From Sam Bankman-Fried to Bitboy, cryptocurrency fans have been too quick to support divas who gained notoriety on social media. It’s a phenomenon that needs to end.
Many of the centralized cryptocurrency platforms that collapsed this year had something in common: a young, outspoken and cocky leader. Each gained outsized influence not by virtue of outsized intellect or talent but because of their piles of money and large Twitter followings. And each time, misplaced trust in their abilities resulted in disastrous consequences.
If crypto wants to avoid similar catastrophes in the future, it’s time for us to rearrange our leadership priorities. We need to ditch the cults of personality.
Before FTX collapsed, founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) had garnered a reputation as one of the loudest voices in the industry. He was active in the political world and frequently commented on what was happening in Web3.
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But perhaps most notable was his active involvement in a myriad of Twitter feuds and spectacles. SBF first stepped into the spotlight as the successor of SushiSwap after Chef Nomi abruptly abandoned the project — a drama that played out almost entirely on Twitter’s public stage. His ensuing Twitter antics, combined with the image of unstoppable success that FTX was broadcasting far and wide, gained him more than a million followers.
But even as SBF’s influence grew, it seemed he just couldn’t resist shitposting, regularly engaging with other Twitter users who threw stones.
Indeed, SBF’s penchant for Twitter drama played an important role in exposing FTX’s insolvency. It was his recent spat with CZ that ultimately led to the run on FTX’s deposits. His attention-grabbing antics carried on through the current ordeal, culminating in a bizarre series of cryptic tweets.
While SBF is the latest example of an industry figure whose highly public Twitter presence led to a highly public downfall, he certainly isn’t the first. Do Kwon and Su Zu, who were both at the center of monumental collapses earlier this year, were also notorious trolls. Do Kwon infamously sent an arrogant series of tweets just before Terra’s downfall, while Su Zhu’s infamously elusive comments during the 2021 bull run didn’t age well, either.
At our company offsite this week with all the drama happening. Debating who is the bigger villain in crypto:
a) Do Kwon – $58b loss from UST & LUNA
b) SBF – $10b missing deposits in FTX
c) Su Zhu – $3.5b loss from borrowers
d) Alex Mashinsky – $2.8b missing deposits in Celsius
But, the leaders of failed platforms aren’t the only ones guilty of social media braggadocio. Binance’s CZ, after all, was just as guilty as SBF of engaging in their public Twitter feud earlier this month. Digital Currency Group’s Barry Silbert, who has been at the center of alarm related to the FTX fallout, has also garnered a reputation as a shitposter.
There are many, many more tweeters who have used online spectacle and trolling as a means of controlling the industry conversation. Think Ben Armstrong (aka “Bitboy”) and Jim Cramer, to name just a couple more. There’s a small army of them. And, even though many are purged in each bear market, their successors are increasingly turning into powerhouses too vocal and influential to ignore in the space.
Jim Cramer said that he sold all of his crypto.
Then he blamed @APompliano for “putting him in” BlockFi.
So he… lied?
Now he’s on a crusade to blame anyone he can find for his own bad decisions, even “digital finance people,” which is literally a made up term. https://t.co/NTojFohvFQ
So what’s the solution? How can we better identify this personality type and use this recognition to avoid future pain?
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Instead of focusing on building cults of personality, the crypto community needs to focus on platforms and leaders building products that use web3 primitives to solve problems in a manner that’s orders of magnitude better than anything we’ve experienced before. The crypto community needs to stop listening to the loudest voices in the room and start listening to the wiser, more experienced ones — even if they are sometimes quieter. And by the same token, we need builders with experience in creating real value for users to speak up more.
Ultimately, the answer lies with us and with the people that we, as an industry, choose to lionize. We need to learn how to identify and support builders building transparent, secure, high-quality applications and decentralized applications — regardless of how many followers they have.
This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.