Did Facebook Buy Bitcoin? Rumored Crypto Earnings Call Announcement Fails to Materialize

Rumors that Facebook was going to announce an investment in Bitcoin were quashed on Wednesday after the social media giant made no mention of it in their first quarter 2021 earnings report.

It is unclear where the rumors started. Various social media users had referred to the alleged Bitcoin investment in the hours leading up to the report's publication.

Alistair Milne, CIO of the Altana Digital Currency Fund, claimed it was rumored that Facebook would announce Bitcoin holdings in its Q1 report in a tweet posted Tuesday.

RUMOUR: Facebook will annouce they hold #Bitcoin on their books when they release their quarterly results after trading closes tomorrow

— Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne) April 27, 2021

Milne later denied he had started the rumor and posted a screenshot of what appeared to be an email received on Tuesday morning from someone at Lansdowne Partners, a U.K.-based asset management firm, who claimed there was speculation Facebook would "announce BTC on their book." Newsweek has contacted Lansdowne Partners for comment.

Scott Melker, a cryptocurrency investor and podcast host with nearly 350,000 Twitter followers, wrote ahead of the Facebook earnings report: "There's speculation they will announce Bitcoin on their balance sheet. Not sure where this rumor started, but it's still only a rumor."

Facebook has their Q1 earnings call today at 2 pm EST. There’s speculation they will announce #Bitcoin on their balance sheet.

Not sure where this rumor started, but it is still only a rumor. https://t.co/qW39lDjaoR

— The Wolf Of All Streets (@scottmelker) April 28, 2021

In any case, Facebook did not disclose any Bitcoin investment in its first quarter earnings report. The price of Bitcoin appeared not to have moved much on the news. It dipped from about $55,800 on Wednesday afternoon to an early Thursday low of $53,650. It is currently down 1.4 percent on the day, and worth around $54,400.

Darren Parkin, reported for business newspaper CityAM, said the rumors were being touted as a potential endorsement of Bitcoin by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the world's biggest social media company.

Instead, Facebook's first quarter earnings report focused on a significant increase of 46 percent in advertising revenues from $17.4 billion in the first quarter of 2020 to $25.4 billion this year.

According to Facebook's CFO outlook commentary in the report, the company is "pleased" with its ad revenue growth but said it expects targeted adverts to be negatively affected in 2021 due to regulatory and platform changes, "notably the recently launched iOS 14.5 update, which we expect to begin having an impact in the second quarter."

Facebook stock closed at $307 on Wednesday afternoon, up 3.5 percent. In pre-market trading, it has jumped 8 percent to $331.

Facebook is planning to dabble in digital currencies, but the process has been drawn-out so far due to a rebrand and regulatory opposition. The platform aims to launch a pilot of a digital coin called Diem this year, the price of which will be tied to the U.S. dollar, CNBC reported this month, citing an anonymous source. It is being developed by the Switzerland-based Diem Association.

Newsweek has contacted Diem and Facebook for comment.

Meanwhile Bitcoin has surged in price this year as cryptocurrencies in general have gained increasing support from financial tech firms such as Visa and PayPal.

Electric car company Tesla, for instance, has started allowing customers to purchase a car using Bitcoin, its CEO Elon Musk announced last month.

Facebook logo on phone screen
A Facebook logo shown on a phone screen, pictured January 31, 2019 in Paris, France. The company has reported a significant ad revenue increase from Q1 2020. Chesnot/Getty