Bitcoin’s Price Surge Is Creating Billionaires Overnight. And Then Bringing Them Back to Earth

December 14, 2017, 11:34 AM UTC

The skyrocketing price of cryptocurrencies had one very happy customer in Michael Poutre this week.

Poutre, CEO and one-fifth owner of unknown company Crypto Co., briefly became one of the world’s richest billionaires—on paper at least.

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On Monday, the company hit a high of $3.9 billion, performing better than bitcoin. Its market value, in turn, jumped to $12.6 billion, which is equal to the 381st biggest member of the S&P 500, reports The Wall Street Journal. That market value made Poutre one of the richest people in America, but only on paper, and only briefly. By Tuesday the share price crumbled, only to partially bounce back on Wednesday.

Crypto Co. started trading through the reverse takeover of a sports bra designer this summer, but no trading took place until September and the share price was stagnant at one cent. Last week, the company’s stock surged and its market value jumped to $2.9 billion—a remarkable feat for a company that had been languishing in relative obscurity.

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While the company’s sudden growth is significant, it is also a reflection of growing bitcoin fever, whereby desperate investors are trying to get their hands on anything crypto-related. Crypto Co. hopes to build a business servicing cryptocurrencies, and The Journal notes that the company opened a trading floor last week and is creating a crypto price index similar to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But with 80% of the company’s shares still in the hands of Poutre and his co-founders, there is still minimal trading actually taking place.