Tron Founder Justin Sun Plans Buying Spree

Tron Founder Justin Sun Plans Buying Spree
Source: Calvin Sit | Bloomberg | Getty Image

By Kathy Chu


Cryptocurrency entrepreneur and Tron founder Justin Sun plans to acquire up to five crypto companies in the coming months, with trading platforms as top prospects.

"We have lots of partnerships and acquisitions on the way," Sun told TruthDAO. The full video interview, which took place on Aug. 17, will air on YouTube on Aug. 25. “Probably, we will end up with 3 to 5 companies.”

Sun declined to name potential acquisition targets, but allowed that he finds crypto platforms appealing because they are at the “center of the crypto industry” with their robust user data and traffic flows.

Sun has previously indicated that he is prepared to invest up to $5 billion in the crypto space as the industry continues to get pounded. Sun's appetite for deals is shared by crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX Trading Ltd., who is trying to prop up the industry through a series of moves, including direct investments.

The crypto industry’s market cap has declined by almost two thirds in the past year. The industry reached a peak of $3 trillion in November 2021, according to CoinMarketCap, which tracks the ever-evolving fortunes of the volatile crypto world. Today it is worth around $1 trillion, and still looking for a bottom. The fast erosion has presented a crush of buying opportunities for moneyed investors like Sun and Bankman-Fried.

In the case of Bankman-Fried, he has additionally offered lines of credit to ailing crypto lenders BlockFi and Voyager Digital. Voyager filed for bankruptcy in early July.

Currently, Bankman-Fried has an option to purchase BlockFi for up to $240 million. The crypto billionaire, in July, also offered to purchase Voyager’s digital assets and related loans through his companies for “fair market value,” a plan that would give Voyager customers access to part of their frozen funds. Some critics, including Voyager itself, have said that Voyager’s customers would fare better under the lender’s reorganization plan.

Bankman-Fried hasn't been shy about answering his critics. In a July 24th tweet, Bankman-Fried said he thinks Voyager’s customers “should have the right to quickly claim their remaining assets if they want, without rent seeking in the middle.” In a court filing, Voyager called Bankman-Fried’s offer a “low-ball bid dressed up as a white knight rescue.”

Sun is no stranger to controversy, either. Since founding Tron in 2017, he has been criticized for everything from Tron's initial coin offering to his personal spending habits.  Sun generated global headlines in 2019 after he paid $4.6 million to have a charity lunch with famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett. Sun was also a winning bidder for the first crewed trip on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space flight, paying $28 million for guaranteed seats. Sun missed the first Blue Origin launch, but is expected to join the space mission at another time.

Sun, who became the permanent representative to the World Trade Organization for Grenada in late 2021, also raised eyebrows for his public support of a so-called “hard fork” of the Ethereum blockchain. Sun favors having the option of a more electricity-intensive method of verifying blockchain transactions called “proof of work.”

The Ethereum community, meanwhile, is continuing to move forward with the proof-of-stake model in September. Proof-of-stake requires less energy, but also offers less privacy and decentralization, according to Sun. As one of the early supporters of the proof-of-stake model — Tron still uses this model -- Sun says he can see the merits of both systems. That said, he believes smart-contract developers on Ethereum should have the option of proof of work.

The crypto titan has also faced questions about the stability of Tron’s algorithmic stablecoin, called USDD, which depegged briefly in June.

According to Sun, USDD is over-collateralized and not at risk of failing like the TerraUSD stablecoin developed by South Korean entrepreneur Do Kwon. TerraUSD collapsed in May, wiping out billions of dollars in value from the crypto economy.

Explains Sun: “Eventually, the price of the (USDD) stablecoin will be determined by the reserves in Tron DAO reserve." For this reason, Sun said he mostly doesn't worry about volatility.

And while critics may take him to task, at times, for being controversial, Sun says that's actually a badge of honor for him: "Being controversial is a part of innovation."

Says Sun: "If you are doing something and everyone agrees with it, I think you lose the opportunity and lose the point.”