“Down Infinite”: A clumsy attempt to rehabilitate Do Kwon’s image

Do Kwon, the disgraced co-founder of the Terra blockchain, gave his first public interview since his highly publicized stablecoin, UST, exploded, taking with it some $45 billion in investments and savings. There have been many heartbreaking tales of small investors facing financial difficulties and salacious tales of major crypto institutions betting big on Terra and losing in its wake.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Kwon has spoken publicly. He frequently posts on Twitter his new blockchain, his legacy, his family. But this is the first example of a long interview that could offer the full facet of his story.

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The interview follows a long line of media events where sullied and obsessed personalities atone for bad decisions, offer explanations and, on rare occasions, share the kind of wisdom one has only gleaned from being “bad.” “. I say it’s possible because Coinage, the new media startup producing the two-part series, has so far failed to deliver on its promise.

Bigger than Terra is the story of Kwon, a (formerly) multi-billion dollar network that has attracted investors big and small to participate in the decentralized dream of an economy built around a synthetic dollar. Its implosion shook the crypto industry, contributing to a contagion event that took down several prominent companies and is still being felt.

It will go down in the history books as an example of mass delusion, in economics textbooks for its irrational exuberance, and likely in crypto legal lore as a fraud. It also represents some of the confusion about the future of crypto: how can a project with such a clear mission, a compelling leader, and widespread adoption fail so spectacularly?

The series seems designed to resurrect Kwon’s tainted image. In a 30-minute interview, filmed over two days, ex-Yahoo Finance Zack Guzman asks Kwon questions such as ‘Are you an Elizabeth Holmes’, did lawyers advise him not to speak to the press , and is it “fair” to say that the UST was worthless from the start.

See also: Do Kwon: ‘I’m Heartbroken’ Over UST Pain

This is not to slap Guzman for asking obvious questions. It helps to take a compassionate approach to interviewing even discredited people and getting them out. It is also helpful to listen to Kwon in a non-adversarial setting. But if you’re looking for information on what happened to Terraform’s massive bitcoin (BTC) treasury or why Kwon withdrew money from the Curve pool, a move that preceded the collapse of the Terra network, you’ll have to continue. to dig.

What a voice ?

Coinage’s chosen slogan, “Down Infinite”, is a soundbite by Kwon. It’s a perfect fit for a show that presents Kwon’s point of view uncritically. Not only is Kwon’s story written in his own words, but also literally the voice of the publication. It’s also a joke Kwon has told before – and one that seemingly sheds light on the real damage he’s done to real people.

Indeed, not much in the first episode could be considered new. There are some interesting facts – Kwon more or less confirmed that he was involved in the failure of the algorithmic stablecoin Basis Cash, he denied shorting Terra, he alleges that there may have been a “mole at Terraform Labs and he said he had “never” been in contact with South Korean investigators – but no revelations.

Kwon takes responsibility for Terra’s failure. He said it was an outcome he never predicted and that his overconfidence was “super irrational”. The project consumed his life. He named his daughter Luna and said he was working to make her a name she could be proud of.

There are times when he looks directly at the camera, as if to directly apologize to those he has hurt. It is impossible to know what is going on in Kwon’s head. Like he said, looking at a project that made him a billionaire, that put him on magazine covers, that was one of the fastest growing crypto projects ever to explode is not the “type of experience” most people have had.

But it’s hard to say that Kwon fully expresses his guilt in the first episode, even when he takes responsibility for it. He is asked what he thinks of a police raid as part of a Terra investigation at the home of his former colleague Daniel Shin, with whom he founded the payment network Chai in Korea. Kwon has a “default answer”.

Kwon is not unsympathetic or even hesitant. But there are times when he breaks eye contact, when he seems to be looking for others to share the burden. He blames an older version of himself, an “alter ego” who was pompous and said things he shouldn’t have said, who may have mocked Terra critics as a way to willfully and deliberately mislead investors.

Even so, Terra’s failure seems like an expensive way to learn that “you can’t be emotional about markets, you can’t blame people for shorting, you can’t treat people wrong. ‘fools for their desire’.

little buzz

So far, the series has generated little buzz. The first part garnered a hair of over 23,000 views on YouTube. And it seems only a few hundred people were willing to pay the transaction fee to mint its associated non-fungible token (NFT) to enter Discord.

Much of the public conversation surrounding the series has focused on Terraform Labs being an investor in Coinage, which inevitably raises questions of journalistic independence. (Coinage is also part of “web3-focused production hub” Trustless Media, which raised a $3.25 million seed round from investors including Sam Bankman-Fried and Ava Labs.)

Guzman, a Harvard graduate, wrote a Twitter feed where he exposed his journalistic ethics. Although there is a “conflict of interest”, the series is not meant to be objective, but a way to explain the technical world of crypto to the general public.

Guzman was also an investor in UST and LUNA, which lost. He said in the interview that “a friend of the family” committed suicide after Terra collapsed. There is a long and endless debate in the crypto media about whether journalists should own the assets they cover, given the potential for bias or the potential to significantly move these illiquid markets.

Guzman starts from the view that his direct experience will inform history. But I would ask, where is the legitimate anger in this case?

See also: UST’s Do Kwon and the Human Cost of Lunatic Pride | Opinion

In the end, it’s unclear whether this interview helps viewers understand Kwon or hides him further. It’s certainly not the only play to make him a spectacle or a character, and perhaps Guzman is right in saying, “This is not a court.” It’s possible that the interview is just a mirror image of the crypto industry, which, to its credit and fault, seems to readily accept and welcome former fraudsters.

There’s hope that Kwon’s next interview with industry legend Cobie will be more informative. There’s also hope that the second part of Tales of Kwon presented by Coinage will take on a decidedly different tone. But if this is the pilot of a promised media empire, you might consider the company just another in a series of tragic Kwon mistakes.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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