The 29 year-old Chinese cryptocurrency tycoon Justin Sun was supposed to be having lunch with Warren Buffett in San Francisco. Instead, the Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur canceled the meal, for which he had paid $4.6 million (AU$ 6.76 million), and apologized for his “excessive self-promotion.”
Why did he do that?
To Convert Buffett on Cryptos
Sun’s unexpected move underscores both China’s growing economic clout and its authorities’ ability to control over its business people. “The bidding stemmed from my admiration for Mr. Buffett and my commitment to philanthropy . . . and of course, my self-interest and the exterior motive of advocating for the blockchain industry,” Sun said in a long-form open letter posted on Weibo (Chinese Twitter), explaining why he paid millions of dollars to bid for a meal with the ‘Oracle of Omaha’.
“But my immaturity, hubris, blundering, and neglect of public responsibilities have produced unexpected consequences totally contrary to my original intentions . . . and triggered concerns from regulatory authorities,” he wrote.
Every year, Warren Buffett raises money for the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco-based charity that aids the poor and homeless, by offering an opportunity for the highest bidder to have lunch with him.
Sun, a 29-year-old who founded the cryptocurrency company Tron, won the auction in June with his record-high bid. Tron had an estimated market value of $10.2 billion earlier this year.
He planned to take four other cryptocurrency business leaders with him in an effort to convince Buffett, who once described bitcoin as “rat poison squared,” of the digital assets’ merits. But just days before the scheduled meal and barely a week before his 29th birthday, Sun announced he was suffering from kidney stones and would have to postpone the meal. Tron, which then had a market capitalization of $2.8 billion, immediately lost more than 20 percent of its value.
Buffett had agreed to reschedule, Sun’s Tron Foundation tweeted. Glide confirmed that it had received the money and that the contribution was “already transforming lives.” Sun’s announcement lit up Chinese social media, sparking speculation that he was variously under arrest or banned from leaving the country or otherwise in deep trouble with Chinese authorities. —-Edited from Washington Post
Justin Sun Grounded?
Adding fuel to the fire, one of China’s biggest financial newspaper —-21st Century Business Herald, reported that Sun was in trouble for illegal fund-raising through Tron. It said the Tron network had been facilitating illegal gambling services, adding that authorities suspected Sun’s earlier blockchain-based social-networking app PeiWo (meaning“be my company”) had been involved in the pornography business.
PeiWo has been taken offline. Weibo and WeChat users say that the app was full of pornographic content and advertisements for paid sex services but that Sun’s company did nothing about it until his plan to have lunch with Buffett was announced.
In his open letter in Chinese on Weibo later that day, Sun ate humble pie.
“I will take a hiatus to recover, post less on Weibo, receive no more visitors, and do fewer press interviews so that I can quit the habit of excessive self-promotion,” he wrote. He promised to return to developing blockchain technology and “set a better example for our younger generations!”—-Edited from Washington Post
A Kidney Stone and A PR Campaign
Are Chinese authorities preventing Tron CEO Justin Sun from leaving that country? Or is he in San Francisco healing from kidney stones, according to his PR team? According to Caixin, a reputable financial publication based in Beijing, Sun was being detained in Beijing Tuesday following reports from another business outlet, the 21st Century Business Herald, that Sun engaged in illegal fund-raising, gambling and porn.
But Sun, through his PR team, provided a “hashed” photograph, shown above, that appears to show him in San Francisco. And later in the day, he appeared to be livestreaming, via Periscope, from San Francisco, where the Bay Bridge was visible over his shoulder. Regardless of where he is, Sun has denied the Caixin report as “completely untrue.”
“I’m safe. When I recover, I will meet everyone. Didn’t mean to put you in worry!” Sun reportedly said via Weibo. Multiple sources have also told Decrypt that Sun is indeed in San Francisco recovering from kidney stones, as he claims.
Sun, who could not be directly reached for comment, has denied any wrongdoing via his Weibo account:
“The illegal fund-raise accusation is wrong,” he said, claiming that Tron has always complied with Chinese law ever since ICOs were banned there in the fall of 2017. Indeed, Sun said, “the Tron foundation is based in Singapore in compliance with local regulations and laws. … and does not involve any flow of capital, or any crypto or fiat currency onramp.”
Almost immediately after Sun’s announcement of the Buffett buffet postponement, stories began to crop up that the real reason Sun wasn’t able to make to San Francisco for his date with Buffett is that Sun may, in fact, be grounded in China.—edited from Yahoo Finance
Too Sick For Buffett But ‘Yes’ for the YouTuber’s Party
After postponing lunch Warren Buffett, due to ‘kidney stones’ and apologizing for over-marketing, Tron founder Justin Sun has been seen shortly hanging out with influencers and YouTubers at a party organized by Tron in San Francisco on Thursday as he aims to get back to work at ‘full speed’.
This particular event was apparently organized to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Tron’s acquisition of the major file-sharing platform, BitTorrent, while YouTubers had a chance to talk with people from the Tron Foundation. In a short interview during the event, Sun said that he is feeling better, and that he believes that the lunch with Buffett will be rescheduled.—-edited from cryptonews
Since the 2017 ICO ban, cryptocurrency has been regarded a controversial issue that was inevitably related to scams and illegal fund raising in China. We do not know if the news sources of Caixin and 21st Century Business Herald are reliable, but the influence of Sun’s cancellation to Warren Buffett would not make any favourable impression on the ‘Oracle of Omaha’. While the legalization and regulation remain a difficult challenge for Chinese authorities, blockchain technologies, along with Facebook’s Libra payment, are yet to find their application scenarios
among countless compliance dilemmas.
The hospitalized Sun is fighting more than his kidney stone.
Edited by Joreal Qian