On Wednesday morning, Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, announced the following in a Reddit post:
In the past days, I have sold and donated all my LTC.
The reason Charlie gave for his decision was laughable in the extreme. To wit, from the same post:
And whenever I tweet about Litecoin price or even just good or bads news, I get accused of doing it for personal benefit. Some people even think I short LTC! So in a sense, it is conflict of interest for me to hold LTC and tweet about it because I have so much influence.
Got that? Charlie is selling his entire position in the cryptocurrency he founded in order to free himself up to tweet about it with a clear conscience.
I don’t want to impugn Charlie by speculating on his motives, but you’d certainly be forgiven for suggesting that maybe his decision to sell had more to do with the fact that Litecoin is up more than 7,000% this year.
And speaking of his Twitter account, here’s what he tweeted less than two weeks ago:
For one thing, he spelled “rein” wrong, but if you get past that, do note that Lee suggested you shouldn’t buy Litecoin if you “can’t handle it dropping to $20.” Again, you’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe ol’ Charlie got to thinking about his own tweet. That is, one wonders if maybe he started thinking about whether he could “handle” Litecoin diving from $350 to $20 and upon deciding the answer was “no”, he sold.
And here’s the thing. If Charlie did sell simply to lock in his gains, you can hardly blame him. Think about the headlines that have emanated from the cryptoverse over the past several days.
There was newly public LongFin, which describes itself as “a leading global FinTech company powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning” and which soared some 2,500% after announcing it had “acquired” Ziddu.com, a site that “provides microlending services to importers and exporters in the form of Ethereum-linked Ziddu Coins collateralized by warehouse receipts.” As if that isn’t absurd enough on its own (i.e. it is by no means clear what the fuck that even means), the whole thing seems laughably incestuous as the CEO of LongFin (Venkat Meenavalli) also owns 95% of Meridian Enterprises, the private Singapore company from which Ziddu was acquired. Meenavalli would later participate in a truly bizarre interview with CNBC that found him literally shrieking at Melissa Lee who ultimately backed him into a corner. Finally, he conceded the following about LongFin:
This market cap is not justified. I valued my IPO pricing at $5. We are a profitable company [but] we have nothing to do with this euphoric mania. [The current market value] of the company is not a reality.
So that’s LongFin. And it turned out the market hadn’t seen anything yet. On Tuesday, the SEC stepped in to suspend trading in Crypto Company, whose shares skyrocketed thousands of percent over the past four or so weeks. One red flag there was the December 13 disclosure of a private placement that found accredited investors getting shares for $7 when the stock was trading at $223. And that’s not even the punchline. Crypto Company wasn’t always in the crypto business. It was born out of a reverse merger with a bra maker.
And lest you should forget about the original poster child for this mania, Riot Blockchain, they announced a secondaryon Tuesday, issuing 1.64 million restricted units at a purchase price of $22.50 each. Don’t let the history here be lost on you. This is a company which, just five years ago, was licensing “intellectual property relating to recombinant single chain reproductive hormone technology for use in non-human mammals,” and which, just 21 months ago, sold its headquarters only to rent space in the back and try to build another business based on “Enhanced Surface Plasmon Resonance technology,” and which, in the final act, decided to rename itself “Riot Blockchain” and go into the cryptocurrency business. The latest 8k lists a different address than what the company listed in the filing that detailed their transformation to a blockchain adopter. And it’s a good thing because the former address (834-F South Perry Street, Suite 443, Castle Rock, CO) matches that of a mailbox rental company called PostalAnnex that sits next to a Colorado Blimpie shop. Here is the actual location:
Now have a look at this chart which shows you the percentage gain for LongFin (purple), Riot (white), and a couple of other companies that have managed to rebrand themselves as blockchain enterprises:
Meanwhile, the cryptosphere itself seems to get more unpredictable by the day. On Tuesday evening, when whatever percentage of the cryptocurrency crowd that watches actual stocks was still trying to digest all of the above, Bitcoin suddenly flash crashed to $14,000.
That fleeting move to the downside represented a roughly 30% decline from where it was trading over the weekend prior to the CME futures launch. But the truly hilarious thing about it is that even at last night’s flash crash lows, it was still up something like 361% from the lows hit in September after Jamie Dimon called it a “fraud”:
Coming full circle, you certainly can’t blame Charlie Lee if the real motivation behind his decision to dump his Litecoin stake was rooted in a desire to free himself from this madness by converting the space tokens he created into actual, real money that, despite being maligned as worthless paper by the tinfoil hat crowd, isn’t likely to experience the equivalent of a Weimar hyperinflation four or five times a year out of the clear blue sky.
Explaining how he felt after selling, Lee said the following: “It’s weird and refreshing.”
Yes, “weird and refreshing.”
One can only imagine.