- A Tesla board member with an appetite for cryptocurrency may be behind the company’s bitcoin investment.
- Antonio Gracias is the director of two cryptocurrency companies through his investment firm.
- Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase helped the cryptocurrency cruise to record highs.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
A Tesla board member with stakes in several cryptocurrency companies may have been part of the automaker’s recent purchase of $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin.
Antonio Gracias, a director since 2007, is one of four members on Tesla’s audit committee that approved the investment, helping send the cryptocurrency to record highs above $50,000 this week.
Gracias also happens to be the director of two cryptocurrency companies, as well as the founder of a firm that has a history of investing in digital currencies. He holds 15 board and advisor roles across several different companies, according to Pitchbook’s database. Gracias is a director of two companies that operate in the cryptocurrency space – ErisX and BitGo – through his investment firm Valor Equity Partners.
ErisX is a digital currency exchange platform, while BitGo works as a wallet service for businesses. BitGo supports bitcoin, as well as over 200 digital tokens.
Tesla and Gracias did not respond in time to confirm whether the board member chose to excuse Gracias from the company’s bitcoin purchase, though his signature appears on Tesla’s regulatory filing that revealed the purchase. His involvement could result in allegations of a conflict of interest, the Telegraph first reported, though no complaints have yet been lodged against him or the company.
Gracias has a long history with Tesla, dating back over a decade. Gracias began investing in the electric carmaker in 2005 – just two years after the company launched. He plans to leave the board this year.
Tesla’s bitcoin investment carried several risks, including the volatility of digital currencies. In its filing, Tesla said it had weighed the risks of tying the company to cryptocurrencies before making the purchase.
Tesla investor Ron Baron said Tesla’s investment is “not surprising,” especially considering Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long been a supporter of bitcoin.
Musk has often influenced surges in the digital currency’s value. In January, bitcoin surged 15% after Musk put #bitcoin in his Twitter bio.