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Bitcoin boom makes Aussie a billionaire for less than an hour

James Gilbert, president and largest shareholder California-based Crypto Co. — Image from thecryptocompany.comJames Gilbert, president and largest shareholder California-based Crypto Co. — Image from thecryptocompany.comMALIBU, Dec 8 — The cryptocurrency frenzy has minted another billionaire. For 45 minutes, at least.

James Gilbert, the president and largest shareholder of Malibu, California-based Crypto Co, held a US$1 billion (RM4.07 billion) stake yesterday after its stock surged as much as 83 per cent. The shares later retreated, paring the value of his holding to US$919 million as of 12.17pm in New York.

Crypto’s market value climbed to as much as US$3.04 billion, with just 5,360 shares changing hands in over-the-counter trading out of 19.6 million outstanding.

Gilbert’s stake increased six-fold in the past week as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continued to skyrocket. He and the company didn’t immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.

Crypto is investing in and trading digital assets, and developing source code for managing them, according to its regulatory filings. Gilbert, an Australian who previously co-founded startups including one acquired by LivingSocial Inc, helped launch Crypto in January.

The company had net assets of US$3.6 million as of Sept 30 and posted a US$1.5 million net loss in the third-quarter, according to a regulatory filing.

Gilbert isn’t alone. A run-up in ether, the digital money of the Ethereum blockchain, helped one unidentified crypto-trader turn US$55 million into US$283 million in a little more than a month earlier this year, at least on paper.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg over the genesis of Facebook Inc, said in 2013 that they had bought US$11 million worth of bitcoin. Earlier yesterday, that stake would have been worth about US$1.8 billion. — Bloomberg

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