Here's Why Peter Thiel Called Warren Buffett a 'Sociopathic Grandpa'

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  • Peter Thiel hits out at Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, and Larry Fink at Bitcoin 2022 in Miami.
  • Thiel named Buffett as Bitcoin's enemy No. 1.
  • Extreme views are part and parcel of cryptocurrency. Do your own research and make your own decisions.

Peter Thiel delivered a no-holes-barred speech.

Peter Thiel launched an unexpected tirade at this year's Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami. The billionaire investor and entrepreneur is no stranger to controversy, not least because he "straddles the worlds of Silicon Valley and conservative politics," as The Washington Post neatly puts it.

Thiel, one of the co-founders of Paypal, stepped down from the board of Meta (formerly Facebook) earlier this year. His Founders Fund venture-capital firm reportedly started buying Bitcoin in 2017, though the crypto enthusiast still said last year that he felt he was underinvested.

Peter Thiel lambasts 'finance gerontocracy'

Thiel's wide-ranging speech lasted about 20 minutes and tackled various issues. These included the potential of Bitcoin (BTC), why it's not achieving that potential, and the way we value money -- which he illustrated by throwing $100 bills into the crowd.

Thiel argued that Bitcoin is like a canary in a mine, warning us of what's coming. "It is telling us that the central banks are bankrupt," he said. "We are at the end of the fiat money regime." Thiel then considered the question of why Bitcoin has not grown faster, particularly what's holding it back. At this point, he put up a list of Bitcoin's enemies, naming Warren Buffett as enemy No. 1.

Buffett is an old school investor who compared Bitcoin to rat poison. He prefers productive assets, such as stocks or real estate, and says he sticks to things he understands. Labeling Buffett "the sociopathic Grandpa from Omaha," Thiel accused him of institutional bias and said Bitcoin could undermine traditional investment firms.

"There's always a sense if you're a money manager, you want to pretend that it's complicated to invest," he said. Thiel argued if all you have to do is buy Bitcoin, money managers would be out of business. He suggested that people should think of it as a political question, rather than one of Bitcoin's technical or innovative credentials.

Buffett wasn't the only old-school investor who attracted Thiel’s ire. J.P. Morgan's CEO Jamie Dimon and BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink also came under fire. He criticized Dimon for his "New-York City banker bias," and Fink for seeing the benefits of blockchain in general rather than Bitcoin specifically. "Pro-blockchain is an anti-Bitcoin term," Thiel said.

Thiel sees these three as emblematic of a "finance gerontocracy" which he pits against a "revolutionary youth movement." He ended his fairly inflammatory speech by urging the audience to go out and take over the world.

What investors can take from Thiel's comments

Bitcoin has long inspired extreme views and controversy. Some successful investors like Mark Cuban have become devoted crypto evangelists while others, like Buffett, have steered clear of crypto investing entirely. One side believes Bitcoin's value could exceed $1 million and the other believes the market might collapse completely.

If you are considering buying Bitcoin, it's wise to understand both viewpoints so you can make an informed decision. Take your time to research what Bitcoin does and what might affect its price going forward. There's a lot we don't know about how the industry will evolve, particularly how regulation will impact it.

READ MORE: Top Crypto Apps and Exchanges

Ultimately, everybody's financial situation is different and very few of us are billionaire investors like Thiel and Buffett. No two people will have the same tolerance to risk, disposable income, or investment priorities. All of these are important factors when deciding whether -- or how much -- to invest.

Sure, Thiel has made various successful tech investments. But Buffett's track record of picking stocks that performed well in the long term is not to be sniffed at either. The two simply follow different investment strategies. The trick is finding the wisdom in each approach and applying it to your own situation.

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