Would a Clear Out of Crypto Moguls and Their Centralized Companies Be Good for the Digital Asset Class?
As more and more crypto companies face scrutiny – and some throw in the towel after a rough bear market - questions are being raised whether that could be a good thing for crypto after all.
Latest among the crypto entrepreneurs that are facing scrutiny now are Cameron and Taylor Winklevoss, the twins who founded Gemini exchange. The twins have been in the spotlight recently as a feud between them and fellow crypto entrepreneur Barry Silbert has unfolded over Gemini’s interest-paying “Earn” program.
The partner Gemini worked with for its Earn program was Genesis Global Capital, a subsidiary of Silbert’s Digital Currency Group (DCG). But when Genesis in November last year halted redemptions for its clients, Gemini’s clients also became unable to withdraw funds held on Gemini Earn.
According to a Bloomberg article from Tuesday, the twins – who earlier in January wrote an open letter to DCG’s board where they called for the board to sack Barry Silbert as the company’s CEO – are as much to blame for the situation as Silbert.
Per the article, Gemini employees had expressed concern about the exchange’s dependence on Silbert’s companues since 2021, but they were unable to find any other companies to work with. It added that Gemini had “plowed ahead” with Genesis as its partner even as other crypto lenders collapsed, and Silbert’s exposure to the insolvent crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital was made public.
At the same time, both Gemini and DCG subsidiary Genesis Global Capital have been charged with securities laws violations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), making the situation even more dire for both of them.
“The [SEC] today charged Genesis Global Capital, LLC and Gemini Trust Company, LLC for the unregistered offer and sale of securities to retail investors through the Gemini Earn crypto asset lending program,” the SEC wrote in a press release on January 12.
CZ vs SBF
Perhaps the highest profile collapse in crypto last year was the war of words that erupted between Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) and the disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).
The feud between the two, which started by CZ declaring on Twitter that he wanted to sell Binance’s holding of FTX tokens (FTT), culminated in the collapse of FTX and the arrest of SBF.
And with FTX and its founder now out of the picture, the crypto landscape is open for Binance to increase its dominance – if it can survive the current crypto winter.
Not surprisingly, Bankman-Fried has continued to blame Binance and CZ for the collapse of FTX, even after his downfall.
“[…] an extreme, quick, targeted crash precipitated by the CEO of Binance made Alameda insolvent,” Bankman-Fried wrote in a blog post earlier in January. He added that the contagion from Alameda then spread to FTX and other companies, causing them to go under as well.
“Crypto is not going away,” Novogratz says
Lastly, Mike Novogratz, the well-known former Wall Street banker-turned crypto entrepreneur, has also made headlines in recent days after he declared that the main focus for this year will be to “survive.”
Speaking on CNBC earlier this month, Novogratz called 2022 “a grand washout” for crypto. He added that with regulatory headwinds and a lack of a compelling narrative around crypto, 2023 should be seen as a “transition period” that companies need to try to survive.
However, with all the cleansing out of bad actors that has already happened in crypto, it is now a “pretty clean market,” according to Novogratz, who also added that "crypto is not going away."