Given the meteoric rise — and fall — of Bitcoin over the past year or so, almost every Shark Tank investor has been asked how they feel about cryptocurrency. While it’s tougher to find comments by Barbara Corcoran or Lori Greiner on the issue, the other four sharks have had their say, and their opinions vary widely, much like the financial and tech world at large.
CNBC reported last month that Mark Cuban said his NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, planned to start accepting crypto payments. As an investment, Cuban recommended people put in only what they can afford to lose, highlighting the common perception that crypto is highly volatile and in no way a safe investment.
Daymond John’s comments to Money were a bit more guarded, saying the cryptocurrency isn’t going anywhere, but like with any investment it’s a good idea to learn more and educate yourself before investing. Kevin O’Leary made a similar point to CNBC in December, saying he estimates 99 percent of those investing in Bitcoin don’t actually know how it works. Like Cuban, he recommended investors have fun with it — only if they are prepared to lose their cash.
However, Robert Herjavec has a more interesting take on cryptocurrency. He told Money that blockchain, Bitcoin’s underlying technology, has far-reaching application beyond currency. The future of money is cryptocurrency, according to Herjavec, and will become more widespread than cash. His concern about Bitcoin, Ethereum, and similar products as investments are that they are not based on anything of tangible value. Once they go to zero, there’s nothing left. That’s unlike other investments that may fluctuate in financial worth.
“When I buy a house and it’s overpriced, I can live in it. There’s some fundamental value.”
He also mentioned that cryptocurrency is sold on exchanges that are vulnerable to being hacked. Which leads to Herjavec’s unique, and somewhat personal, reluctance to invest in cryptocurrency: its current widespread use to fund hacking, not just of exchanges, but of technology systems and data of all kinds. Herjavec is the founder of The Herjavec Group, a cybersecurity firm.
“Cryptocurrency is the choice of funding and transactions for hackers. And since we’re the good guys, I can’t get behind [that]. If there was no cryptocurrency, much of the large hacks that we’re seeing today wouldn’t exist.”
Bitcoin is often touted as an anonymous way to do financial transactions. However, as Bloomberg reported last month, the blockchain upon which Bitcoin is built actually provides a level of transparency that criminals don’t want. With blockchain, each transaction is stamped with a time, location, and amount. Because of this lack of privacy, some nefarious actors are turning to other cryptocurrencies that obscure those details.
Shark Tank airs Sunday nights on ABC.