In brief

  • CoinMarketCap hosted a roast for its 7th anniversary, though it muted some replies and drowned out others.
  • The CEO of CoinMarketCap’s new parent company, Binance, even joined in, even if it was to roast the roasters.
  • Binance recently bought CoinMarketCap for $400 million.

To celebrate its 7th birthday, crypto price feed CoinMarketCap on May 1 asked everyone on Twitter to roast it. 

The campaign—perhaps by design and hardly original—brought to the fore concerns around the company; though it may be the most popular site for checking cryptocurrency prices, its reputation has been marred by a history of providing unreliable data and giving ad space to dubious projects. 

This birthday roast allowed CoinMarketCap to acknowledge its foibles and purge its bad reputation—after a $400 million acquisition by crypto exchange Binance, it was time to get its reputation into shape. 

To kick the party off, it tweeted bizarre and horrible things to famous people, some of whom took the bait and spat back even worse things in return. 

But, overwhelmed by the deluge of hate, CoinMarketCap briefly hid some of the most damning criticisms and buried others under a barrage of its own tweets. 

So hot it hurts

Roasters criticized CoinMarketCap’s history of publishing fake exchange data and providing space to “dubious advertisers,” such as Bitconnect, the multi-million dollar pyramid scheme that went bust just after the 2017 bull run. (CoinMarketCap, however, claims that it vets advertisers to ensure that they are “not a Ponzi scheme.”) 

CoinMarketCap briefly hid one roast: a tweet that claimed that the company was “listing scammy exchange[s].” It used a relatively new function that allows Twitter profiles to “hide” content they don’t like, rendering it invisible unless a viewer reveals it again by clicking a grey icon. It later un-hid the tweet. 

Roasters also voiced concerns about CoinMarketCaps’s recent acquisition by Binance, the world’s most popular crypto exchange, for $400 million in cash, Binance equity, and BNB tokens. The fears are that Binance could use CoinMarketCap to drive traffic to its exchange or to promote cryptocurrency projects it has a stake in. 

CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, used his “roast” to mock other roasters for placing excessive demands upon CoinMarketCap, which has only been under Binance’s control for “almost a month.” 

Zhao, who praised CoinMarketCap for its “integrity” and “transparency” in a press release marking the acquisition, is alleged to have a history of listing tokens with little discretion under an opaque pay-to-play system. 

Critics argue that Binance has listed—and offered leveraged trading for—coins with thin-to-little liquidity. The less liquid a coin, the easier it is for a whale to manipulate the market. For instance, when Binance listed the MATIC token, a meteoric rise in December of 2019 was followed by a double-digit loss.

When Binance was called out for charging incredibly high fees for token-listings, it backpedaled from this strategy and pledged funds to charity. CoinMarketCap and Binance, perhaps charred by their communities, did not manage to respond to additional questions from Decrypt by the time of publication.