A top antitrust expert and big tech critic at the White House is a Bitcoin millionaire.
Tim Wu owns between $1 million and $5 million in Bitcoin, as well as between $100,001 and $250,000 in Filecoin, a storage platform for cryptocurrency, Politico reported, citing a financial disclosure provided by the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University, which requested the document from the White House.
The Bitcoin investment by Wu, a tough critic of tech companies’ power, Politico noted, is his largest holding in his financial portfolio.
Wu, known for coining the term “net neutrality,” joined the Biden administration in March as special assistant for technology and competition policy to the president at the National Economic Council — and didn’t have any involvement in developing policies about cryptocurrency in the role, Politico reported.
But he wasn’t always a fan of Bitcoin. In 2017, he wrote a commentary for the New York Times calling it “a bubble” and asked: “Is it really worth anything at all?
“Bitcoin isn’t backed by any sovereign, and unlike a stock or a bond, it gives you a claim to nothing other than Bitcoin itself,” he wrote, although he added that “illusory quality” describes most forms of money. He also cast doubt on the practical value of consumers using Bitcoin to pay for everyday purchases because of its large price swings, but said cryptocurrency “might work fine as a store of value that you can sell.” He also said Bitcoin reflected a trend of social trust moving away from human institutions to systems based on code, Politico reported.
Wu went on leave from his position as a law professor at Columbia — where he made a total of $617,500 over 16 months — to join the Biden administration, Politico reported.
Based on Bitcoin’s current price of about $34,000, Wu holds between 29 and 146 actual Bitcoins. Bitcoin is off more than 40% from the height of its value, but is up around 20% this year, Politico reported.
Overall, Wu is worth between nearly $4 million and $11.5 million, with much of the rest of his money tied up in Vanguard mutual funds, the disclosure shows, Politico reported. The Bitcoin investment constitutes between 25-43% percent of his assets.
In a statement to Politico, a White House official said: “Tim is recused from any particular matters involving bitcoin or cryptocurrency generally because of his financial interest, and has not worked on any such matters.”