Block.one’s peculiar $10B exchange Bullish opens trade for crypto fat cats
Block.one’s crypto exchange Bullish says it has opened trading for institutional clients in countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Brazil — but not yet in the US.
Bullish (which plans to eventually support retail traders in the US), will list pairs in base denominations of Bitcoin, Ether, EOS, and stablecoin USDC.
Its official website indicates it will also offer liquidity pooling for clients interested in earning passive yield.
Bullish has plans to go public through a merger with Far Peak Acquisition Corporation, expected to close by March 2022.
The crypto exchange is funded with the proceeds of Block.one’s curious EOS initial coin offering (ICO) in 2018.
- Block.one claimed EOS raised $4 billion back in 2018, the largest ICO in history.
- Analysis has since cast doubt on that claim; the vast majority could be accounted for through wash trading.
- In 2019, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took a $24 million fine when it deemed the EOS ICO an unregistered security.
- In June, Block.one quietly settled a $27.5 million lawsuit with crypto investors claiming the ICO was “highly centralized.”
Bullish claims to run on the EOS blockchain. However, it’s a fully centralized exchange — processing transactions off-chain and periodically writing “receipts” of batched trades onto the EOS blockchain.
Journalist David Z. Morris presented the bear case for Bullish in an opinion piece. He concluded that Bullish’s raison d’etre is not to operate a profitable exchange but to sunset EOS’ ICO proceeds into a publicly-listed holding company as exit liquidity for its founding team.
Block.one was originally founded by former child actor and Tether insider Brock Pierce, Dan Larimer, Ian Grigg, and Brendan Blumer.
It has influenced EOS’ development through various ventures, including overhyped projects Voice and Chintai.
Prominent Bullish investors include Christian Angermayer, Peter Thiel, and Alan Howard, in a $300 million funding round earlier this year.
Block.one itself contributed:
- $100 million in cash,
- 20 million EOS ($80.8 million),
- and 164,000 BTC ($8.1 billion).
Bullish finds friend in tax haven Gibraltar
Bullish obtained a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) license in the tax haven Gibraltar.
The exchange’s head of risk and compliance Anthony Smith praised the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission’s friendliness toward crypto.
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EOS initially aimed to compete with Ethereum as a platform for hosting decentralized apps (dApps).
According to dAppRadar, EOS’ current top dApps are gambling websites, social platform Yup, games Upland and Crypto Dynasty, and NFT marketplace AtomicAssets.
The decentralized exchange Alcor also uses the EOS blockchain.
The dubious ICO funding Bullish
Block.one sold 900 million EOS tokens in its 2018 ICO, estimated to be worth up to $4 billion for the crypto startup.
Since then, it has faced allegations of conducting an unregistered securities sale that ended in a $24 million settlement with the SEC.
It also faces claims of market manipulation.
Many consider the SEC’s settlement a drop in the bucket compared to proceeds generated by the mammoth token sale.
Now that researchers have discovered the small amount of actual funds raised, the settlement becomes more proportional to the infraction.
- A forensic investigation conducted by consulting firm Integra FEC found Block.one might have repeatedly “recycled” EOS and ETH through suspicious accounts on Bitfinex and Binance to effectively pump the price of EOS tokens during the ICO.
- ConsenSys also observed odd behavior, including withdrawals of funds while the sale was still open, and the unusual length of time that the sale was open — a whole year.
- ConsenSys also confirmed that investors and insiders could trade EOS tokens on exchanges during the token sale, which is unheard of.
Block.one created EOS on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token and then conducted a token swap onto its separate blockchain.
A disappointment since the beginning
The EOS community has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with Block.one’s influence over the ecosystem. Critics have formed the relatively new EOS Foundation and elected Yves La Rose as its first CEO.
“There’s no sugar-coating it: EOS, as it stands, is a failure,” La Rose said in a statement earlier this month.
According to La Rose’s Twitter account, EOS Foundation budgeted millions of dollars for development projects built on EOS. Those projects included wallets, APIs, and grant matching for developers interested in building on EOS.
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The EOS community expressed concern that Block.one lost most of its key developers and swiveled from a blockchain company to an asset management company.
EOS also lost key block producers, including EOS Tribe, which resigned in 2019.
EOS Tribe criticized “whales” for overwhelmingly supporting block producers in China and other Chinese influence over EOS’ development.
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