Many of the centralized cryptocurrency platforms that collapsed this year had one thing in common: a young, outspoken and cocky leader. Each gained great influence, not based on excessive intellect or talent, but because of their piles of money and large Twitter followings. And each time, misplaced confidence in their abilities resulted in disastrous consequences.
If crypto wants to avoid similar disasters in the future, it’s time we rearranged our leadership priorities. We must abandon the cults of personality.
The theater of crypto on Twitter
Before FTX collapsed, founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) earned a reputation as one of the loudest voices in the industry. He was active in the political world and often commented on what was happening in Web3.
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But perhaps most notable was his active involvement in a host of Twitter feuds and spectacles. SBF first came into the limelight as the successor to SushiSwap after Chef Nomi abruptly abandoned the project — a drama that played out almost entirely on Twitter’s public stage. His subsequent Twitter antics, combined with the image of unstoppable success that FTX broadcast far and wide, earned him over a million followers.
But even as SBF’s influence grew, he just couldn’t seem to resist posting shit, often dealing with other Twitter users throwing 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 have continued through the current ordeal, culminating in a bizarre series of cryptic tweets.
The loudest voices in the room
While SBF is the latest example of an industry figure whose highly public Twitter presence led to a highly public downfall, he’s certainly not the first. Do Kwon and Su Zu, who were both at the center of monumental meltdowns 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 evasive comments during the 2021 bull run didn’t age well either.
At our company off site this week with all the drama happening. Debate who is the biggest 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 lenders
d) Alex Mashinsky – $2.8b missing deposits in Celsius
— Bobby Ong (@bobbyong) November 10, 2022
But the leaders of failed platforms aren’t the only ones guilty of social media braggadocio. After all, Binance’s CZ was just as guilty as SBF of engaging in their public Twitter feud earlier this month. Digital Currency Group’s Barry Silbert, who was at the center of alarm related to the FTX fallout, has also gained a reputation as a shitposter.
There are many, many more tweeters who have used online spectacle and trolling as a way to control the industry conversation. Think Ben Armstrong (aka “Bitboy”) and Jim Cramer, just to name a few more. There is a small army of them. And even as many are purged in every bear market, their successors are increasingly turning into powerhouses too vocal and influential to ignore in the space.
Jim Cramer said he sold all 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
— The Wolf of All Streets (@scottmelker) November 18, 2022
We must end the cult of personality
So what is 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 way that is orders of magnitude better than anything we’ve done before experienced. The crypto community needs to stop listening to the loudest voices in the room and start listening to the wiser, more experienced people – even if they are quieter at times. And at the same time, we need builders with experience in creating real value for users to talk more.
Ultimately, the answer lies with us and with the people we, as an industry, choose to lionize. We need to learn how to identify and support builders who build transparent, secure, high-quality apps and decentralized apps – regardless of how many followers they have.
Corey Wilton is the co-founder and CEO of Mirai Labs, the international game studio behind Pegaxy. A well-known speaker and thought leader to play, he started his first company within crypto in 2018, a customer service designed to help cryptocurrency companies with their customer service.
This article is for general informational purposes and is not intended to and should not be construed as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.