Bitcoin hits record and its market value now tops big tech companies like Netflix, Paypal

Key Points
  • Bitcoin hit a record high above $4,500 Thursday, giving it a market value of about $74 billion.
  • That's larger than Netflix's $72.7 billion market capitalization.
  • Bitcoin has surged this month after an uneventful split into bitcoin and bitcoin cash.
Bitcoin's market value tops that of Netflix

climbed above $4,500 to a record high Thursday, giving it a market valuation larger than that of once high-flying technology stock Netflix.

The digital currency rose about 2 percent to a new high of $4,522.13 on Thursday, according to CoinDesk.

Bitcoin has a market value of about $74 billion, up $30 billion in August and topping Netflix's $72.7 billion market capitalization. Netflix shares Thursday were more than 1 percent lower amid a broader stock market decline. The stock traded nearly 13 percent below its all-time high hit July 21.

The video streaming stock along with Facebook, and Google's parent Alphabet are collectively known as "FANG" and have been U.S. stock market leaders in the last few years as investors bet on the transformative technologies. In 2015, Netflix and were the only S&P 500 stocks to double in price.

That said, bitcoin is not a stock and comparisons to other stocks' market value, especially major U.S. market gainers like Netflix, are more to illustrate the significant size of interest in the digital currency.

In addition, bitcoin's market value theoretically reflects interest in the potential for bitcoin to become a global means of payment.

At the very least, many digital currency enthusiasts expect bitcoin to become "digital gold." But gold's market value of about $7.5 trillion dwarfs that of bitcoin by 100 times.

At Thursday's record highs, bitcoin would rank 72nd by market value in the S&P 500 and 28th in the Dow Jones industrial average, just behind American Express' $78 billion market capitalization.

Bitcoin's market value also tops those of leaders in a variety of major industries, including software company Adobe, financial technology firm PayPal, investment giant BlackRock, industrial company Caterpillar and package shipping company FedEx.

To Ari Paul, chief investment officer of cryptocurrency investment firm BlockTower Capital, a better analogy is comparing bitcoin with PayPal's market capitalization.

"PayPal was initially created with a similar vision to bitcoin — as permissionless money," Paul said. "PayPal wasn't able to fulfill that vision, but bitcoin is well on the way. Bitcoin can be used to transfer $100 million anywhere in the world in 10 minutes and for less than $2. Bitcoin rising in value above PayPal reflects its growing role as the best way to move money globally."

Gartman: Avoid the bitcoin boom

However, the three other FANG stocks and Apple, which has the largest market capitalization at $824 billion, still each have market values far greater than that of bitcoin. General Electric, Chevron and MasterCard also have far larger market capitalizations than bitcoin.

Analysts said bitcoin's latest climb is a relief rally following the uneventful split of bitcoin into bitcoin and bitcoin cash earlier this month. Increased interest in bitcoin, especially from institutional investors, has helped the digital currency more than quadruple in price this year, analysts said.

Netflix shares hold gains of about 35 percent this year but have fallen about 8 percent in August after Disney announced last week it will pull its movies from the service and start its own streaming platforms.

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