Updated to include comments from Nguyen at 17:15 GMT.
When self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor Craig Wright mobilized his attorneys against a Twitter user, Hodlonaut, who had dared to say that he, er, wasn’t the inventor of Bitcoin, the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance—one of the largest listing Craig Wright’s Bitcoin knockoff, Bitcoin SV—made a threat of his own.
“Craig Wright is not Satoshi,” wrote Changpeng Zhao on Twitter. “Anymore of this sh!t, we delist!”
Jimmy Nguyen, Wright's colleague at Bitcoin SV research firm nChain, appeared disturbed by Zhao's threat. "It is seriously troubling that the CEO of an exchange publicly threatens on social media to delist Bitcoin SV based upon his personal feelings about an individual supporter of BSV, and also based upon his personal belief of how Bitcoin SV’s emergence may have affected the price of another coin (BTC) he prefers," he said.
"Exchanges should be fair and neutral in how they provide online marketplaces for trading of Bitcoin and all other coins; they should not intentionally seek to manipulate the market for or against any asset."
Zhao's threat of a deplatforming could wreck SV's prospects. When the exchange delisted the SALT token on February 18, for instance, the token’s notional value plummeted instantly from $16.8 million to $14.7 million, gradually dwindling to $10.6 million by early March. (Though it’s seen a recent resurgence.) And when Binance delisted CLOAK around the same time, its market value halved. Save for a blip in late March, CLOAK has remained at its all time low.
But Bitcoin SV, whose price is currently $73, may yet survive a delisting. Unlike CLOAK, which is listed on a scant 20 exchanges, SV is listed on 134 other exchanges, among them Kraken, BitFinex, HitBTC, and Circle’s Poloniex. SALT, which took Binance’s beating better than CLOAK, is likely to have lasted because it too remains listed on several other large exchanges—including Bithumb and Huobi Global.
Still, Nguyen sees the threat as distinctly antithetical to the crypto ethos. "What Binance’s CEO has threatened against Bitcoin SV smacks of unfair and anticompetitive business practices, and should be scrutinized carefully by regulators," he said. "Exchanges should not act this way against any coin—whether it be BSV or another asset."
The drama began when Hodlonaut, the Twitter user at the heart of all the drama, was “served legal papers” by Wright after routinely calling him a fraud on Twitter. According to Bitcoin SV mouthpiece CoinGeek—not the most reliable source, we confess—Wright is also offering a $5,000 bounty to anybody able to identify Hodlonaut, and has directly encouraged online sleuths to identify the user by a photograph of him. It appears to have worked: SV followers have already doxxed Hodlonaut, who has closed his Twitter account.
The move sparked fury. Many on Crypto Twitter adopted the hashtag #WeAreAllHodlonaut, others changed their Twitter handles to Hodlonaut (the venerable Bitcoin Magazine became Hodlonaut Magazine), and yet more took the opportunity to mock Wright out(w)right.
“Hey @CalvinAyre,” wrote Riccardo Spagni, a lead developer for Monero. “Is it possible to get a 4-for-1 deal on those lawsuits so that the whole @magicalcrypto team can get sued together? That way we can sync up our lawsuit timing.”
We have reached out to Zhao for comment, and will update with any response.