Crypto Influencer Cooper Turley Removed From FWB Over 2013 Bigoted Tweets

Turley, once an adviser to the influential crypto social club Friends With Benefits, is taking a step back.

AccessTimeIconJan 15, 2022 at 5:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 18, 2022 at 2:51 p.m. UTC
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Will Gottsegen was CoinDesk's media and culture reporter.

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Cooper Turley, an investor and influencer at the heart of crypto’s burgeoning DAO scene, has been kicked out of Friends With Benefits (FWB), the exclusive online social club he helped build over the past year.

“The Code of Conduct committee has made the formal recommendation of removal from the FWB DAO leadership, to which the member has accepted,” reads a tweet from the group’s official account, uploaded Friday night.

FWB added: “Regarding the member’s status as a community member, they will be temporarily suspended from the community for a minimum of 2 Seasons, after which, following our restorative approach, they will be granted the opportunity to reapply for DAO membership.”

The post doesn’t refer to Turley by name, but an FWB staffer confirmed that it was indeed about him. The ban is a rare example of real-world consequences in a space that puts a high premium on “censorship-resistance” and “immutability.”

Turley, now 25 years old, has worked with some of the biggest projects in the Web 3 ecosystem. He’s currently listed as a “venture partner” at the venture capital firm Variant Fund, helmed by Jesse Walden and Li Jin, and has worked as an adviser for the blockchain streaming service Audius and the DAO incubator Seed Club.

Last year, Turley was included in Fortune Magazine’s “NFTy 50” – a list of the “most influential builders, creatives, and influencers” in the NFT space. He’s also a prolific author of “thought leadership” on the topic of crypto trading, both on Twitter and in publications like Business Insider.

Turley’s path out of FWB began last Tuesday, when the influencer posted a controversial tweet endorsing a kind of 24/7 hustle culture. Another influencer, Jackson Dame, expressed frustration with the sentiment, accusing Turley of pushing “harmful narratives” for engagement on social media.

Dame then posted some of Turley’s old tweets, containing the n-word and f-slur, to the thread. The tweets ranged from 2011 to late 2014.

Turley, who is white, apologized for the old tweets on Tuesday afternoon.

“I was young, stupid, and careless,” he wrote, adding that “back then, [he] developed a terrible habit of using racial and homophobic slurs to fit in.”

A caveat is that he still holds 243.6 FWB tokens in his primary Ethereum wallet. (FWB is the homespun cryptocurrency that offers access to the group; new members are invited to purchase 75 tokens after their initial application is accepted.) Turley’s stash is worth about $13,000 at today’s prices.

FWB hit a high of nearly $200 last year, just ahead of a hefty investment from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, but has since fallen to around $55 per token.

In a followup to his first apology, Turley wrote on Friday afternoon that he plans to “[take] a step back from all leadership roles in the DAOs and projects [he’s] affiliated with.”

“I need to repair the loss of trust caused by my past,” he added.

Turley did not reply to CoinDesk’s request for comment.

Community weighs in

Reactions from the community ranged from sober and appreciative to breathless and upset.

Some cried “cancel culture.”

Jackson Dame said they’ve personally received significant backlash for unearthing Turley’s old tweets.

“I unintentionally forced an important and inevitable conversation about the current culture of crypto and [Web 3],” they told CoinDesk in a message. “Many people do not feel welcomed or safe in this community, and it’s not going to get any better until we address it head on. The abuse and harassment that I faced for starting this conversation has been extremely disappointing, and it shows how much work we still have to do in order to bring this technology to the mainstream.”

Though Variant Fund has yet to take action against Turley, the firm has said it’s conducting “a thorough review to inform a decision on [its] course of action.”

The statement also characterized Turley as a “consultant,” as opposed to a venture partner.


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