Many of us know the feeling of hearing: if you had invested in Bitcoin (BTC) early on, then you’d probably be a millionaire by now. It hurts, but there’s really nothing we can do about it—unless anyone out there has a time machine we could borrow.
When BTC came on the scene, many people didn’t know what it was. However, there were a select few that saw the diamond in the rough and invested in it really early on. These people have become Bitcoin whales, a term often used in the space that refers to people or groups holding a large amount of crypto.
But this then begs the question: who owns the most Bitcoin? Well, there are a couple of places we’ll have to look at: individuals, companies, and wallet addresses.
Individuals who own the most bitcoin
With this being about Bitcoin, how could we leave out its mysterious creator? Satoshi Nakamoto wrote the Bitcoin: a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash whitepaper that led to the development and the release of the BTC network.
The Genesis Block (or Block 0) came out in 2009 and Nakamoto continued to work on the active development team until he disengaged from the project one and a half years later. Until today, no one knows the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, despite many people claiming the identity.
Nakamoto was one of the first to mine Bitcoin but didn’t cash them out, meaning that he possesses a lot of BTC—expected to be around 1 million BTC.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss
Known for their infamous Facebook lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg, the Winklevoss twins have made quite a name for themselves in the cryptocurrency space. The money—which is in the millions—they earned from the undisclosed settlement was invested in cryptocurrencies. Now, they claim to own around 1% of all the BTC in circulation.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss also launched Gemini, one of the world’s first regulated exchanges for crypto, in the hopes of building an ecosystem that’ll attract more institutional Bitcoin investors and day traders.
Barry Silbert is the CEO and founder of the Digital Currency Group, a venture capital company that focuses on the digital currency market. Silbert is also known as the “The King of Crypto” as his firm has invested in more than 100 Bitcoin companies—being one of the first companies to do so.
Silbert’s Bitcoin Investment Trust claimed to have reached the 100,000 BTC milestone in 2014.
Formerly the Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Chase, Blythe Masters led Digital Asset Holdings in 2014 as CEO. Digital Asset builds encryption-based processing tools that help improve trading Bitcoin—inefficiency, security, settlement speed, and compliance.
Masters still fulfills her role in leading companies as a guide to blockchain, financial services, and technology. Although her exact net worth is unknown, there are reports about the massive investments in the companies she was a part of, and is still undoubtedly one of the most influential women in the industry.
Founder of Pantera Capital, one of the first investment firms to focus on cryptocurrencies, Dan Morehead was a former Goldman Sachs trader. He launched Pantera in 2013 and by 2018, it was one of the largest institutional owners of crypto.
Pantera has invested in various investment firms, exchanges, and even coin trading services and was reported to receive over 10,000% in returns in 2018.
Although Morehead’s exact net worth is unknown, it’s expected to be in the high seven-digit range, if not more.
Companies that own large amounts of Bitcoin
Larger companies have also taken notice of Bitcoin, with some of the biggest companies holding several million dollars—if not more—worth of BTC. Based on the data found on Bitcoin Treasuries, here are the top three companies that rule the space:
MicroStrategy is a company that provides cloud-based services, business intelligence, and mobile software. It was founded in 1989 by Michael J. Saylor, Sanju Bansal, and Thomas Spahr.
They’re currently leading the list with a total of 105,085 BTC, amounting to around 3.4 billion USD and 0.5% of Bitcoin’s 21 million supply cap at the time of writing.
By now, we’re sure that everyone knows how much chaos Tesla founder Elon Musk creates for the cryptocurrency space.
According to an SEC filing, Tesla, an electric vehicle manufacturing company, has joined the ranks of companies holding BTC. The filing reveals that the company invested “an aggregate of 1.5 billion USD” in Bitcoin, amounting to around 7.7% of Tesla’s 19.384 billion cash holdings as of Q4 2020. The filing also reveals that the purchase was aimed at maximizing returns and diversifying its cash on hand.
Tesla owns 42,902 BTC, amounting to around 1.4 billion USD and 0.204% of BTC’s 21 million supply cap at the time of writing.
Galaxy Digital Holdings
Galaxy Digital Holdings is a crypto-focused merchant bank and investment company aiming to institutionalize the digital asset and blockchain space. They provide asset management as well as investing, advisory, and trading services.
Galaxy Digital Holdings owns 16,400 BTC, amounting to just under 540 million USD and 0.078% of Bitcoin’s 21 million supply cap at the time of writing.
Richest Bitcoin addresses
If you think that the companies holding BTC have a lot, wait until you take a look at some of the richest Bitcoin addresses in the world:
|BTC Address||# of BTC||USD value (at time of writing)||% of coins|
|34xp4vRoCGJym3xR7yCVPFHoCNxv4Twseo||299,427 BTC||9,850,549,446.00 USD||1.60%|
|bc1qgdjqv0av3q56jvd82tkdjpy7gdp9ut8tlqmgrpmv24sq90ecnvqqjwvw97||163,011 BTC||5,362,735,878.00 USD||0.8693%|
|1P5ZEDWTKTFGxQjZphgWPQUpe554WKDfHQ||115,613 BTC||3,803,436,474.00 USD||0.6166%|
|35hK24tcLEWcgNA4JxpvbkNkoAcDGqQPsP||103,452 BTC||3,403,363,896.00 USD||0.5517%|
|37XuVSEpWW4trkfmvWzegTHQt7BdktSKUs||94,505 BTC||3,109,025,490.00 USD||0.5040%|
|38UmuUqPCrFmQo4khkomQwZ4VbY2nZMJ67||85,064 BTC||2,798,435,472.00 USD||0.4536%|
|1FeexV6bAHb8ybZjqQMjJrcCrHGW9sb6uF||79,957 BTC||2,630,425,386.00 USD||0.4264%|
|3LYJfcfHPXYJreMsASk2jkn69LWEYKzexb||73,601 BTC||2,421,325,698.00 USD||0.3925%|
|bc1qa5wkgaew2dkv56kfvj49j0av5nml45x9ek9hz6||69,370 BTC||2,282,134,260.00 USD||0.3700%|
|3Kzh9qAqVWQhEsfQz7zEQL1EuSx5tyNLNS||65,001 BTC||2,138,402,898.00 USD||0.3466%|
We know that these addresses just look like random strings of numbers and letters, but wow these wallets seem to be filled to the brim with BTC.
The future of Bitcoin
These are the whales that dwell alongside us in this vast ocean—should we be afraid? Who knows? There’s a lot more to figure out, but one thing’s for sure: these Bitcoin whales saw the value of BTC long before we did.
With over 12 years under its belt, Bitcoin has finally reached the mainstream—everyone knows about it, but not everyone knows how to use it.
We’ve talked a bit before about how BTC can be a great store of value and maybe these Bitcoin whales just saw it first. But now, more people are starting to see it as well and BTC is beginning to transcend its investment purposes.
Bitcoin is beginning to develop real-use cases such as more efficient means of payment, sending cheaper remittances, and even wealth preservation.
As all these Bitcoin whales get behind BTC, it may be signaling the movement of the digital asset revolution. Right now, it’s unclear when Bitcoin will reach mass adoption status, but we can take it as a sign that it has caught the eye of some of the biggest companies and most influential people on the planet.
Some of us may think it’s too late, but we’re here to tell you that it’s not. Adoption is growing but it’s moving slowly and the revolution has just begun.