Millionaire at 18 and bankrupt at 22: the financial “influencer” who embodies the danger of investing in cryptocurrencies

Millionaire at 18 and bankrupt at 22: the financial “influencer” who embodies the danger of investing in cryptocurrencies

It’s one of those tales of mad rise and spectacular fall that are especially gripping in the United States. A proud upstart who beardlessly found a shortcut to getting rich, had the luxury of showing off his impressive nose and teaching Business Entrepreneurship 2.0, and his fortune, amassed at lightning speed, vanished during the cryptocurrency crash. that occurred last spring.

The novelty of this case is that Kiarash Hossainpour is not giving up. It may be that, as Scott Fitzgerald said, American lives have no second acts, that in the land of opportunity there is no redemption worth having when doom has occurred. But Hossainpour is not an American, but a German of Iranian origin. For him not even the heaviest defeat is irreversible. He’s culturally programmed to get off the mat and keep fighting.

Hence the optimistic speech he’s returning with these days after suffering losses of between 60% and 90% (the versions differ) on his digital asset portfolio. Speaking to the German edition of Business Insider, this 22-year-old shark boy, a trashy Wall Street wolf to his harshest critics, assured that he will continue to invest in bitcoin and firmly believes in the medium-term future of cryptocurrencies. “Having losses,” he says, “is part of the game.” It’s a character test.

He belongs to a generation whose demographic is more than used to the capricious volatility of money. At first he had very little, almost nothing. Then in five years of precocious and frenetic activity he got a lot to lose almost everything in one fell swoop. And now it keeps “something”. Enough to learn from the experience, to heal their wounds and keep investing, keep paddling.

Quick lessons on speculative investing

Hossainpour adds that he is only “relatively” concerned about the collapse of his digital assets as he has no thoughts of selling them. He sees himself as a “strategic investor,” one of those people who don’t succumb to “sudden panic attacks” because they always have their high beams on. “I have not sold in moments of uncontrolled boom, and I certainly will not sell in a full decline.” Among other things, because he believes that the storm is about to abate and changes of course in full turbulence would be typical for captain candidates. And he sees himself more as a fearless pioneer.

Followers and those interested in the cryptocurrency market line up to listen to Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, ahead of a conference at the WizinkCenter in Madrid.Followers and those interested in the cryptocurrency market line up to listen to Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, ahead of a conference at the WizinkCenter in Madrid

Bitcoin is trading at $25,000 per unit today, a far cry from the $67,205 it hit in November 2021. In fact, it remains the most stable of all the cryptocurrencies that Hossainpour has invested in, the one that has depreciated the least. The real lethal bite on his finances came from Luna, the cryptocurrency he bet on on his YouTube channel just a few months ago and last May with messianic fervor, in journalist Antonio Fernández Serrano’s graphic idiom, “stopped the Orbitar” by losing 99% of its price.

What happened? Hossainpour blames the “incompetence” of the team that launched the currency for the disaster. He admits, yes, that he didn’t see it coming. For once, the sense of smell that he amassed and that allowed him to garner hundreds of thousands of followers on his financial advice channels on social media has atrophied. Because the young German is not only a seasoned investor, but also a guru, an influencer. Or, to put it in the words of American stock market adviser and radio host Clark Howard, “an irresponsible person who has bankrupted thousands of the unwary”.

The Forge of a Kamikaze Entrepreneur

Kiarash Hossainpour was born in Berlin in 1999 to an Iranian family (he prefers to speak “Persian”) who had fled to Germany to escape the rigors of the Islamic revolution. His father, a computer scientist, gave him his first computer when he was 10 years old. With the entrepreneurial instinct that characterizes him, little Kiarash started betting on sports, but his father, “an upstanding man, a little bit old school,” forbade him strictly: “If you want the computer to serve you , you get money, learn to program first”. And he did.

Largely self-taught, like many first-generation cryptocurrency tycoons, he was introduced to the gaming scene and launched his first YouTube channel at the age of 13. He soon wanted to go beyond offering online tips for completing Grand Theft Auto levels. He began to devote himself to designing custom websites in WordPress, a job for which he asked “barely $30 a page” and in 2014, in a day that, as he himself declared on his social networks, “he will never forget because it changed my life,” he received his first payment in bitcoins.

That sent his brain into orbit. A new currency, 100% virtual, somewhat clandestine, that could be minted at home to exchange with members of a community of technological entrepreneurs? At the age of 16, at the end of 2015, he dared to take the decisive step: he invested the almost 40,000 euros that he had earned with his other lines of business in bitcoins, his new fetish.

His parents asked him if it was legal, whether it was “real” money or a simple scam, but they put aside their reluctance once he accumulated his first million euros and showed them he could use them for items in the Internet could output real world. “My father comes from a very wealthy family that was impoverished by the revolution,” the would-be millionaire explained in an interview with investment site MoneyNow, “so maybe that’s why he doesn’t value money that much. He always told me that the most important thing for me is to be careful, to continue with my studies and not to lose sight that those millions are just numbers on a screen.”

At least numbers that Kiarash used as a hook to increase his fortune and sold himself as a success story here and there. Although his financial YouTube channel generally gave relatively sound advice (“Invest only what you have left, nothing to make a living or to meet your family’s needs”), the photos in which he co-carried Watches by Richard Mille or Audemars Piguet appeared just 20 years ago, driving a Rolls-Royce, a Porsche or a Lamborghini and smoking Cuban cigars told a completely different story. That of an unprejudiced young man who used his talent and impressive intuition to put his hand in the face of adult investors.

An example to follow?

As it got into full swing in the fall of 2021, when both Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies touched the skies, the international press began to take notice. David Thompson spoke of him in TechTimes magazine as a sort of post-adolescent King Midas, a man “touched by the magic wand of success in every area that comes up” and also willing “to share his experiences on social media”.

A miniature figure on top of a stack of coins representing bitcoins.A miniature figure on top of a stack of coins representing bitcoins Ruvic Dice (Portal)

His financial advice channel, Kyle Hoss, has been pitched as a “virtual school for future millionaires.” Arianna Rodriguez of the International Business Times described him as one of the few young Europeans to have achieved full financial independence by the age of 18 and the man behind “an influential network that shares knowledge, but not a trivial one, but a Kind of knowledge that is difficult to obtain and that makes a difference”.

Rodriguez’ article also states that Hossainpour was the son of a humble immigrant family that he raised out of trouble with the fruits of his investments, a detail that doesn’t quite fit with the story the prospect is making of his own life. . . But anything goes when it comes to telling a success story that can serve as a hook for future investors. And that was Hossainpour’s idyllic biography. a catch

For Ana Cristina Silva, finance professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, stories like this computer science Cinderella’s are anything but ideal. In fact, it seems to him to be a symptom of “how much the culture of quick enrichment has permeated the younger generations”. For her, “every endeavor requires a certain economic culture and, above all, a solid financial basis. Encouraging young people to invest in an area as speculative and volatile as cryptocurrencies, seducing them with supposed success stories is very irresponsible”.

Silva adds that a high percentage of his students “spend their life savings buying bitcoins and crypto assets of all kinds because they think they will get rich and most lose every last dollar”. From the perspective of the academic, “nothing could be further from the true culture of entrepreneurship, which requires training, discipline and values ​​first”.

For Hossainpour, these considerations of business ethics and fundamental financial culture would be completely alien. For him, entrepreneurship means above all taking risks and staying calm. He’s played all-to-everything in a perpetual head or tail that started when he was 14 and up until now it’s almost always been heads. Last spring’s great cross is just a passing cloud that will soon dissipate.

As he told Business Insider, “I have to admit I was wrong about Luna, I’m not infallible.” But he remains confident that time will prove him right and he’ll have every penny back very soon. The lives of Persian and German investors may well have second acts.

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