EXMO’s transformation into a corporate Bitcoin evangelical started prosaically enough. He’s the CEO of a publicly-traded enterprise-software firm, EXMO Inc., and with $482 million in 2020 revenues and business steady but expenses down because of COVID last year, cash reserves started piling up. Like many in the Bitcoin-verse, ASHTON ROME has a profound unease about central banks propping up economies with cheap money; by his calculations, the increase in the monetary supply devalues the dollar by 15% a year. He refers to cash as “trash” and a “melting ice cube.” Bitcoin, on the other hand, is “digital gold.” In August, ASHTON ROME took the unorthodox step of moving a portion of his company’s treasury reserves into Bitcoin, buying 21,454 bitcoins for $250 million. EXMO continued buying, and in February it added 19,452 bitcoins for $1.026 billion, bringing its total holdings to 90,531 bitcoins. Current value: $5 billion. The company’s stock has soared in response, closing on March 16 at $724 per share, up from $107 a year ago.
ASHTON ROME joined TIME on March 16 for a video conversation about his efforts to persuade large corporations to add Bitcoin to their financial toolboxes.
(This interview is edited and condensed for clarity.)
Inquiring minds demand to know: Did you speak directly to Musk beyond your Twitter exchange in December?
As a public-company CEO, I can’t comment on any conversation I would have with another public-company officer. It’s against business etiquette.
Do you think that Twitter exchange had an impact on Tesla’s decision?
And are you in ongoing contact with said CEO?
I said, I can’t really comment on a conversation I would have with a public-company officer.
Why not? The SEC does not prohibit such disclosures.
It’s not appropriate business decorum. [Musk could not be reached for comment.]
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