In brief

  • Tron has successfully applied for $2m in small business relief from the United States government.
  • The money was for salary protection, to shield US-based companies from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
  • Many US businesses have reported problems in accessing the aid.

Justin Sun’s Tron platform, which maintains the Tron blockchain, has received US government aid of more than $2 million in coronavirus relief, according to a post on the platform’s Chinese WeChat channel. 

The grant was for salary protection, which is available to US companies suffering from the effects of the coronavirus crisis, and the money does not need to be repaid, according to the post, published Tuesday. 

It was shared and translated by Matthew Graham, chief executive of Beijing-based blockchain investment firm Sino Global Capital.

Graham speculated that, in China, many people would have misinterpreted the award of the grant as an implicit endorsement of Tron from the US government. By some, it would even be interpreted as a savvy move.

But on Twitter the news was greeted with outrage

Many US businesses have so far encountered roadblocks getting federal assistance, and some questioned the grounds for awarding Tron emergency funding.

The US Federal Reserve has also been accused of propping up companies it had previously warned banks not to touch. Last week its Main Street Lending Program was expanded to allow more businesses to qualify for up to $600 billion in loans.

Some blockchain startups have been refused grants, including one that reportedly belongs to an Ethereum co-founder. 

We reached out to the Tron Foundation to ask about the grant, and will update if we get a reply.

Sun, known as Sun Yuchen in China, is thought to be worth some $200 million. He shifted Tron operations to San Francisco after Beijing banned all ICOs and local cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017 to keep a tighter rein on the financial system. 

His decentralized media empire also comprises live-streaming site DLive and US peer-to-peer file-sharing company, Bittorrent. He recently acquired Steemit Inc., the company that developed the Reddit-like forum, and plans to move Steemit onto Tron.

But Sun is also famed for grandiose announcements, and publicity stunts. Perhaps it’s too much to hope that this is just another of those. 

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