An ordinary day at a high-end car dealership in Dubai would be considered far from ordinary in any other metropolitan city. Buying luxury cars from showrooms in Dubai is commonplace and, considering the price point, buyers are often already decided on their purchase well before they step foot into the dealership.
Occasionally, some purchases can be regarded as extraordinary, making them memorable. The most common requests? Customization. Personalization. Making the car unique to the client, from custom wheels or paint jobs, to fully-loaded custom interiors. Dubai customers will pay handsomely to know their purchase reflects their own individuality, before signing the dotted line and zipping out of the parking lot.
Others, such as Khaled Mazeedi, take supercar ownership to a whole new level, with the latest addition to their supercar collections coming, not from traditional earnings from high-paying salaries, but from the massive margins on cryptocurrency trading. Mazeedi, a UAE-based crypto trader known as @Ten on Instagram purchased a Lamborghini with the proceeds earned from an initial bitcoin investment of just $5000 USD and in crypto-like fashion has made international headlines.
You read that right - a brand new Italian supercar for just five thousand US Dollars.
"I've been in this business long enough that nothing really surprises you," the general manager of Sanam Cars tells us of bitcoin buyers. When Mazeedi walked into my office with a Trezor crypto wallet in an envelope with the words 'Lamborghini Gallardo, paid in full' written on the front, the only thing you're thinking is...why didn't I get in on the action?"
So, how did he do it?
Mazeedi, a tech enthusiast and entrepreneur, studied mechanical engineering at Florida International University. His coursework excited him as a student, but his interest in digital currency, financial services, and tech entrepreneurship kept his mind engaged otherwise. Then, in 2015, a TechCrunch report detailing Bitcoin's volatile rise and fall caught his eye and subsequently set his plan to invest in cryptocurrency into motion: he started buying.
When Mazeedi first invested in 2015, a single bitcoin was valued at $250.88 USD. That might seem like a small amount considering that bitcoin's value is almost $13,000 USD at the time of this writing, and which could reach $20,000 by the end of the year. However, in July 2010, a single bitcoin was trading at approximately $0.08 USD. Investors entering the crypto trade years prior had already seen massive profit margins before Mazeedi was even planning his first move.
While Mazeedi won't disclose precisely how much Bitcoin he currently owns, he has stated that his initial investment involved the purchase of more than 1,000 BTC. Since then, he has had several days that net a profit of over $1 Million USD per day by trading exclusively in the crypto market - but he hasn't done it all on his own. He's brushed Louis Vuitton-clad shoulders and sat in decked-out cars with many influential people in the crypto trading and investment spaces. One such person is blockchain expert Moe Levin, notable for the claim 'BitCoin is a religion' in a CNBC interview and known for popularizing bitcoin in the mainstream media through hosting the world's largest Cryptocurrency Conferences.
The fast and the curious
So, we get it: @Ten makes money. A lot of money.
He networks with crypto elites, decks himself out in luxury brand clothes, and calls Dubai's most exclusive hotel and residence, the Palazzo Versace, home. From his Instagram feed, Mazeedi is unapologetic about sharing his fleet of supercars with his 2.3 million followers. But why luxury cars?
If you ask just about any cryptocurrency expert about how to best invest earnings from the crypto trade, you'll likely hear the term "HODL," internet slang for HOLD, aka - 'just hold onto it'. In the crypto domain, where most extreme purchases are frowned upon to show commitment to the long-term value of cryptocurrencies, there is one notable exception; supercars. According to a 2018 article in The New York Times, the cashing out of cryptocurrency positions is generally discouraged in the community, and real crypto profiteers are urged not to sell or show their wealth...unless it is by way of a flashy Lambo.
Though this "advice" might sound like a joke, it is taken quite seriously amongst crypto stars, and it's having an exciting impact on how dealerships are selling cars, as well. In December of 2018, when bitcoin trade value hit a high of $19,000 USD, used exotic car dealerships globally - but especially those in Dubai - saw a jump in cryptocurrency-involved sales. This drove many dealerships and private sellers to accept bitcoin through multiple third-party companies like BitPay, enabling transactions between a buyer holding cryptocurrency and a seller who wants US Dollars, for a 1% fee paid by the owner or dealership.
Of course, the passion for exotic cars is a welcome exception for Mazeedi- a bonafide car nut that has spent years shifting his position in the car community into high gear, by partnering with Automobili Lamborghini to build a global network of Lamborghini Clubs. In part, this is why his bitcoin splurge on a fresh Lambo made headlines in both exotic car communities and in the mainstream media.
Mazeedi's domination of the Lamborghini brand and his mysterious rise as a bitcoin personality raises one remark: Perhaps Vitalik Buterin is misplaced as the Icon in the meme? Mazeedi has no interest in such recognition.
To Lamborghini, and beyond
For Mazeedi, it's not all fast cars and tailor-made suits- he's diversifying into venture capital through several notable tech investments. When there's a niche that Mazeedi sees unfilled, he claims it, recently announcing his own startup, Bullion Debit: a financial company that offers anyone in the world the ability to convert their plastic debit or credit card into a personalized metal card.
When questioned about how others can view himself as a role model for investment and in learning crypto trading, Mazeedi gave a simple and straightforward answer:
"For me, it sends a powerful message, a new trend is being realised, where digital currencies can transition into the real world, turning dreams into reality."