Has crypto finally gotten its own tabloid? Consider the following headlines:
“John McAfee Building Cocaine Moonbase in Space to Flee IRS!”
“Dan Larimer Receives Guinness World Record for Most Crypto Exit Scams!”
“Mad King” Rune Christensen tries to Burn Down MakerDAO!”
Though we added the exclamation points for emphasis, the team behind Coin Jazeera published actual stories under that linkbait. The site, which launched just over a month ago and isn’t serious, of course.
Or is it?
With just a handful of stories like the above, Coin Jazeera has amassed 100,000 page views in its first month, according to SimilarWeb. It’s getting some buzz too, with high-profile endorsements from crypto figureheads, including pseudonymous Twitter account WhalePanda and Bitcoin maximalist Tone Vays.
And by the looks of things, it’s just getting started. Decrypt recently met with a few of the guys who created Coin Jazeera. They agreed to be interviewed as long as details about their identities were withheld.
The dudes claimed to be long-time Bitcoin and Ethereum investors, who are somewhat well-known in crypto. (We actually recognized one of them.) They witnessed the ICO boom and told us they were disheartened to see the space become beset by opportunists.
“We want to influence this industry to get back on the right track,” one of the co-founders said. “In 2017, this industry was plagued by scams. We don’t want 2017 to happen again—or if it does, at least for the right reasons.”
The purpose of the site, he said, however, is more obvious:“We just want to have a good time—and blast some people that needed to be blasted. We want to take them down a peg—and ourselves.”
The idea for the satirical news site had been floating around for a year before it turned into reality. The key stimulus, the co-founders said, was the aftermath of the 2017 ICO boom and the media presenting as legit a huge number of money grabs, which as it turned out, were often bought and paid for.
“We were tired of seeing the industry take itself so seriously. We thought satire would be a good vehicle to convey inconvenient truths in such a way that would be digestible.”
We did not anticipate it would blow up how it did at first.
The site has targeted a number of crypto notables, including Tron CEO Justin Sun. (It claimed he had been arrested and the “illegal Tron gambling network shut down.”) In a recent interview, Sun told Decrypt, “It’s hilarious. They said I have a cock-fighting circus at the Tron office. That [Binance CEO] CZ is my adopted dad. It’s crazy.”
But the news site is not just absurdist satire.
“Now we have a mission to correct the industry and fix the problems we see—and more importantly, bring awareness to what we see going on,” one of the co-founders said. “In a way, our satire website is sort of the truth.”
For instance, the site targeted crypto exchange Bitfinex and its notorious “74 percent-backed” stablecoin, Tether. But instead of just making fun of the whole thing, it contributed new information on the exchange’s banking history with Noble Bank and “Panama-based mafia bank” Crypto Capital.
Another article that raised eyebrows was its take down of BitMEX—a bitcoin futures exchange that Coin Jazeera claims is using its trading desk to trade against its own customers. So is there anything to that claim? Yes, according to this Medium post.
"People are shocked by our broad awareness of everything that’s going on,” said one of the co-founders. “We have a lot of knowledge because we’ve been in crypto a really long time. We use that knowledge to explain what currently happens.”
So, why did Bitcoin suddenly pump to $8,000 over the last week? Explain that.