Musk changed the status on his Twitter profile to the Bitcoin hashtag and published a cryptic endorsement for the world’s first cryptocurrency, which he has been skeptical towards. Shortly after changing his status, he simply wrote:
“In retrospect, it was inevitable.”
The users who wrote most of the answers to Musk’s tweet interpreted it as another hint about the Dogecoin (DOGE)—he had once jokingly called himself the former CEO of the meme-friendly cryptocurrency.
Still, an internet archive backup shows that Musk changed his status shortly before the tweet, which suggests that this is what he is referring to.
After Musk tweeted his apparent Bitcoin endorsement, the cryptocurrency suddenly and immediately rushed upwards—registering a nearly 17% increase in under one hour and taking BTC from $32,200 to just over $38,000 before the excitement faded, according to CoinMarketCap data.
Bitcoin daily price chart for Jan. 29. Source: CoinMarketCap
Musk’s apparent Bitcoin endorsement may be an answer to the restrictions on the ability to buy stocks of gaming retail chain GameStop (GME) imposed—and lifted—by stock exchange Robinhood as a reaction to retail traders buying it in an attempt to squeeze out the shorts performed on this asset by major hedge funds. On Jan. 26 he personally promoted the “GameStop pump” by Reddit’s WallStreetBets subreddit.
On Jan. 28, Musk clearly expressed his well-known negative stance towards shorting. He suggested that since it is not possible to sell a house or cars without owning them, it should not be possible to sell stocks without owning them either. He concluded:
“Shorting is a scam legal only for vestigial reasons.”
The WallStreetBets-initiated GameStop fight certainly made Musk happy. And his comments certainly helped GameStop fight its way back from the GME buy freeze, helping the stock end the trading week at $325, up more than 500% from the beginning of January, to its shorter’s dismay.
Musk’s involvement also appealed to Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao’s sense of humor. On Jan. 30, Zhao noted that in 2018 he had tweeted that Musk’s embrace of bitcoin was “inevitable” given the reaction to a tweet he made offering to buy a Tesla if Musk accepted crypto, noting the “large overlapping target market, early adopters.”
That was a day after Zhao—himself a billionaire—had expressed mixed emotions about the world’s richest man getting into crypto so early, saying “them buying now is good for us already in, but part of us kinda hope they would buy last, right? for the benefit of everyone else.”
He added: “But it’s @elonmusk. So, it’s ok. Let’s go!”