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The Tech Company Brief by Hackernoon: FTX, Binance, and the tale of betrayal and revenge

June 22, 2023

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Oh how the tables turn.

It was only last year that FTX’s former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (‘SBF’) was outed as a fraudster by competitor Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao (‘CZ’) for allegedly trying to stab his company in the back by getting in bedwith regulators and lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

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The ensuing drama and Twitter feud resulted in a winner-takes-all bloodbath that collapsed FTX and left Binance as the largest crypto exchange in the world and CZ with a reputation of someone you don’t want to trifle with. Now, it seems, Binance is charged with the same crimes that caused FTX’s downfall.

One of the reasons for FTX’s troubles were revelations that the company was co-mingling its customers’ funds with Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading firm co-founded and controlled by SBF. In fact, according to The New York Times, FTX came into existence specifically so SBF and his friends could funnel money from their cryptocurrency exchange into Alameda Research to make riskier and riskier trading bets. None of these high-risk, high-reward bets panned out, prompting Alameda to ‘borrow’ even more money from FTX in transactions not known to the broader public.

So when CZ decided that his company would exit its entire position in FTX’s native token FTT over liquidity concerns, the public announcement caused a bank run and CZ’s proclaiment became a self-fulfilling prophecy as FTX found itself unable to pay investors who were exiting their positions because it had been lending money to Alameda Research instead.

The whole thing has been documented to the moon and back, so we’re not going to bore you with the details, but one thing that caught our eye was a change in CZ’s approach to regulation. For a brief period, it seemed that CZ was going to bear the torch of regulation after SBF was no longer welcome by all the lawmakers he rubbed shoulders with.

Well, it seems CZ’s wish has come true because The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission has come knockin’ on Binance’s door and dragged world no. 2 Coinbase into the foray.

Last week, the U.S. regulator sued Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao for engaging in “an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.” In its lawsuit, the regulator further alleged that Binance artificially inflated its trading volumes, diverted customer funds, failed to restrict U.S. customers from its platform and misled investors about its market surveillance controls, Reuters reported.

A day later, it was Coinbase’s turn. In its lawsuit, the U.S. regulator said Coinbase had since at least 2019 made billions of dollars by operating as a middleman on crypto transactions, while evading disclosure requirements meant to protect investors.

Both exchanges have denied the allegations and plan to defend themselves in court, though that hasn’t stopped investors from panicking, with Coinbase and Binance each seeing more than $1 billion in negative net outflow in the first 24 hours since the lawsuits dropped.

Keeping the SEC allegations aside, at issue also seems to be whether cryptocurrency are securities. Binance and Coinbase argue that they are not and the SEC is overreaching with its jurisdiction in the crypto sphere, though experts believe the regulator, under the leadership of Gary Gensler, will continue to bring tokens to taskspecifically because it does not agree with that characterization.

So while the big guys duke it out in court, most of the smaller exchanges are expected to cave into pressure and collapse.

We’ll keep you updated as things play out. For now, Binance is seeing a massive increase in trending interest, ranking at the #4 spot on HackerNoon’s Tech Company Rankings.

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In Other News.. ūüďį

  • AMD is clawing back at Nvidia, looking to launch its own AI “superchip” to compete against Team Green, which already dominates the AI computing market with 80% to 95% of market share.
  • The UK will host the first major global summit on AI safety later this year.
  • Intel was unable to convince the German government to give it more subsidies for the currently in construction advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility near Magdeburg, Germany.
  • In an apparent FU to GoogleTwitter is refusing to pay its Google Cloud bills as its contract comes up for renewal this month, Platformer reports.
  • Reddit’s decision to charge exorbitant prices for third-party apps via its API is not sitting well with its userbase.

And that’s a wrap! Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your family and friends!

See y’all next week. PEACE! ‚ėģÔłŹ

‚ÄĒ Sheharyar Khan, Editor, Business Tech @ HackerNoon


This article was originally published by Sheharyar Khan on Hackernoon.

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