- Anthony Scaramucci: I haven’t talked to Ron Klain, or anybody in the Biden administration about crypto. I think it’s best for me to leave that out of our conversations, because I’m an investor and I’m obviously too biased.
When former White House Communications Director and the Founder of Skybridge Capital Anthony Scaramucci broke up with Trump publicly, he knew he was taking a risk. Before any prominent Republican openly said anything, Scaramucci was the first one to go out on a limb and voice his political discontent with the former President. His political move was met with harsh criticism within the Republican Party. Before long, GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was stamping out a Trumpesque statement against Scaramucci. Democrats stood on the sidelines, initially skeptical of his conversion into a fierce critic of the Commander in Chief. President Trump took things personally, the way he usually does, but went a step further by attacking Scaramucci’s family on Twitter. The rift between the two New Yorkers has kept escalating ever since. Though Trump is no longer in the Oval Office, Wall Street insiders still talk in awe about how Scaramucci dared to be political at a potential cost to his business.
“I did take a lot of risks, but my thing is, I love this country. I don’t care if it’s gonna cost me some money to speak my political mind,” Scaramucci told me, sitting in a leather chair in his office at Skybridge Capital in New York City. Casually dressed on Monday late afternoon in Manhattan, he began recollecting one of the most dramatic periods in American politics.
“Whether you liked Donald Trump’s personality or disliked Donald Trump’s personality, he was addressing a fundamental issue or flaw in our system, the United States. There is a very large portion of our population that is checked out of the system. They’ve grown disenfranchised with the establishment–the medical establishment, the political establishment, other establishments–and they think they’ve gotten an unfair deal. Donald Trump saw that.”
In hindsight, Scaramucci thought that Donald Trump would help improve that condition in America and make it better. “But he didn’t do that,” Scaramucci was definite. “What Trump did was he exploited that, and he made that worse.”
Flash forward to 2021, Scaramucci has admitted many times that he got it wrong about Trump, but he says that “it still doesn’t mean that there are things that Donald Trump was doing that weren’t things that we need to consider. The Abraham Accords as an example in the Middle East; I think was very good policy, and we need to have more of. The idea that we’ve got to get some of the regulations off the back of American business is something I would champion,” he said. “On the flip side,” he added, “all the hate mongering, the racial undertones, the American nativism, I think that’s nonsense, that really hurts the country.”
As the new chapter swung open for America, Scaramucci turned his attention to Skybridge Capital Bitcoin Fund and his flagship conference SALT, a global forum of ideas, where one can only get in with a ticket or by personal invitation. In September this year, to help spur revitalization efforts in the city, the SALT conference took place in New York City for the first time since its founding. On the agenda, most of the content was dedicated to cryptocurrency and decentralized finance. Scaramucci themed his conference around the most prominent crypto players in the United States, giving them a platform to present their ideas to the mainstream of the finance industry.
“I decided a year ago to go into Bitcoin. Those were trading in about $15,000 to $20,000 a coin, and right now [it’s] $63, 000. As you know, I wrote a book about it, because I want people in my world–who are not comfortable with Bitcoin, who are not comfortable with cryptocurrencies or the blockchain, to get some education about it,” he said.
In my interviews and conversations with the leading crypto players in the U.S., a common theme emerges: the need for regulations. President Trump and the Treasury of his administration were negative on Bitcoin. In his interview with Yahoo Finance, the former President did not have anything good to say about Bitcoin, expressing his love for the dollar as his currency of choice. But that’s the old generation. Crypto is young and poised to be the most important single cultural and economic shift in the near future. So, it’s interesting to see how the crypto game will unfold, especially since Mastercard is bringing cryptocurrency onto its network.
President Biden has not shared an opinion on crypto yet, at least not in public. Still, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s negative stance is that bitcoin is a “highly speculative asset.” She has questioned its legitimacy and stability.
Ron Klein was a speaker at SALT NY, and I wanted to know if Scaramucci was able to talk to him about crypto and the administration’s stance regarding the need for regulations.
“I haven’t talked to Ron Klain, or anybody in the administration about crypto. I think it’s best for me to leave that out of our conversations, because I’m an investor and I’m obviously too biased. I’ve never lobbied anybody for anything and I’m not going to start doing that now,” Scaramucci was definite.
Sharing his observation more broadly, Scaramucci told me that the United States “does not want to cede the mantle of crypto currencies, digital currencies and the blockchain to another nation. I think that the United States has decided that we need to be available for this business. Therefore, we need to appropriately regulate it as opposed to banning it. I think that’s going to happen,” he shared his predictions.
“President Trump and the Treasury of his administration were negative on Bitcoin. Yellen has expressed her negative views on Bitcoin. I think Chairman Jerome Powell has more or less said that you know, we’re not going to regulate it out of business,” he added. “I don’t know if Joe Biden has really opinionated anything on crypto at this point. I think he ceded that to the SEC Commissioner, Gary Gensler, and few others. I think they ultimately will regulate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. I don’t think they want to extricate. There’s a difference between regulate or extricate.” Recently, China made an aggressive ban on cryptocurrency, a step many American crypto investors and some members of Congress like Senator Pat Toomey see as an opportunity for the United States to lead the field.
“If you look at China’s system, you look at the autocracy, you look at the censorship embedded in the system, something as decentralized as cryptocurrency, that represents that much freedom–they would want to do away with that. You know, we can agree or disagree about their political philosophies or how they run their country. But once you understand the framework in which they’re running their country, you understand that they’re going to do everything they can to stop Bitcoin,” said Scaramucci.
“What I find so interesting is in this battle, all they keep saying is that they’re forbidding Bitcoin, and they have to say it every six months because it keeps creeping up into the system. After all, it’s so decentralized. It is sort of like water entering somebody’s basement after a heavy rain: it’s very hard to get rid of.”
Scaramucci is at the forefront of new developments in decentralized finance that will chart the course of crypto for many years to come. Whether or not and to what extent crypto and decentralized finance will replace the banking system is yet to be seen. “I would say that it’s probably not going to replace the banking system right at this moment. But I would say what’s going on in El Salvador is quite encouraging,” he said. “There’s over two and a half million wallets now. People that have converted some of their money into bitcoin, obviously are doing well because of the appreciation. There’s something called The Lightning Network that Jack Mallers is working on, that’s going to speed up the transactions per minute of Bitcoin. If that’s successful, I think Bitcoin does have a potential to become legal tender in other countries besides El Salvador,” he added.
As the world operates for the most part in a dollarized ecosystem, Scaramucci believes that inflation will likely affect the need for Bitcoin. “If you look at what’s going on with the U.S. dollar, we’ve increased the money supply by 42% in the last 18 months. The United States government is really producing a lot more dollars and is creating inflation. So, you know, you may see a situation where Bitcoin becomes the legal tender of other countries, and if that’s the case, the price per coin is going to go up a lot in U.S. dollars.”
As retold in The Sweet Life With Bitcoin, Scaramucci decided to set up the Bitcoin Fund when it became clear to him that there were over 100 million users of Bitcoin. He was convinced that Bitcoin was going to go up in value a lot and didn’t want his clients to miss it. “Obviously, I have a lot of personal money in Bitcoin. Why I did that is I believe that Bitcoin is going to be a big part of our future. And so I don’t want my clients to miss it, I don’t want them because they’re scared, or they’re used to old ways.”
Scaramucci finds Bitcoin equivalent to encouraging people in the 1920s to have a telephone in their house. “It’s coming, it’s going to be part of the future, whether you like it or not.”
Scaramucci is old enough to remember Bill Gates’ wrong predictions about the internet. “He didn’t believe in the growth of the internet. He got it wrong. The internet didn’t care that Bill Gates didn’t like it, it was going to happen with or without him. So, ultimately, he had to make an adjustment and build his business around the internet, as we all did. Bitcoin is happening. Whether we like it or not, it’s gonna be part of our universe.”
Along with bitcoin, NFTs, a type of cryptocurrency that allows ownership of digital products, are becoming hot and entering the mainstream at a rapid speed. One of the first luxury fashion brands to introduce the NFT concept was Dolce and Gabbana. Recently the Italian duo sold an NFT, The Impossible Tiara, a digital piece of jewelry which does not exist in a physical form.
Last month, Scaramucci announced the creation of FlatterNFT.com, a new NFT site, with a focus on unique experiences. “It is not just about purchasing digital art, or purchasing something on the internet that’s scarce. We wanted to create something people would experience, and so our first set of NFTs were related to the SALT conference. We offered people the opportunity to buy an NFT that would give them access to our next conference, and then we gave out a whiskey bottle as a gift for those. Those are basically sold now,” Scaramucci said. The proceeds of that went to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which Scaramucci is on the board of.
“Our next NFT project is related to Andrea Bocelli. I’m doing a concert at my restaurant in NYC, the Hunt & Fish Club, for Andrea on December 13, 2021. So, if you buy the NFT, it gets you access to the concert and also that money’s going to Andrea’s foundation,” he exclusively revealed.
As early voting starts and New Yorkers head to the polls to elect the next Mayor of New York City, Scaramucci and Mike Bloomberg have endorsed a Democratic nominee Eric Adams. “New York will no longer be anti-business,” said Adams last month on the SALT stage to a welcoming applause from the New York business community. “Eric Adams is, I would say, a moderate Democrat,” Scaramucci told me. “We live in a democratic state [New York]. And this is by and large, a democratic city. It’s really hard for Republicans to win here. So I’m looking for somebody that has some level of common sense, you know, and that would be Eric Adams. And so I asked him to come to SALT. And he accepted my invitation, which I was very happy about. I have a very good relationship with him and his staff,” he revealed.
“I’m a New Yorker. I’m not moving to Florida, I’m not moving to Texas, I’m not going to another state. I’m a New Yorker, my office and my business is here in New York, and I expect to be here for the rest of my life,” said Anthony Scaramucci.
When Ron Klein showed up for a speech at the closing session of SALT NY, everyone in the media wanted Biden’s chief of staff to comment on his appearance as if it was Klein’s first time at the Scaramucci’s forum. “He has been to SALT before. He actually came in 2019,” Scaramucci told me. “President Biden was at SALT in 2017, as the former Vice President. I had dinner with him at SALT and we had a good time together,” Scaramucci recollected. “We get along well. His family and my family are from the same hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. My dad grew up about 10 miles from where Joe Biden was born. I have a good rapport with him,” Scaramucci spoke of his relationship with Joe Biden. “And obviously, you know, there were a few other players in the administration at SALT NY, not cabinet-level people, but they were other people from the administration there. Because by and large, I have a good relationship with those guys. And so, you know, and again, I’m a Republican, I’ve maintained my status as a Republican. But I think we’ve got to get off of this whole left and right nonsense and focus on what’s right or wrong,” Scaramucci said of political polarization.
The next SALT conference will likely happen in New York City and will feature the themes consistent with what’s happening in the world. Next year, in line with the congressional midterms, there will be many guests from the political arena.
—Will you invite the Republicans? I wanted to know.
“I’ll also invite the Republicans although the Republicans are mad at me because I call bullshit on them,” Scaramucci was blunt. His attitude, as he described it to me, is that he is trying to be “as inclusive as I can be to everybody, to the extent that I’m capable of being. People that want to hang out with us, great, and people that don’t want to hang out with us; that’s fine, too. I don’t get too riled up about it, you know, one way or the other.”
As Scaramucci’s business keeps growing, he breaks new frontiers. I wanted to know how he decides who to do the business with. He revealed that with time, he became more skeptical and now requires everyone to go through a background check to make sure they are who they say they are and did what they claimed to have done. Bursting with energy and always in a good mood, it’s curious where he derives the passion that keeps him going.
“I like doing this stuff. I like business. I like people. I like meeting new people. I like experiencing new things. SALT is about sharing. I was at the airport, and I was on the security line. And there was a guy behind me, he tapped me, and I looked back. And he said, ‘Anthony, I want to introduce myself, I’m so and so. And I just want to let you know that I went to your conference and raised $50 million for my new fund. And I’m now worth a billion dollars.‘ This was about five or six years ago, and to me, that’s a lot of psychic energy. I think there’s a karmic feedback loop to that, you know,” he said.
Anthony Scaramucci has made his own American dream at the heart of the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. While he can often be seen driving his brand new Lamborghini, to this day, he remains connected to his roots. “I live two miles from my parents, the middle class neighborhood I grew up in. I have a decent amount of money, but I don’t live like that. I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s not that I don’t enjoy good things,” he said, pausing for a moment. “I do have nice cars, and I go to fancy restaurants, but I don’t have to be a showboat. You know what I mean? It’s important for me to stay connected to people.”