Given the recent news that Justin Sun’s public postponement/cancellation of his meeting with Warren Buffett may not have been due to “kidney stones”, but rather active criminal charges (money laundering) by the Chinese government as well as a travel restriction, Zerononcense has decided to take a look at Justin Sun’s actions throughout 2019 in an attempt to answer the following question:
“Is Justin Sun Tron’s Own Worst Enemy?”
Brief Review of Tron’s Dismal Price Action in 2019
The following analysis contains price information as recent as July 20th, 2019:
Blockchain market speculators and investors that have been following projects ranked in the top 20 (marketcap-wise), have more than likely observed Tron’s substantial price fluctuations throughout 2019.
What is noteworthy about Tron, in specific, is that despite the significant attention it has received in relation to other projects in the T20, its price action YTD has vastly underperformed its peers.
Below, are charts from OnchainFX that help provide a visual of Tron’s lagging price performance relative to its counterparts in the T20:
Let’s take a closer look at Tron’s price action YTD(as of July 20th, 2019):
The chart above shows us that, at the time of writing, Tron is down -47.44% in Bitcoin value.
Next, we’ll take a look at Tron’s fiat (USD) movements YTD.
Interestingly, there was a -50% drop in the price of Tron from the time that it announced a $20 million TRX buyback on June 25th, 2019:
Exploring Potential Reasons for Tron’s Poor Price Action in 2019 Relative to its Peers
Below are a list of potential reasons that Zerononcense has curated to attribute to Tron’s mediocre price action in 2019 thus far:
- Non-important Updates/News Releases
- Controversies surrounding/involving Justin Sun and/or the Tron project itself
- Lowered investor faith and confidence in Tron as a project (mostly due to the antics and controversies surrounding Justin Sun)
Before we look specifically at Tron, let’s start by exploring why Zerononcense hypothesizes that ‘non-important updates/news releases’ stemming from the Tron camp may play a role in Tron’s poor price action through 2019 to this point.
The Bar For What Qualifies as Meaningful News in the Cryptosphere Has Risen Significantly in 2019
Zerononcense has observed through independent research and study that news has not been a driver of price action in the same way it did in 2017.
During the 2017 “bull market”, news of mundane events such as a “new roadmap” or “new partnership” would be enough to push the price of a cryptoasset upwards — irrationally so, at times. However now it appears that such news is an insufficient driver of price action. This strongly indicates that the market is maturing in terms of its understanding of legitimacy, on a fundamental front, as well as its ability to gauge what should be considered substantial and what should simply be classified as ‘fodder’.
In order to prove this, we’re going to start by taking a look Tron, specifically, and their recent press releases and announcements.
Tron’s Announcements Throughout 2019 (YTD)
Thus far, in 2019, Tron has announced the following noteworthy events (this is not an exhaustive list by any means):
– Justin Sun forming a partnership with Binance via Bittorrent(https://medium.com/bittorrent/ask-me-anything-with-justin-sun-and-binance-recap-8d0aa94cc39).
– Justin Sun’s acquisition of Bittorrent and subsequent promises of integration into the Tron ecosystem to enhance the overall project(https://www.coindesk.com/tron-foundation-completes-acquisition-of-bittorrent).
– Tron’s announcement of a “Mainnet Upgrade” designed to “enhance security” and “convenience” on the protocol(https://cointelegraph.com/news/tron-announces-mainnet-upgrade-designed-to-enhance-security-and-co).
– Tron’s Announcement of the impending BitTorrent File System Protocol Integration endeavor (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tron-announces-bittorrent-file-system-protocol-300859208.html), which was Tron’s official signaling that they would be “throwing their hat” into the ring alongside other decentralized storage solutions in the crypto sphere.
Why the Aforementioned Announcements Have Not Had a Lasting Effect on the Price Action for Tron
There are a few reasons for why the announcements above have not had a lasting impact on the price action for Tron.
A few of these reasons are listed below:
- Justin Sun, the co-founder and figurehead of the Tron project, has been embroiled in significant controversy throughout the bulk of 2019, which has substantially reduced public faith in his leadership abilities.
- Justin Sun’s public image notwithstanding, he has become somewhat of a pariah in the crypto community, drawing criticism from several other very visible thought-leaders in the space such as: Charlie Lee, Jed McCaleb, Vitalik Buterin and others.
- Justin Sun’s marketing practices have been met with significant scorn by the crypto community.
- Some of the aforementioned announcements discussed above have been called into question by those that are either affiliated with subsidiary projects of Tron or Tron itself.
- The overall direction and narrative of the project has changed several times over the past year and a half, and the varying announcements, acquisitions, and general lack of concise, scheduled information by Tron leadership (Justin Sun) have left many confused about the project’s overall vision moving forward.
Below, we will take some time to discuss each of the bullet points listed above.
Point #1: Justin Sun Has Been Embroiled in Significant Controversy Throughout 2019 (and beforehand as well)
As noted above, one of the potential reasons for Tron’s failure to gain market much market momentum as projects like Chainlink may be the many controversies that have surrounded Justin Sun, in particular, as co-founder and figure of the Tron project.
Below is a short list and description of some of those controversies.
Justin Sun’s Marketing of Bittorrent’s IEO
Tron, which had acquired Bittorrent prior to the Initial Exchange Offering on Binance, led the marketing and promotional charge for the IEO — mainly behind Justin Sun’s efforts on social media. (Below is an example)
Thus, when users experienced a number of technical difficulties and errors when attempting to participate in the Initial Exchange Offering, the backlash was severe for Justin Sun, Tron, Binance and Changpeng Zhao; each of whom had been complicit in marketing the Initial Exchange Offering to the general public.
Point #2: Justin Sun Has Managed to Attract Significant Criticism in the Cryptosphere
Below are some examples of ‘tiffs’ that the Tron founder has had with other high-visibility figures in the crypto sphere:
- In the beginning of 2019, Stellar Lumens co-founder and former Mt. Gox exchange operator, Jed McCaleb, issued a scathing criticism of the Tron project in an interview, calling the project ‘garbage’.
- Charlie Lee, founder of Litecoin, has made numerous subtle jabs at Tron, starting with this tweet in January 2018.
- Vitalik Buterin and Justin Sun have had a longstanding feud with one another, with Vitalik throwing subtle jabs at the Tron project, such as the one captured in this tweet where Vitalik Buterin jokes that “20% of the blogpost was plagiarized” from Tron — alluding to accusations that Tron had plagiarized their entire whitepaper (yet another controversy/scandal that has embroiled the Tron community).
Point #3: Justin Sun’s Marketing Practices Have Attracted Significant Criticism
It is no secret that Justin Sun is a frequent user of social media. It is his preferred platform to release updates about the Tron project, address related issues and disclose other pertinent pieces of news.
While some have lauded these efforts as a primary cause for Tron’s elevated exposure level in the cryptospace, there has also been a significant amount of criticism of Justin Sun, with accusations being thrown such as: bought followers (against Twitter ToS), paying for interactions on social media posts (i.e., likes, retweets, favorites, etc.), antagonizing feuds with other high-profile members of the cryptocommunity for the sake of greater exposure, ‘gimmicky’ offerings/promotion/marketing tactics.
Zerononcense makes no assertion on the veracity of the above claims, they are merely being mentioned to provide a greater perspective of some of the criticisms that have been leveled against Justin Sun and how these perceptions may factor into the space’s overall opinion on the Tron cryptocurrency.
The above criticisms notwithstanding, however, some of Justin Sun’s most recent promotional efforts have caused a considerable amount of controversy.
Specifically, there are two major incidents that have occurred in 2019 that have drawn significant ire for Justin Sun and Tron.
- Tesla giveaway contest
- Liverpool FC partnership announcement
Tesla Giveaway Controversy
This saga started with an innocuous tweet by Justin Sun on March 12th, 2019, stating,
“To celebrate #BTT & #UST-#TRON success, I am planning a $20m free cash airdrop. Good news-it’s coming, bad news-I may decide to give away more! First, I will randomly pick 1 winner for a #Tesla up until 3/27! To apply, follow me and RT this tweet! Simple! #Blockchain”
The offering seems simple enough — although many have noted a failure to thoroughly outline how the co-founder/Tron would randomize the selection process.
The controversy, however, stems from posts by a Twitter user, named ‘@uzgaroth’, whom reported that they their Tesla award was rescinded, without cause, by Justin Sun and the Tron project.
This controversy was covered in Bloomberg and other internationally syndicated publications, drawing significant attention to the issue.
This report will not delve into the outcome of this saga, but the Bloomberg article linked above and the accompanying information should be enough of a lead for those that wish to chase that rabbit hole down to its conclusion.
Liverpool FC Partnership Announcement
On April 24th, 2019, Justin Sun wrote a tweet that read,
“Thank you for the unique and innovative innovation, Liverpool! I am impressed and I’m looking forward to exploring this #TRON new partnership together! @LFC #TRX $TRX #BTT $BTT”
The tweet, shown below, was accompanied with a video of an individual opening up a red package designed in the shape of an envelope with the words ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ underneath the Liverpool FC (soccer team if you’re in the United States) insignia.
Upon opening the package, a video within the package appears to autoplay, initially showing a logo of Liverpool FC and Tron:
A voice then begins talking on the screen with words that pop up as the narrator speaks.
Specifically, the narrator states, “We are Liverpool. This means more”, followed by an appearance by Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp:
The narrator then goes on to state, “This means more because you are associating yourself with a philosophy. A philosophy that says more about you than being part of any other football club.”
Quick Rebuffs by the Crypto Community
Journalists, crypto pundits, and other noteworthy figures in the cryptosphere were quick to state their skepticism surrounding Justin Sun’s tweet that seemingly claims that a formal partnership had been established between Liverpool FC and Tron.
Decrypt Media had reported shortly thereafter that they were able to get into contact with a Liverpool spokesperson, whom summarily debunked the claim that they were in any sort of a formal partnership with Tron, stating, “Liverpool Football Club has confirmed that it does not have a partnership with Tron.”
This incident was covered in full by CoinTelegraph as well. The article by CoinTelegraph also notes a tweet that was posted by Jesse Powell, co-founder of Kraken Exchange, in which he claimed that he had received a similar notice from Liverpool FC and implied that the offering was just a generic letter soliciting advertisement.
The letter that Jesse Powell posted is also shown below as well:
Point #4: “Wave Field” Community Scam
This most recent scandal involving Tron (excluding the most recent reports that have cropped up on July 22nd/23rd alleging that Justin Sun is under criminal investigation for money laundering by Chinese authorities) was thrust into the public spotlight on July 8th, 2019, when tweets from numerous different users showed individuals clashing with police at Raybo (Beijing) Technology Co. Ltd., in China.
Below is an example:
Initially, individuals had reported that Tron’s offices were being raided. This false assumption was most likely made because of the presence of police in several of the videos that hit social media.
It was later reported that a litany of investors had stormed Raybo (Beijing) Technology Co. Ltd.’s headquarters in order to voice their frustrations after being scammed by an entity going by the name of “Wave Field Super Community”. Notably, ‘Wave Field’ is the name used to refer to Tron in China.
It was reported that users were scammed out of approximately $20 million after contributing to this entity that claimed to be associated with the Tron project itself. Specifically, the ‘Wave Field Super Community’ had represented publicly that it was not only affiliated with Tron, it was also certain that it would be one of the 24 super nodes that would be elected on the protocol.
Reports claim that the scam essentially went on for months without any specific public denouncement of the fraudulent scheme or group by Justin Sun or other leadership members of the Tron community, specifically. Thus, users felt that Tron, as well as Justin Sun, were specifically negligent in their assumed responsibility to issue a public warning about a scam misrepresenting themselves as a member of the Tron community.
Wrap-Up: Justin Sun May Be Tron’s Worst Enemy
When evaluating all of the negative issues and bad press that Tron has received over the past year, it would not be unreasonable to assert that Justin Sun has been both Tron’s biggest advocate and its worst enemy.
Justin Sun’s marketing efforts have helped in bringing tremendous exposure to the Tron project. It appears that Justin Sun was the driving force behind helpful initiatives for the ecosystem such as:
- The acquisition of Bittorrent
- Developing a close relationship/partnership with Binance (they’re both registered at the same address in Malta, which has undoubtedly helped with these efforts as well)
- Pivoting Tron after being outed for a plagiarized whitepaper in 2018
- Going on a major hiring push toward the end of 2018 and at the beginning of 2019 as well
The positives that Justin Sun brings to the platform, however, seem to be largely outweighed by the negatives brought on by the various scandals, controversies, and negative attention that has been elicited through his actions, fair or not.
When juxtaposing the numerous issues surrounding Justin Sun and the Tron project that have occurred in just the last 12 or so months, it seems obvious that a change in strategy would be advisable for Justin Sun and Tron leadership if they are to ensure the success of the project in the long-term. Otherwise, the maximum upside for Tron as a project, community, and cryptocurrency will continue to decline accordingly.