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Investors are in the game to make money. They chase yield around the world, looking for ways to generate higher returns than everyone else. And it turns out, even with the stock market rising to all-time highs and Bitcoin suffering another pullback, investing in cryptocurrency very early on was still a brilliant strategy.

  • Bitcoin blows away any other investment considered in our chart. If you had invested $100 ten years ago, you’d have $9.2M today.
  • Amazon’s stock is the top performer out of the 10 biggest companies, coming in at $3.3K.
  • Only 3 other companies generate returns above $1,000, including Apple ($2.4K), Visa ($1.7K) and Microsoft ($1K).
  • Alibaba’s stock performed the worst in our analysis, barely doubling an initial investment of $100 to $208.

We plotted the stock prices according to Yahoo Finance for the 10 largest companies measured by market capitalization. We found the stock prices as of January 2, 2009 with the exceptions of Bitcoin, Facebook and Alibaba, which weren’t public yet. In these situations, we assumed $100 was invested as soon as possible. We compared these numbers to the market price on December 3, 2019, excluding stock splits and dividends. This lets you easily see Bitcoin’s dominance over the last several years.

Total Return (%) on an Initial $100 Investment 10 Years Ago

1. Bitcoin: 9,150,088%
2. Amazon: 3,156%
3. Apple: 2,345%
4. Visa: 1,597%
5. Microsoft: 899%
6. JP Morgan: 433%
7. Facebook: 420%
8. Berkshire Hathaway: 228%
9. Johnson & Johnson: 216%
10. Walmart: 171%
11. Alibaba: 108%

Even with Bitcoin’s latest price implosion, the cryptocurrency has still created an astonishing 9,150,088% return. Other companies like Amazon (+3,156%) and Apple (+2,345%) are still impressive, but nothing truly compares to the king of the crypto world.

There’s no doubt Bitcoin's price has fluctuated dramatically over the last 2 years, reaching almost $20,000 in December 2017 before imploding below $3,500 in November 2018. It now trades at $7,475 as of this writing, down from almost $12,000 in August this year. Sometimes stock prices for individual companies can change substantially too. For example, GE’s price fell off a cliff over the last 3 years, dropping from about $30 in late 2016 to about $10 today. But that’s a notable exception, and not as fast moving compared to Bitcoin. For the most part, stock market prices for individual companies aren’t so volatile, especially ones with predictable business models and multi-billion dollar market capitalizations.

Bitcoin has received its fair share of negative attention despite its performance. Jim Cramer lampooned the cryptocurrency as “Monopoly money,” predicting it would get “annihilated.” Jamie Dimon famously called Bitcoin a “fraud” before his bank started investing in blockchain technology. And a major study accused Bitfinex of intentionally manipulating the entire Bitcoin market, thereby swindling investors of their money.

That means Bitcoin’s rise and fall (and then another rise and mini-fall) are not for the faint of heart. Are you investing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies? Why do you favor crypto assets as opposed to individual stocks of companies?

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