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Billionaire Alan Howard Makes a Bet on Cryptocurrencies

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Hedge fund billionaire Alan Howard made sizable personal investments in cryptocurrencies last year and plans to put more of his own money into digital assets and the blockchain technology behind them, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Other partners at the hedge fund firm he co-founded,

Brevan Howard Asset Management
, have independently made similar investments, the people said, asking not to be named because the information isn’t public. The investments are separate from the $9.1 billion hedge fund firm, and Brevan Howard does not trade cryptocurrencies, said the people.

Spokesmen for Howard and his company declined to comment on his trades.

Howard, 54, has already hired at least one person to work for him on initiatives in digital assets and plans to hire more. He could make private-equity style investments in blockchain companies and may participate in initial coin offerings, said the people.

QuickTake: All About Bitcoin and Blockchain

Howard’s interest in cryptocurrencies contrasts with the skepticism or hostility of many luminaries of finance, from

Jamie Dimon

Warren Buffett
. Bitcoin’s whipsaw ride over the past six months has thrust the risks of investing in one of the wildest and least-regulated corners of finance into the spotlight.

Cryptocurrencies do have some big-name enthusiasts, including former macro fund manager Mike Novogratz and billionaire investors

Mark Cuban

Peter Thiel

Brevan Howard’s flagship macro hedge fund recorded its

worst ever annual performance
last year. Like some other hedge funds betting on economic trends in developed markets, a lack of volatility amid years of central-bank stimulus made it difficult to make money.

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