Bitcoin (BTC) at $250,000 in four years? With the price under $7,000 for much of the past couple of months, it’s difficult to imagine.

But blockchain investor Tim Draper told an audience of several hundred investors and entrepreneurs at the Crypto Invest Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center Wednesday the cryptocurrency would hit that threshold.

“I only make one prediction, bitcoin at $250,000 by 2022,” Draper said.

Draper, whose Draper Associates venture capital firm is a big investor in crypto projects, sees blockchain as transformative because it intersects with other tech mega-trends.

“It’s one of the most exciting times in the history of the world,” Draper said. “With the advent of bitcoin and all the associated technologies, and you apply that to big data where you have deep learning and [artificial intelligence], you suddenly have a platform for industries that are in the trillions of dollars.”

He added that this combination was “opening up for some of the best entrepreneurial activity” that he’d ever seen.

The Crypto Invest Summit headlined the first Los Angeles Blockchain week, a six-day series of conferences and meetings. The summit’s third and final day featured Draper, Pantera Capital founder and Chief Executive Officer Dan Morehead, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, who is now the chief information officer at the blockchain reference project Everipedia, and Ami Ben-David, the co-founder of SPiCE VC, which focuses on the tokenization of assets on the blockchain. 

Banking on Blockchain

Draper spoke of blockchain’s particularly strong potential in banking, insurance, health care and government. “I’m looking for industries that are providing the worst service at the highest financial costs,” he said.

Regarding health care, he agrees blockchain would address privacy and control issues related to patient data and streamline cumbersome government processes.

“You can replace the entire bureaucracy with AI and smart contracts and the blockchain,” Draper said. “Think all of the things government does. Some are based on a piece of land but most of them are ethereal, virtual. That can be taken care of anywhere by anyone.”

He described tethering tokens to fiat currency “as a waste of effort.” If you want “political money, you use political money. If you want crypto money, you use that,” he said.

Draper said ease of use was blockchain’s primary challenge. “When you start easily paying at Starbuck’s, buying houses, and people don’t know the difference, that’s when you make that breakthrough,” he said.

During a taping of the CNBC Africa “Crypto Trader” program with Ran Neu-Ner, Morehead spoke of the importance of viewing blockchain as a long-term investment. His digital asset fund has been down more than 70 percent this year. “This is a multi-decade thing,” he told Neu-Ner.

He described the current bear cycle as “a great time to be investing.” He added that bitcoin is currently “a ‘buy one, get two’ sale.” 

What’s in a Name

Regarding Pantera’s well-publicized investment in Synthetic Minds, Morehead touted the firm’s technology, which was adapted from NASA, and said he liked the name. “The hardest thing is naming a company.”

In a morning chat, Wikipedia co-founder Sanger spoke of blockchain’s suitability for online reference publishing. The industry that Wikipedia pioneered has struggled with such issues as accuracy, fake news and control of information and the submission process. A lack of autonomy has discouraged potential users. Some people “could be working but are put off by the community,” Sanger said.

Sanger left Wikipedia shortly after its founding because he felt it had loosened its standards and veered from its original mission. His latest project, Everipedia, which moves part of Wikipedia’s entries onto the blockchain, uses its IQ tokens as incentives for individuals to write and edit articles accurately and fairly. Sanger said that users can also lose tokens for contributions that an Everipedia community finds lacking.

He believes that “decentralization will become crucial to having meaningful global partnership of a lot of publishers.”

James Rubin
James Rubin has covered a range of business topics for such publications as the Economist Intelligence Unit, Forbes Insights and Adweek. His papers have been presented at World Economic Forum events. He was an associate editor at TheStreet and is the author of the "Urban Cyclist's Survival Guide."