"How I Made $1 Million On Bitcoin... And Lost It All Again"
"I got caught up in the hype. Then the bubble burst ...I kept thinking, there's no point selling now..."
Until 2016, I ran an advertising agency in London. At our peak, we were highly successful; I had a team of 35 people, a £3m turnover and a Covent Garden office. When the agency folded, I decided to invest in bitcoin.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a type of electronic cash that allows people to spend or trade via a peer-to-peer network without the involvement of banks or other intermediaries. It is a cheap, efficient way of transferring funds or holding value, which can be converted back into sterling at any time. I had used it before to buy treatment online for my mother after she was diagnosed with cancer. I had also dabbled with investing in it in 2013, and made and lost some money: bitcoin is prone to sudden fluctuations in value. But the market seemed to have moved on, and I decided it could be a good way to make some profit on my savings.
At first I deposited £5,000; at the time, January 2017, bitcoins were about $600, so I bought seven or eight and spent the rest on other cryptocurrencies. But over the next few weeks I became hooked and ploughed in a large chunk of money – £23,000 in all. I remember telling people, “I really think the value of bitcoin could rise to $2,000 this year.” I could never have predicted it would peak at 10 times that. By the middle of spring 2017, my investment had risen to about $300,000, and by the summer it was at half a million. Media interest in bitcoin was growing and friends kept asking how they could get into it, so I started a Facebook group, then a website and finally a podcast devoted to the subject. As excitement built, more and more people got involved, forming the conditions for a bubble; but many of us were too caught up in the hype to exercise caution.
At the end of 2017, bitcoin had reached almost $20,000 and my portfolio had ballooned to about $1.2m.
That is when I got a little out of control. I have always been an entrepreneur, and since I was a kid I had dreamed of buying my local football club, Bedford Town, becoming chairman and getting them into the league. I thought the project might cost £5m, so that was the figure I decided to aim for. I estimated I could get there within six months.