Several of the centralised platforms that failed this year shared a youthful, bold, and arrogant leader whose outsized impact was not the result of superior intelligence or talent but rather of their enormous wealth and big Twitter followings. And each time, misplaced faith in their abilities led to terrible consequences.
We must reconsider our leadership priorities and abandon personality cults if crypto is to avoid future disasters of the same magnitude.
The crypto theatre on Twitter
Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) gained a reputation for being among the sector’s most powerful figures before FTX’s demise. He was involved in politics and constantly shared his thoughts on Web3 events.
However, his active participation in various Twitter fights was most noteworthy. After Chef Nomi abruptly halted work on the project, SBF first gained attention as the project’s replacement. As a result of his ensuing Twitter antics and the widespread promotion of FTX’s unstoppable success, he attracted more than a million followers.
Even when SBF’s popularity increased, he couldn’t stop shitposting and frequently conversing with other Twitter users who used abusive language.
SBF’s fondness for Twitter drama was key in bringing FTX’s bankruptcy to light. His most recent argument eventually caused the run on FTX’s deposits with CZ. Throughout the current situation, he continued to engage in attention-seeking behaviour, culminating in an odd string of cryptic tweets.
The loudest voices in the room
SBF is the most recent example of an industry person whose extremely visible Twitter presence resulted in a highly visible fall from grace, but he is by no means the first. Do Kwon and Su Zu were notorious trolls at the core of two major crashes earlier this year. Before Terra’s demise, Do Kwon made a notoriously brash series of tweets, and Su Zhu’s infamously evasive remarks during the 2021 bull run also didn’t age well.
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
— Bobby Ong (@bobbyong) November 10, 2022
There are a ton of tweeters who have used trolling and online spectacle to dominate the debate in their sector. Consider Jim Cramer and Ben Armstrong, also known as Bitboy, to mention a few more. They have a little army. And while many have been purged during the downtrend market, their successors are evolving into industry powerhouses who are too boisterous and important to be ignored.
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
— The Wolf Of All Streets (@scottmelker) November 18, 2022
It’s time to end the cults of personality.
So what is the answer? How can we recognise this personality type more accurately to prevent future suffering?
The crypto community must concentrate on platforms and leaders creating products that employ web3 projects to solve problems rather than creating cults of personality. It has to start listening to the wiser, more experienced voices, even if they are occasionally quieter, rather than just the loudest ones in the room. Additionally, we require more input from builders with a track record of providing users with genuine value.
The solution is ultimately within ourselves and with those whom our business chooses to lionise. Regardless of how many fans they have, we must learn how to recognise and assist developers in creating decentralised, transparent, safe, high-quality applications.