There has been some FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) regarding Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, selling all his Litecoins back in December 2017. This includes a lot of false accusations that Charlie Lee sold purely for financial gain or that he doesn’t believe in Litecoin any more which are both completely untrue.
Charlie Lee sold his Litecoins due to a growing perceived conflict of interest. This article will clarify why Charlie Lee selling was the best thing for Litecoin moving forward to remain decentralized and will ultimately defeat all the FUD regarding him selling.
Strap on to your seats folks.
Let’s delve into the 10 most common misconceptions:
1. “Charlie Lee sold at all time high and caused Litecoin to crash”
Some claim that Charlie Lee sold at Litecoin’s all time high, but this is factually incorrect. Charlie sold at three points leading up to the all time high back in December 2017, as he mentioned in his below tweet:
Now, to fully disprove this FUD, below is a screenshot of Litecoin’s price on CMC in December 2017 with highlighted the points in which approximately Charlie Lee sold:
The average price that Charlie Lee got was $205 meaning he couldn’t have sold all his coins at all-time-high. In addition, the price of Litecoin still rose even after he sold after those three points. This shows that Charlie Lee selling his Litecoin did not have any major impact on the Litecoin price as it closely followed Bitcoin’s price surge (as highlighted in orange). In fact, the percentage of the coins that Charlie Lee sold was an extremely small percentage (approx. 1%) of the daily volume on the GDAX exchange which meant that it actually did not impact on the price. If Charlie Lee’s selling impacted the price of Litecoin then the orange line on the above graph would go down in comparison but it didn’t.
The price of Litecoin hit its all time highs with a recorded $371.96 on CMC, which was around a day after Charlie sold his last bunch of coins. So he also did not sell at all time high. Charlie Lee announced that he sold all his Litecoins due to conflict of interest on the 19th of December 2017 via this reddit post. Charlie Lee’s announcement about selling did not cause Litecoin to crash as all the coins in the market were affected by this sudden drop and Litecoin was no different (orange line that shows LTC/BTC relationship proves this). The people that are spreading this FUD are likely the same people that carelessly invested during the bullrun and are now blaming Charlie Lee when in fact they should have invested more carefully.
To answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee did not sell at all time high and he did not cause Litecoin to crash as it closely followed the drop of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
2. “Pfft.. Charlie doesn’t have any conflict of interest… he sold purely for profit”
No. To fully understand Charlie Lee’s internal conflict of interest, you need to understand the motivations behind him creating Litecoin. To get a more in-depth perspective, I would highly recommend reading this article here on why Charlie Lee created Litecoin.
When Charlie Lee first got introduced to Bitcoin back in 2011, he was fascinated about its similar characteristics with Gold; but more so by the fact that it was fully digital and immutable, irreversible and censorship free money. Since that time, Charlie Lee has remained very active within the Bitcoin community to try and advance Bitcoin to become this global reserve standard for all cryptocurrencies. In fact, he created Litecoin to complement Bitcoin as a payment system as he saw a need for a similar cryptocurrency that’s aimed for everyday ease of use, like Silver is to Gold. As the founder of Litecoin, Charlie Lee is followed by many people mainly for regular updates on Litecoin but also by some to determine buying/selling opportunities.
It was only when Charlie Lee announced a while back that he actually owns some Litecoin that people started to question his motives every time he made a tweet or any major announcements. Many people started to accuse him of pumping the Litecoin price for his own personal benefit. Now, all these accusations are false but this abuse (mainly from other parts of the cryptocurrency community) kept on coming. Charlie Lee himself did start to notice that whenever he did made major announcements and tweets regarding Litecoin that people started to act on price but this was not done on purpose. It just so happens that the community members following him were using his tweets as leverage to buy or sell more Litecoin.
Is this the correct way to invest Litecoin? No. You shouldn’t buy Litecoin just because Charlie Lee posts something good about it. That defeats the whole purpose of Litecoin being a decentralized currency.
Because of this, Charlie felt ethically wrong that his tweets were indirectly making people buy Litecoin when he was actually trying to help grow Litecoin adoption. It got to a point where Charlie even questioned his own tweets before he even tweeted them — and internally debated whether or not he was doing it for his own financial benefit or to actually help and grow Litecoin. Charlie thought for a long time and was deciding between not tweeting anymore or not owning any Litecoins. He decided to go with the latter.
Charlie Lee then sold because of this increasing conflict of interest and would have sold regardless if the price went up or not. In other words, he sold so that he can focus 100% on bringing mainstream adoption to Litecoin, without people constantly questioning his motives that he was doing it for his personal benefit. This is ultimately a good thing for Litecoin as unlike many other cryptocurrencies in this space, Litecoin is the only one with the creator that has no stake which means Litecoin can remain as decentralized as possible away from Charlie Lee which is the whole point of cryptocurrency. It also means that Litecoin in the future won’t be threatened by its founder using their stake to make centralized decision making which will be talked further in Point 9.
To answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee sold because of an internal conflict of interest and because of people constantly questioning his motives every time he made positive tweets about Litecoin. Now, Charlie can post positive news about Litecoin and continue being fully focused on long term adoption, instead of people constantly questioning his motives.
3. “Well.. since Charlie sold he doesn’t have any skin in the game so he is not motivated”
You don’t need to have a financial stake in something in order for something to succeed. Yes, some people are indeed motivated by financial incentives but that isn’t the only form of motivation. In fact, many psychologists have shown that extrinsic motivators such as financial incentives are a bad way of motivating someone, especially when it comes to complex problem solving and cryptocurrencies are indeed complex. Read this article here debating intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for more insight on this.
A real life example of this is by looking at the motivations of a parent. Why is it that parents are motivated to raise their children despite the time and effort it often takes? Do parents see a financial benefit from their child in the future? or is it that the parent sees their child as a part of themselves and they feel intrinsically motivated to help raise their children so they can flourish in the future? If it’s the former then you really need to reconsider yourself as a parent.
Even better still, why don’t you bet $1,000,000 right now on your child succeeding in the future? Having skin in the game is good right? Why won’t you gamble that your child will be successful in the future? Do you not believe in them to make this bet?
The idea that you need to have financial stake in order to motivate someone is nonsensical. People can be intrinsically motivated for many other reasons and Charlie Lee is no different. He sees Litecoin as his child that he wants to spend time and effort growing so that it can improve the current financial system. This is because Charlie is intrinsically motivated to help bring sound money to people in the world. He is not motivated by financial gain. If he was motivated by financial gain, he would have premined Litecoin like the rest of the alt coins back in 2011 but he didn’t. Litecoin was the only alt that was released the most fairest (and arguably still is today) and this proves that Charlie Lee is not in this for financial gain. He is in this to bring sound money to the world.
So to answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee didn’t sell because he didn’t believe in Litecoin any more. If he didn’t believe in Litecoin, he would have sold and not told anyone — just think about that. Why would he still work with major companies like HTC, UFC, C&U Entertainment, Glory Kickboxing and SurfAir to push for LTC adoption even after he sold? Charlie’s skin in the game is his legacy and that means more to him that any financial gain.
4. “Charlie Lee dumped on all his Litecoin holders and is living rich”
No. Charlie Lee sold due to conflict of interest and is donating all the earnings to the Litecoin Foundation. He has not personally financially benefited from his Litecoin selling. In fact, Charlie Lee’s LTC holdings were a small percentage of his overall net wealth so it did not actually affect him.
He didn’t “dump” on Litecoin holders because all the earnings from the selling are being used to help continue growing Litecoin adoption which is in fact helping those exact same Litecoin holders.
Here’s the December 2017 financial statement from the Litecoin Foundation:
Here is the unofficial Litecoins donated to the Foundation:
Now, here are some of the benefit of the sell/donations made by Charlie Lee:
- Charlie Lee’s donation helped with UFC 232 sponsorship
- Charlie Lee’s donation helped with Glory Kickboxing collaboration
- Charlie Lee’s donation helped with funding the C&U Entertainment partnership.
- Charlie Lee’s donation helped with funding the Miami Dolphins partnership.
- Charlie Lee’s donations are helping with funding Litecoin Core Development.
- Charle Lee’s donation helped with attending conferences, interviews and overall brand building of Litecoin
Charlie Lee is still very much active with the Litecoin Foundation and is continuing to push for mainstream adoption. Adoption is what will move us out of this bear market. In fact, Litecoin led the charge out of this bear market back in December 2018 as shown below from its relationship with LTC/BTC (via the orange line) because of this very reason that it was leading mainstream adoption:
Charlie Lee’s earnings are continuing to be used to help continue growing Litecoin and he still continues to remain active helping grow the ecosystem.
To answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee is not living rich, in fact, all the earnings from his selling are being used to benefit Litecoin holders. This is seen by the many partnerships and collaboration the Litecoin Foundation has made in recent months which has led us out of its bearish cycle.
5. “Okay.. so if Charlie had this supposed ‘Conflict of Interest’ then why did he wait until 2017 to sell? It’s because he wanted to profit”
Charlie Lee didn’t have much perceived conflict of interest in the early days of Litecoin because he didn’t have much indirect influence on Litecoin price.
As you can see here, Charlie had only 142 followers on twitter in 2013. It was only until the end of 2017 when this conflict of interest became more obvious as he became more influential in the cryptocurrency space. For example, as of March 2017 Litecoin was trading about $4 and around that time Charlie Lee had about ~29,000 followers at the time. However, compare that to the end of 2017 where Charlie Lee’s followings grew to ~292,000 on twitter and price rose to $97 — this conflict of interest became more apparent to him so he sold.
He did not wait for a perfect opportunity to ‘sell’. In fact, in this article/interview here, Charlie Lee thought the price of Litecoin would continue to rise to $1,000 during that December 2017 bullrun. But surely, if he wanted to profit then why didn’t he wait for the price to hit $1,000 and sell at its peak? The answer is because Charlie was not motivated by financial gain; he would have sold at those exact same points regardless if the price went up or down because he was getting more popular which led to a more perceived conflict of interest. It just so happens that this influence coincided with the price surge that happened at the end of 2017.
So to answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee did not wait until the price went very high in order to sell. He sold because of the increasing conflict of interest which was made more apparent to him in late 2017.
6. “But.. Charlie had insider information as he worked for Coinbase and/or his brother works for BTCC”
This is another false accusation and potentially, a libellous statement.
An insider trader is someone who trades based on material non public information that affects the price. Charlie Lee did not have any price moving information when he sold. Just being a founder of a project doesn’t make it insider trading. As mentioned before, Charlie Lee sold due to conflict of interest regardless if the price went up or not.
Insider sellers also don’t publicly announce their sells. Like why would Charlie Lee publicly announce that he sold his Litecoins? because he wanted people to connect the dots that he was insider trading? Come on how stupid is that? The market crash that occurred in late December 2017 had nothing to do with Charlie Lee selling or his announcement about selling. The claim that Charlie Lee’s selling affected the whole market (when in fact all coins experienced the same drop) is nonsensical.
Now, Charlie Lee was at Coinbase for 4 years and left in June 2017 but this was 6 months before he sold. So the claims that he had insider information because he was currently working at Coinbase is false. Even after he left, how would Coinbase know of an upcoming price surge? People don’t just exactly give heads up to exchanges before they invest. For example, did you contact Coinbase to let them know you were buying Bitcoin or Litecoin in December 2017? Of course not. People bought mainly because of the price surge that happened and FOMO’d in. In fact, if you look at the exchange volumes during the bullrun in late 2017, Coinbase and BTCC were not even in the top 10 exchanges as others like Bitfinex saw massive rises in volume which impacted more on the price of Bitcoin and Litecoin. This further proves even if Coinbase or BTCC knew of the potential bullrun they would not have correctly predicted the price or even the extent to which the market would have risen. It’s absurd to think that investors will let Coinbase or BTCC to let know when exactly they will buy or sell and it’s even more absurd to think that Charlie Lee after having worked at Coinbase would somehow know before anyone else this bullrun.
Another FUD which people often say is that Charlie Lee left Coinbase after he got Litecoin listed on its platform. This is false. Coinbase listed Litecoin in May 2017 but Charlie Lee decided to leave many months before that happened. In fact, Charlie Lee took 3 months leave in summer of 2016 to go part time (part time Coinbase and part time Litecoin) and eventually decided to leave Coinbase in December 2016 to fully focus on Litecoin. However, Coinbase kept Charlie Lee on for transition for 6 months which is why Charlie Lee officially left in June 2017. The decision to leave Coinbase was made before Coinbase decided to add Litecoin. The reason why Litecoin was listed on Coinbase was because it was a top 3 cryptocurrency in trade volume and that it would make them money. Even if Charlie didn’t work at Coinbase, they would have still added Litecoin regardless. So the claims that Charlie Lee got Litecoin listed on Coinbase and left afterwards is completely false.
So to answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee did not have any insider information or any idea of price movements. In fact, this is completely irrelevant because Charlie Lee sold because of conflict of interest and not because of price. To those that keep on making this claim, remember it is also a libellous statement.
7. “But, But… Charlie was involved with Tether and/or Bitfinex scam”
There was a Medium post being shared here that claims that Charlie Lee was insider trading with Coinbase and that he was associated with the Tether/Bitfinex scandal. This is completely false and again a potentially a libelous statement.
Charlie lee did in fact talk to Tether regarding their interest in building on top of Litecoin but Charlie talks to people and companies that are interested to work on top of Litecoin all the time. It doesn’t mean that he is ‘affiliated’ with those said people or companies. In this specific case, Tether made a statement that they wanted to issue USDT on Omni on Litecoin via this post here and Charlie Lee simply quoted the statement via his tweet, as shown below:
But this does not mean that Charlie Lee is affiliated with Tether. Unless your definition of affiliation is very board and that quoting statements from companies and other people interested means that they are affiliated then Charlie lee (and even you reading this article) are affiliated with almost every single company in this space. To me, that’s a really stupid way to think. Other than being optimistic about Tether wanting to work on top of Litecoin, Charlie Lee is not guilty of anything.
Here is a full post of Charlie Lee defeating the false accusations regarding the Tether/Bitfinex and summarized below:
Problem 1: Charlie Lee was an employee of Coinbase when Coinbase added Litecoin, a crypto-currency he ‘created’ by simply copying Bitcoin and changing the name and adjusting a few variables and a hash function taken ‘scrypt’ from another crypto-currency.
Writing the initial code for Litecoin was easy. Doing it as fair as possible was the key. Fending off attacks and building the community from ground up was the hard part.
Problem 2: Charlie Lee likely had significant holdings of Litecoin while he worked for Coinbase, and therefore may have asked many times for Coinbase to add Litecoin. Being an engineer at Coinbase, he may also be responsible for implementing the code to add Litecoin to Coinbase.
I joined Coinbase in 2013 as the 2nd engineer and helped build Coinbase to become what it is today. I didn’t just join them last year, get them to add Litecoin, and quit! I took 3 years before I felt like it made sense business-wise to add Litecoin to Coinbase. I pitched the idea to add ETH and LTC at the same time, but Brian and Fred decided to add ETH first. When it made sense, LTC was added to GDAX because LTC was the top-3 trading volume of any coins at that time. And when GDAX started doing huge volume for LTC, I asked Brian if it made sense for Coinbase to add LTC in that tweet. He said yes, and that was when the decision was made.
Charlie Lee kept promising Coinbase will add Litecoin on the Litecoin Telegram.
My post to telegram was after Brian announced on Twitter. So I did not leak any the news that Coinbase will add Litecoin. (check the dates: 4/5 versus 4/12)
Problem 3: The Litecoin community was essentially dead prior to being listed on Coinbase, on reddit. The only people who wanted Litecoin listed, were people hodling their Litecoins, and presumably, Charlie Lee.
This is conjecture. The community was not dead. Sure it’s less people posting on reddit back then, but reddit is not the whole community. LTC was actively traded and that’s the reason why Coinbase added Litecoin.
Problem 4: Nobody was using Litecoin!
Also conjecture. What mattered to Coinbase was trade volume and LTC was top 3.
Problem 5: Irregular trading activity prior to Litecoin announcements.
I don’t see what was irregular. LTC was traded pretty crazily around that time because of SegWit and Coinbase adding news.
Problem 6: Charlie Lee quit working for Coinbase almost immediately after Litecoin was added, to ‘focus’ on Litecoin.
I was already doing part time in 2016 summer and spending more than half my time with Litecoin and adding SegWit. You would know if you were around back then. I told Coinbase late 2016 that I would leave sometime in 2017. The whole company knew already months before the decision was made to add Litecoin. So it was not like Coinbase adds Litecoin and then I immediately quit. If Coinbase decided not to add Litecoin, I would have left anyways. I was already spending most of my time on Litecoin.
In summary, Coinbase adding Litecoin is due to Litecoin having large trading volume and a good business decision. And I did not trade LTC with insider news. Coinbase is highly regulated. If there’s any shenanigans, Coinbase and I would easily be in big trouble”.
So to answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee was never associated with Tether or Bitfinex and certainly, did not have any insider information from Coinbase as disproved in the earlier section.
8. “Lol.. but Charlie pumped Litecoin before he sold. He went on CNBC Fast Money and also tweeted HODL on the very same day he sold”
First, Charlie Lee refrains from buying or selling any Litecoin prior to any tweets or major announcements. So the claim that he wanted to pump Litecoin by going on the CNBC interview so that he can sell at a higher price is false. As mentioned many times within this article, Charlie Lee sold due to conflict of interest and not for financial gain. He would have sold at those exact same points regardless if the price went up or down because he was getting more influential and this internal conflict of interest become more apparent.
Second, Charlie Lee did have an interview on CNBC but he didn’t go there to pump the price of Litecoin.
Here is the full interview:
A big part of Charlie Lee’s role is to increase awareness and adoption of Litecoin and this interview is one step to make this happen. Marketing is needed for adoption. Pumping the price is not the goal though. In fact, every other cryptocurrency went up around that time. The price of Litecoin did not go up more and definitely not because of any interviews that Charlie Lee did. In fact, in another later interview Charlie Lee even says he does not like to speculate on price, as shown below:
This cryptocurrency creator doesn't like to speculate on prices
Charlie Lee of Litecoin doesn't want to discuss price levels because he's "always wrong."
Third, Charlie Lee did in fact tweet ‘HODL on for dear life’ on the 8th of December 2017 but let me give a bit of context first and clarify the intention.
Here is the original tweet:
The quoted message in Charlie Lee’s tweet is from the following youtube video:
The video and tweet itself is meant to be a meme. Charlie Lee quoted the video as a funny expression and response to Litecoin going up. In fact, the term ‘Hodl’ means to not sell during a crash. It’s not in conflict with selling when the price is up. It also doesn’t mean to never sell. Just read the original hodl post to understand that. Even with this tweet, Charlie Lee has not stated or told anyone to not sell Litecoin or to never sell.
Nobody reading this tweet would see it as Charlie Lee telling them to not sell. That’s a pretty stupid understanding of Charlie Lee’s funny tweet.
But, we have some people that try to spin this off, as shown below:
And this FUD is actually false. To clear this false accusation once and for all, let’s delve into the actual facts:
Charlie Lee’s tweet was made at 04:10 UTC December 9th 2017 which is when the price of Litecoin on CMC was ~$142.02 dollars. As Charlie Lee publicly announced in another tweet here, he sold his first batch of Litecoins when the price was ~$96. So Charlie Lee sold before he tweeted the ‘HODL for dear life’ tweet and therefore, the claim that he told his followers to hold whilst he began to sell is completely false.
As mentioned earlier, Charlie Lee’s tweet has nothing to do with him giving financial advice, it was just a response to a funny video that someone tagged him in. People are trying to spin this tweet when in fact, the term ‘HODL’ means not to sell when the price is going down in the first place, not when the price is going up. Also, Charlie Lee did not tell anyone to never sell their Litecoins nor did he tweet that before he sold. These are completely false accusations.
To answer this FUD, No. Charlie Lee did not attempt to pump the price so that he can sell higher by going on interviews and certainly, he sold before he tweeted HODL for dear life. In fact, HODL means not to sell when the price drops and is not in conflict when the price is going up. Charlie Lee’s tweet is nothing by a meme and people are taking it out of context.
9. “Okay… but if a CEO sold all his shares in his business then that’s bad”
Litecoin is not a stock. Litecoin is not a business. Litecoin is not a product/service. Litecoin does not have any CEO or any board of directors. If at any point you think these are true then you don’t have a strong understanding of how cryptocurrencies like Litecoin or even Bitcoin work. In fact, I will argue that you do not have any actual understanding at all.
Litecoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency which this means that it is not owned by any single entity but by all the participants in the system, in other words, Litecoin is network-centric/protocol based and certainly not hierarchical. This should immediately make you realise this is not the same as any business model — which is often privately owned and only a select group of people make sole decisions. The idea that Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, is the CEO and must have a financial stake in Litecoin is absolute nonsense. Firstly, a CEO is paid to increase their stock price — it’s their job to do so. If they are underperforming at their job they will be sacked by the Board. Charlie’s job and goal is to increase Litecoin adoption, but not necessarily its price. There’s the key difference here — Charlie Lee is not focused on price and can never be voted out of anything since he isn’t contracted or obliged to increase price. In fact, even you have the same decision making power as Charlie Lee on decisions for the Litecoin protocol just by having your own node and participating in this decentralized network. How does this even resemble anything like a business? The very same people that say Litecoin is a business are the same people that argue Charlie Lee selling his Litecoin position is a bad thing. In fact, it was the best thing for Litecoin moving forward as the whole point of a decentralized currency is to move away from one single entity or authoritative figure.
But surely having a financial stake in Litecoin means that you believe in it? As already discussed within Point 3 Charlie Lee is not extrinsically motivated so he doesn’t need to have a financial stake in order for him to believe in it. In fact, a perfect example of why founders having a financial stake is bad for the cryptocurrency can be seen in the Bitcoin Cash split which occurred back in November 2017. To give a bit of context, the Bitcoin Cash founders disagreed on a potential upgrade for the network and used their financial stake to encourage a split in the blockchain into BCHSV and BCHABC. For example, both sides used their financial stake to either rent hashpower or purchase mining farms so that they can win this hashwar and ultimately keep the Bitcoin Cash name. As argued by Peter Rizun here, the split was driven by leadership on both sides and exacerbated by the fact that both sides had large stake in their coins which meant that they can heavily influence the hash battle. In fact, because of the financial incentives that were at stake if both sides were to lose it lead to one side making a centralized decision on their own cryptocurrency. For example, BCH implemented checkpoints to secure their network from being reversed. This action damaged the integrity of the Bitcoin Cash network and is an example of what happens when founders have a large financial stake — centralization and influence over their own network.
On the other side you have Craig Wright trying to gain access into Satoshi Nakamoto’s wallet, who is the founder of Bitcoin, so that Craig as he admitted would sell all the Bitcoins in order to buy BSV. Because Satoshi owns around 980,000 BTC which is roughly 4.6% of the maximum supply of Bitcoin, it means that there is a real threat of a serious price dump. This shows how founders having financial stake in their own coins can be actually bad for many reasons.
To answer this FUD, No. Litecoin is not a business or a product and therefore it does not have any CEO so the comparison between the two is nonsensical. In fact, cryptocurrencies thrive when there’s no leader making centralized calls so having financial stake as a founder can be bad for the actual crytocurrency itself. We have seen this first hand in Bitcoin Cash. Luckily, this won’t ever happen to Litecoin as Charlie Lee removed his financial stake so he can purely focus on driving adoption and not motivated by ego and political agendas.
10. “You are wrong.. Charlie Lee actually bought his Litecoin back at a lower price”
No. Charlie Lee won’t ever financially invest in Litecoin because of the aforementioned conflict of interest. In short, Charlie Lee is 100% focused on bringing mainstream adoption to Litecoin and not on price movements and this is ultimately a good thing for Litecoin.
But surely he is going against what he is believing in? If he wants Litecoin to succeed and Fiat to fail, surely he should hold Litecoin and not Fiat currency? This is a good point and one that Charlie Lee has thought about and has explicitly stated that unless Litecoin and Bitcoin take over the global financial system and become the norms of society, that he will continue using the Fiat earnings to grow Bitcoin and Litecoin ecosystems respectfully. But saying that, Charlie Lee does hold some Litecoin for daily usage and for adoption purposes. He just won’t ever financially invest in Litecoin because of conflict of interest.
But don’t trust me, verify from the original sources yourselves in which Charlie Lee gives interviews and explains all this himself:
Join the revolution with Litecoin now as it leads the industry in mainstream adoption.