Litecoin founder Charlie Lee recently liquidated his stack of the very coin he created. A prominent figure in the cryptosphere, he has often been met with a mixture of praise and criticism for his vocal online presence.
Charlie Lee: the Man, the Legacy, the Controversy
In 2011, Charlie Lee founded Litecoin, what many began to brand as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. Charlie Lee envisioned his creation as a Bitcoin alternative that would be easier to mine, faster to send, and cheaper to transact than its brother currency. Little did he know at the time that his creation would actually outperform Bitcoin in 2017, appreciating by 7,500% over the course of the year.
In the aftermath of this meteoric runup, Charlie Lee decided to unburden his wallet of all his Litecoins. Writing about his choice in a December 20 Reddit thread, Lee revealed that he had either donated or sold all of his Litecoin holdings over the past week, save for a handful of physical Litecoins that he intends to hold on to as collectibles. In the post, Lee stated that “Litecoin has been very good” to him, so he no longer needs to rely on its success for his financial stability.
Bearing the name SatoshiLite on Twitter, Lee has become one of the most popular and vocal personalities in crypto. He has accrued over 399,000 Twitter followers and actively weighs in on popular and controversial topics within the community. Couple this social media presence with his time as a lead engineer at Coinbase, and you can see why he has become one of the more admired figures in the crypto community at large.
Ironically, those aspects of Lee’s background also make him one of the most controversial figures in the sector. After Litecoin was added to Coinbase back in May, some people accused Lee of having influenced that decision. He’s also come under fire for allegedly overhyping Litecoin and manipulating its price with promotional tweets.
The latter criticism, in part, informed Lee’s decision to relieve himself of his holdings. He indicated that it had become too much of a “conflict of interest” for him to hold Litecoin amidst its recent success. In Lee’s words:
…whenever I tweet about [the] Litecoin price or even just good or bads [sic] news, I get accused of doing it for personal benefit. Some people even think I short LTC! So in a sense, it is conflict of interest for me to hold LTC and tweet about it because I have so much influence….there will always be a doubt on whether any of my actions were to further my own personal wealth above the success of Litecoin and crypto-currency in general.
The Future of Litecoin
Lee implored Reddit users to not inquire about the number of coins he had liquidated, and he added that “the amount of coins was a small percentage of GDAX’s daily volume and it did not crash the market.”
He also made it clear that, while he will no longer hold his brainchild currency, he will continue to work on it and nurture its growth. By spending the majority of his time developing Litecoin further, he expects “to be rewarded in lots of different ways, just not directly via ownership of coins.” He concluded by adding that he believes focusing solely on the currency’s development is the best way to promote Litecoin’s maturation.
Perhaps this move will make Lee’s opponents ease up on him. But if his Reddit post is any indication, it may serve to invite new speculation as critics begin to ask why a supposed believer in crypto’s future has opted to liquidate the majority of his holdings. Maybe he’ll catch a break, or maybe Charlie Lee is just a magnet for controversy.