By Billy Perrigo
December 14, 2017

The astronomical rise in the price of Bitcoin briefly turned a little-known former stock market trader into one of the richest people in America.

Michael Poutre, the CEO and owner of a fifth of the shares of Crypto Company, was briefly worth $3.9 billion on paper on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reports, as bitcoin’s rise helped rocket his company’s stock price to $642 per share. The company says it provides consultation, platforms and infrastructure to businesses interested in digital currencies.

But then share prices tumbled by 75% on Tuesday, and rallied to just over $312 per share on Wednesday. In a private deal hinting at the value of the company, Poutre disclosed on Wednesday he had sold shares to “accredited investors” at just $7 each, a 97% discount on Tuesday’s market price, Bloomberg reports. The company’s stock is still doing far better than it was at the beginning of December, as investors rush to buy into anything related to cryptocurrency.

“It certainly seems to be a reflection of the interest in this space,” Poutre told the Journal of his rise. “One of the reasons we went public was to give the average investor access to this space in a way all can understand.”

Poutre was suspended from trading for two years and fined $5,000 in 2010 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, though he has tried to have his record expunged. He has since been involved in several small businesses.

The price of Bitcoin was hovering around $16,500 on Thursday, up from under $1,000 at the start of the year. It hit an all-time high of $17,580 on Tuesday.

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