Revisiting MicroStrategy's Pain Points as Bitcoin Tumbles

This week's plunge in the price of bitcoin again raises questions as to whether Michael Saylor will at some point be forced to sell some or all of his company's vast holdings.

AccessTimeIconNov 10, 2022 at 8:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 10, 2022 at 8:56 p.m. UTC
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Elizabeth Napolitano is a news reporter at CoinDesk.

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MicroStrategy (MSTR) Executive Chairman Michael Saylor told CNBC he’s not straying from his strategy of buying and holding bitcoin (BTC) despite the crypto’s plunge to a new two-year low this week.

Bitcoin's price tumbled below $16,000 Thursday in the wake of beleaguered crypto exchange FTX's collapse. Following a modest bounce on the release of U.S. consumer price index data Thursday morning, BTC is now hovering slightly above $17,000.

While acknowledging it’s been a “roller coaster,” the famed bitcoin bull said that bitcoin is 33% higher than when he first began buying in 2020, and that MicroStrategy’s stock is up 38% during that period – outperforming the major averages and such popular tech mega-cap names as Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN).

“Our shareholders are winning, and we're going to stick with that strategy because it's working for us,” he said.

Of course, MicroStrategy made many sizable subsequent purchases of bitcoin – some backed with large amounts of debt – after that first buy. It now holds more than 129,000 coins purchased at an average price of over $30,000. With bitcoin at around $17,000, questions are again arising as to whether MicroStrategy might have to be a forced seller despite Saylor’s continued bullishness.

It’s a question that was asked earlier this year on the company's first-quarter earnings call (with bitcoin at about $30,000), and then-outgoing Chief Financial Officer Phong Le suggested a price at or below $21,000 could serve as a trigger point for a margin call. Saylor, however, was quick to clarify those remarks, taking to Twitter to clearly delineate MicroStrategy's obligations in regard to its bitcoin-backed loans.

"MicroStrategy has a $205 million term loan and needs to maintain $410 million as collateral," he wrote. He further noted the company had more than 115,000 unencumbered bitcoin (then worth about $3 billion and today worth roughly $2 billion) with which it could pledge as needed. He did acknowledge that should the price fall below $3,562, the company would run out of bitcoin to use as collateral, but even then could post other assets.

"We're excited about bitcoin [because] it's something greater than all of us," said Saylor today. "We're actually buying into a protocol which is spreading all across the earth to solve a problem."

CORRECTION (Nov. 10 20:50 UTC): The U.S. consumer price index data was released Thursday morning.

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Elizabeth Napolitano is a news reporter at CoinDesk.


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Elizabeth Napolitano is a news reporter at CoinDesk.