The SEC just charged Justin Sun, the crypto CEO who bid $4.6 million on lunch with Warren Buffett, with fraud. Here's everything you need to know about him.
Justin Sun, who branded himself as a "crypto whiz kid," was charged by the SEC with fraud and other securities violations.
The CEO of Tron and BitTorrent first gained attention after winning a $4.6 million charity lunch with Warren Buffett.
Here's what you need to know about the 32-year-old crypto entrepreneur.
Sun grew up in a rural province of China.
According to reporting from The Verge, Sun left home at a young age to study the strategy game Go in Wuhan. The Verge, citing a former employee of Sun's, said he described his mother as a "tiger mom" and his father as a "penny-pincher."
Sun attended a business school founded by Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma.
Sun's oldest photo on Instagram shows him receiving a certificate from Ma. "Inspired by the best to shape the future for the better," the caption reads.
Sun was the youngest member of the inaugural class at Hupan University, a Chinese business school founded by Ma in 2015, according to the South China Morning Post. Ma recruited 30 students who he believed could revolutionize the Chinese business world. Sun wrote his thesis on the blockchain industry, titled "The Birth of a Decentralized Internet," SCMP said. He graduated from Hupan in 2018.
Sun attended a prestigious Ivy League school for graduate studies.
Sun graduated from Peking University with a bachelor's degree in history in 2011, according to his LinkedIn page. Peking is China's second-best university, according to Times Higher Education's World University Rankings. Two years later, Sun earned a master's degree in political economy from the University of Pennsylvania, one of eight prestigious US colleges that make up the Ivy League.
He began his career at a San Francisco-based crypto company.
Sun joined Ripple Labs as a chief representative and adviser in Greater China at the end of 2013, according to an older version of his LinkedIn page. He worked at the cryptocurrency startup — which has received backing from Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and other blue-chip investors — for just over two years.
Sun founded an app called Peiwo, which translates to "accompany me," that same year. The app aspired to become China's Snapchat and matched users by analyzing 10-second voice clips, according to Forbes. The app was ultimately kicked off both the Android and Apple app stores and banned from China for disrupting "socialist values," according to the Verge.
The app aspired to become China's Snapchat and matched users by analyzing 10-second voice clips, according to Forbes. The app was ultimately kicked off both the Android and Apple app stores and banned from China for disrupting "socialist values," according to the Verge.
In July 2017, he founded the blockchain company, Tron.
Tron is a blockchain company with its own cryptocurrency that is "dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet," his LinkedIn page states. Less than a year later, Tron acquired BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing service, for around $126 million, according to TechCrunch. Sun currently serves as CEO of Peiwo, Tron, and BitTorrent, now known as Rainberry.
Sun has a powerful presence on social media.
Sun has amassed 3.4 million Twitter followers. He's also posted pictures of himself posing with celebrities such as Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Forbes included Sun in its 30 under 30 Asia list in 2017, and in its 30 under 30 China list from 2015 to 2017, Sun wrote on his LinkedIn page.
He gained national attention for winning a charity auction lunch with Warren Buffett
In 2019, Sun bid $4.57 million on an eBay-sponsored charity lunch with Warren Buffett. Sun said he planned to use the meal to convert Buffett, a notorious skeptic of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, into a true believer. Buffett has said Bitcoin has "no unique value" and will ultimately become worthless, and derided it as a "delusion" and "rat poison squared."
Sun postponed the dinner with Buffett, citing kidney stones. However, the Verge reported that the lunch was initially canceled due to pressure from the Chinese government.
One year later, Sun had dinner with Buffett, inviting several key players in the crypto community.
Sun executed a full-court press on Buffett during their dinner in January 2020. He invited eToro founder and CEO Yoni Assia, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, and other crypto advocates to dine with them. He also gave Buffett a smartphone loaded with Bitcoin and Tron, although Buffett later said he doesn't own any cryptocurrencies.
Sun has engaged in attention-grabbing stunts.
Aside from Sun's winning bid for a meal with Buffett, he has engaged in other high-profile stunts, such as giving away free Teslas in Twitter sweepstakes and coming in second place in a record-breaking $69 million Christie's auction of an NFT by digital artist Beeple.
Sun has gained a reputation as a controversial figure.
After Sun announced he was rescheduling his lunch with Buffett, Chinese news outlet Caixin reported he was being held in China over accusations of illegal fundraising, gambling, money laundering, and pornography activities, citing a report by the 21st Century Business Herald.
Sun dismissed the allegations on Weibo and said he was being treated for kidney stones. "The illegal network fundraising was not true," he wrote in Mandarin, adding that Tron "actively cooperated" with authorities to comply with regulatory requirements. He added that Tron complied with laws and regulations in Singapore, where it's located, and the money-laundering allegation was "not true."
However, in March 2022, the Verge reported that Sun has a long history of bending financial laws in the US and China, and collected passports in countries like Malta, Guinea-Bissau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, saying that he would escape to one if the law ever caught up with him.
Sun jumped on the meme-stock bandwagon in 2021.
Sun invested $10 million in GameStop and $1 million in each of AMC and the iShares Silver Trust during the meme-stock frenzy in January 2021. He told Bloomberg that the Wall Street Bets movement represented a "paradigm shift" in finance and suggested memes are the new fundamentals for the next generation of investors.
In March 2023, Sun was charged by the SEC with fraud and other securities law violations.
The SEC charged Sun and three of his companies, Tron Foundation, BitTorrent Foundation, and Rainberry, formerly BitTorrent, with the unregistered offer and sale of crypto asset securities. Sun was also charged with fraudulently manipulating the price of his cryptocurrency, TRX.
The SEC also charged several celebrities who worked with Sun's companies, including Lindsay Lohan and Jake Paul.
Read the original article on Business Insider