Bitwise CIO says BTC ETFs are huge success and 13F filings make him ‘incredibly bullish’


This week’s 13F filing revealed who is buying the spot Bitcoin ETFs and what their position size is, and while Bitwise Chief Investment Office Matt Hougan celebrated the success of the ETFs, he says there is a significant point that the media might miss that makes him even more bullish on the BTC ETFs. 

Hougan said that 563 professional investment firms have reported owning a combined $3.5 billion worth of Bitcoin ETFs. Hougan anticipates that these numbers could eventually surpass 700 firms with total assets under management nearing $5 billion.

Hougan’s guess was spot on, with the latest data from K33 Research revealing that more than 900 firms disclosed their spot Bitcoin ETF holdings.

In a May 16 post on X, Senior analyst at K33 Research Ventle Lunde shared the following chart saying,

“According to 13F reporting, 937 professional firms were invested in U.S. spot ETFs as of March 31. In comparison, gold ETFs had 95 professional firms invested in their first quarter (Bitwise).”

Unique owners of Bitcoin ETFs Q1. Source: K33 Research

Bloomberg Senior ETF analyst Eric Balchunas observed that the biggest ETFs have attracted the largest portion of institutional capital, with BlackRock’s IBIT attracting more than 400 holders.

Source: Eric Balchunas

While terming this a “huge success,” Hougan said,

“This is absolutely massive. For any financial advisor, family office, or institution wondering if they were the only one considering Bitcoin exposure, the answer is clear: You are not alone.”

However, the executive noted that with more than $50 billion in assets under management (AUM), professional investors own just 7-10% of the total investment, and K33 Research data reveals this share to be 18%.

Lunde’s X post explained,

“Retail owns a majority of the float. Professional investors held exposure of $11.06bn by the end of Q1, representing 18.7% of the BTC ETF AUM.”

Spot Bitcoin ETF AUM by cohort. Source: K33 Research

However, Hougan argued that media portrayal of the spot Bitcoin ETFs being “retail-driven” funds might overlook a critical emerging trend that leaves him “incredibly bullish” from the initial 13F filings.

The Bitwise CIO laid out a typical four-step investment trajectory observed among institutions, starting with a period of due diligence lasting 6-12 months of investment evaluation. The second step involves professionals making a small personal allocation before “exposing their investors to the market.” Eventually, this leads to more substantial platform-wide allocations across the entire client book, typically ranging from 1-5% of the portfolio, about six months after the initial allocation.

“This tells me that the allocations we see in recent 13F filings are just a down payment,” Hougan wrote.

Using Hightower Advisors as an example, Hougan explained that its current spot Bitcoin ETF allocation amounts to just 0.05% of its assets. However, if they were to follow the typical four-step investment process, a 1% allocation in time would equate to $1.2 billion from a single firm.

“Multiply that by the growing number of professional investors participating in the space, and you can begin to see what’s behind my enthusiasm.”