Business

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Crypto whiz kid Justin Sun postponed a $4.6 million charity lunch with Warren Buffett scheduled for Thursday, blaming a bout of kidney stones. Chinese media reported his real reason for rescheduling was that he was barred from leaving China following a laundry list of allegations that includes illegal fundraising, money laundering, gambling, and pornography. sh_cad_3

The boss of Tron – the 11th largest cryptocurrency with a $1.5 billion market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap – and file-sharing service BitTorrrent has dismissed the rumors. Sun streamed a live video on Tuesday that seemed to show he was in San Francisco. “I feel so much better now!” he tweeted on Wednesday. “It seems I will be back to work with full speed on this Friday!” sh_cad_4

Hours later, he issued a groveling public apology on Chinese social-media site Weibo, suggesting he was in trouble with the Chinese government. sh_cad_5

Here are six things to know about the 28-year-old tech entrepreneur.


A protégé of Alibaba founder Jack Ma

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Justin Sun is a protégé of Alibaba founder and 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. sh_cad_7

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, titling it “The Birth of a Decentralized Internet,” SCMP said. He graduated from Hupan in 2018. sh_cad_8


An entrepreneur and dealmaker

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Sun joined Ripple Labs as a chief representative and adviser in Greater China at the end of 2013, according to 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 also founded Callme or Peiwo, China’s largest voice live-streaming app, in 2013. sh_cad_12

In July 2017, Sun founded the Tron Foundation, 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. sh_cad_13


A crypto advocate

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Sun planned to use his lunch with Buffett to convert the 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.” sh_cad_18

Sun intends to execute a full-court press on Buffett during their lunch. He has invited eToro founder and CEO Yoni Assia, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, and other crypto advocates to dine with them. He also plans to give Buffett a smartphone loaded with cryptocurrencies, he said at a conference in Taiwan earlier this month, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We want him to own his own Bitcoin or Litecoin.” sh_cad_19


A controversial figure

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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. sh_cad_21

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.” sh_cad_22


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