In brief

  • Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn holds most of his wealth in cryptocurrency.
  • The Estonian engineer donated 350 Ethereum and 50 Bitcoin to UK-based firm Faculty AI in 2018–2020.
  • The company still holds on to most of the crypto it received from Tallinn.

Jaan Tallinn, an Estonian engineer who was one of the co-founders of Skype, is holding most of his personal wealth in cryptocurrency—and had been for some time now, according to an article published by Fortune on Friday.

Since Skype was sold to eBay for around $2.6 billion in 2005, Tallinn has not launched any new enterprises but has invested in many. One of them was Faculty AI, a London-based company focused on machine-learning systems, which received digital assets from Tallinn on at least two occasions.

Per the report, while Tallinn’s investment company Metaplanet Holdings backed Faculty in the past and holds around 9% of its shares, the Skype co-founder also gifted the UK firm thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency. In January 2018, Tallinn gave Faculty 350 Ethereum (ETH) (worth around $434,000 at the time and roughly $160,000 today).

Skype does online calls
The Skype logo on a mobile phone. Image: Shutterstock.

In March 2020, the engineer followed up with a 50 Bitcoin (BTC) gift—this one was worth about $316,000, according to Faculty’s public financial filings, but has surged to over $810,000 during the recent Bitcoin rally.

Since he holds most of his personal funds in crypto anyway, he told the outlet, it was much easier to invest that way. Selling the coins for cash would have incurred capital gains tax and reduced the amount of money Tallinn was able to give to Faculty.

In the end, the transfer proved to be much trickier for the UK firm itself since traditional bookkeeping is not entirely up to speed with the rapidly developing world of digital assets.

 “Our accountants had to go and find someone else who was working on crypto and how to do accounting for crypto,” Faculty’s founder and CEO Marc Warner told the outlet.

Since then, the company sold around $144,000 worth of Ethereum in 2019–2020 but reportedly held onto most of the crypto it received from Tallinn. While Ethereum is still far from its late 2017–early 2018 highs, Bitcoin’s price is certainly getting back there.


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