptocurrencies, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The previously unreported move by the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm underscores some institutional investors' return to token investments, once the hottest investment strategy before the crypto market crashed in 2022.

The outsized bet marks a comeback for crypto markets, which suffered in 2022 after the collapse of crypto exchange FTX and other big players crushed prices, tarnished the industry and prompted a regulatory crackdown.

In 2022, the price of bitcoin crashed to nearly $15,000, its lowest price since 2020.

Bitcoin and ether prices have gradually climbed over the past year, with bitcoin hitting $50,000 for first time in more than two years this week, but still below its peak of $69,000 in November 2021.

As one of the earliest institutional investors in crypto, Founders Fund began aggressively buying bitcoin in 2014, but then liquidated it before the crypto market crashed in 2022, making about $1.8 billion in returns.

Last summer, Founder's Fund started to acquire bitcoin when it was below $30,000, and purchased more bitcoin and ether over a few months, sources added. Reuters wasn't able to learn the average price of those purchases.

A spokesperson for the fund declined to comment.

Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, has publicly praised bitcoin, a currency based on blockchain technology that exists outside the purview of central banks, saying it is a store of value like gold and a hedge against central banks' monetary policy.

The cryptocurrency affinity aligns with the billionaire's interests in libertarianism, small government and technology innovation.

Founders Fund, known for its early bets in companies such as SpaceX and Meta, now has over $12 billion in assets under management. It hired Joey Krug as partner in April 2023 to focus on crypto investing.

(Reporting by Anna Tong in San Francisco and Krystal Hu in Toronto; editing by Kenneth Li and Sonali Paul)

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