LONDON – Tim Draper was walking through a pavilion at a tech conference in Lisbon on Tuesday when he was cornered by an entrepreneur touting a new digital currency. No sooner had the venture capitalist heard the pitch than he was approached by another guy hawking his own initial coin offering. Another followed, then another.
It’s no mystery why cryptocurrency peddlers flocked to Draper. As founder of the Silicon Valley VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, he’s backed the likes of Hotmail, Skype and Tesla Inc., and said he fell in love with bitcoin not long after it was introduced in 2009. In February 2014, 40,000 of his bitcoins were stolen when Mt. Gox, a big cryptocurrency exchange in Japan, was hacked and went belly up. At the time, Draper was certain the scandal spelled the end of the bitcoin era.