OPINION: Justin Sun Is a Bad Actor
If you follow the cryptocurrency space you’re more than likely familiar with Justin Sun and his antics. But here’s a simple introduction to the ““crypto billionaire.””
Justin Sun, or Sun Yuchen (his real name), on face value, is a Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur who’s obsessed with his self-image and has gone from a no one in 2016 to a one-man powerhouse today.
Justin attended Peking University and then, according to him, got a masters degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania. After this he went to Jack Ma’s school for business. Again, on the surface, all the attributes and scholarly education of a soon-to-be billionaire. But Justin’s story gets shaky right out the gate.
Peiwo was a dating app, founded by Justin Sun and begun in 2014, that matched people based on a 10 second clip of their voice. After a match, they would get to know each other through chat, video, and audio, much like normal dating apps. However, Peiwo wasn’t your everyday Tinder or Bumble.
In China, where prostitution and porn are very illegal despite being rampant, Justin and Peiwo had stumbled upon a cash cow: they’d accidentally created a combination early OnlyFans and call service. Girls and women (the primary demographic according to Peiwo themselves was males and femlaes aged 16–24) would match up with dozens or hundreds of men and put on private strip shows, making hundreds of dollars an hour. Alternatively, they’d offer rates for meetups.
This quickly ran afoul of regulators in China, and if you search for the app you won’t find it — in the US or on the Mainland.
Now, if you’re anything like myself you probably believe that prostitution and porn aren’t necessarily the worst problems in the world. But when your demographic dips into teenagers, plus the app exists mainly within the confines of strict regulation, serious problems pile up fast. And so they did, and so Peiwo disappeared.
But not before Justin Sun became a brand ambassador for Ripple in China. Even when XRP started there were people calling it a completely centralized token that was likely to be termed an unregistered security, but that didn’t stop Justin Sun from traveling through China like the modern day cryptocurrency Confucius, spreading the good gospel of XRP.
If you hunt for mentions of XRP today on Justin’s Twitter or Weibo, you’ll find a mere handful of tweets — the team has gone out of their way to erase that part of his history and, despite his tacit approval of Ripple’s face-off against the SEC, he’s steered clear of donating money to their cause or reminding people of his rather large previous role within the company.
After bouncing around being a brand ambassador for an unregistered security for awhile, Justin decided it was time to start his own cryptocurrency: TRON (ticker symbol TRX on cryptocurrency exchanges). This was precisely when Justin went from occasionally making bad decisions to being pretty much a reckless sociopath.
The problem with TRON was simple: it was a stright up ctrl+c, ctrl+v of Ethereum, from the whitepaper to the code. Justin said this was a mistake: he meant no harm, they’d hired someone to translate the whitepaper and the individual had chosen to do a copy+paste job.
This was, in fact, not the truth. Much of the code had been copied as well, and Justin’s explanations were fraught with problems. He’d become the real-life Jian Yang:
If you’re rational or logical, you’d probably think that the cryptocurrency community would distance themselves from Justin at this point in time, but you’d be wrong. So wrong that the **exact opposite happened.**
TRON catapulted in price, reaching an unbelievable ~$0.23 and a marketcap of roughly $4 billion. And for what? Not much. At the time, there were few dApps (decentralized applications), TRON was Ethereum without the broad support, and the bright future that Justin constantly spoke of for his newly created cryptocurrency was hard for anyone else to imagine.
And that’s when Justin Sun, who’d been on an M&A spree, decided to make arguably still his biggest decision: he’d buy BitTorrent.
The move sparked widespread conversation, as despite being the largest source of torrents in the world, people were unsure how Justin planned on earning any money on this scheme. That became quite apparent when he introduced the “BTT” cryptocurrency — a token that would be native to BitTorrent.
Needless to say, this didn’t go down well at the time. Even Bram Cohen, the founder of BitTorrent claimed it would fail.
The transition only got murkier, with Cohen at one point publicly asking if Justin was broke:
Then, the ultimate faux pas.
In a ridiculous proof-of-wealth, Justin spent over $4 million to have lunch with Warren Buffett (with proceeds to go to charity). But that wasn’t the insane part. On the day of the lunch, with all eyes on Justin, he… cancelled. Without any notice and still sitting in his office in San Francisco, Justin let the public know that he wouldn’t be able to do the lunch because of “kidney stones.”
Looking pale faced and stressed out, Justin posted a picture with his bodyguard. Shortly after this, to the chagrin of TRON fans, he published an apology to the people and regulators of China for his actions, stating, “I deeply regret my excessive marketing and overhyping behaviour, and I would like to express my sincere apology to the public, the media, and the leaders and regulators who care about me.”
The lunch eventually happened, but not before more awfully questionable behavior reared its ugly head. A few honorable mentions include when he promised a Tesla to a random follower, only to accidentally show that it was rigged, then, after reneging on giving away the first Tesla, being forced to giveaway two, his numerous attacks on journalistic entities with his BFF and fellow cryptocurrency exchange CEO Changpeng Zhao, the reveal by Verge that he’s a horror to work for and treats employees like garbage, and his obvious payment for (unannounced) advertising from numerous celebrities:
Oh, and let’s not forget his endorsement of r/WallStreetBets **after** the collapse had begun: (this investment of $12 million is down roughly 75% as of this opinion piece)
This is where we are right now. Justin Sun, who’s only claim to fame is copying one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world and a giant list of bad decisions, is, at least on paper, a billionaire. I don’t know when this guy will end up behind bars, or, to be realistic, even if he will, but I’m getting unusually annoyed by his increasingly illegal escapades.
Stay skeptical, friends.