Peter Briger on How Wall Street Got Into Bitcoin

Peter Briger, a principal in Fortress Investment Group, hosted a skiing trip in January 2013 in the Canadian Rockies. It was on that trip that an Argentinian startup whiz introduced Peter and his guests to the strange new world of Bitcoin — the world’s first cryptocurrency.

That Argentinian, Wences Casares, explained Bitcoin to Peter Briger and the financiers and entrepreneurs who were his guests. Although Bitcoin is conceptually simple and easy to use, understanding its implementations can be confusing. It’s helpful to have an experienced hand to explain the intricacies of Bitcoin’s implementation.

Peter Briger, a careful man, given to long pauses when considering new ideas, asked Casares pointed questions about the cryptocurrency, but it was clear he was warming to the idea of using Bitcoin to move money internationally. Briger’s interest was in its legitimate utility as a financial tool.

Peter Briger next did what smart men always do — he began picking the brains of other smart men with the goal of getting up to speed on Bitcoin. Arriving back in San Francisco he quickly set up an account at the infamous Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange, and soon established a small position in Bitcoin. He asked college friend and Goldman Sachs alumnus Dan Morehead to help Fortress explore the rapidly expanding varieties of cryptocurrencies. Morehead then set up a small office in Fortress’ San Francisco facility. Morehead hired traders to create a planned fund to help make Bitcoin available to big investors.

In the summer of 2013, Peter pitched the idea to Wells Fargo. They declined. Wells Fargo was nervous about the plan as the feds had seized the accounts of Mt. Gox traders who banked with Wells. But in the fall, in a Senate hearing on Bitcoin, some law enforcement officials opined that Bitcoin was a technology suited to legitimate purposes. Those hearings rekindled Wells Fargo’s interest in Bitcoin, and once again Wells and Fortress began to explore the possibilities. But alas, yet another Bitcoin-related scandal occurred, and both parties abandoned their plans. Dan Morehead subsequently moved his office out of Fortress Group’s San Francisco office.

Peter Briger earned his BA from Princeton University and his MBA from Wharton. Before coming to Fortress, Peter spent 15-years with Goldman Sachs where he became a partner in 1996. Peter is known for his expertise in Asian financial markets. In 2002 he founded and currently oversees Fortress Credit and its over 300 employees.

source: petebriger.com/

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