Binance's CEO Sows Doubt in Crypto Rival Coinbase and Digital Asset Manager Grayscale – Then Backtracks

Changpeng Zhao quickly deleted a tweet that called the companies' disclosures into question.

AccessTimeIconNov 22, 2022 at 7:34 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:03 a.m. UTC

Battles between crypto exchange titans has driven much of this month's chaos in the industry. The latest salvo from Binance's CEO appears to have been inaccurate.

On Tuesday, Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao stepped into one of the biggest worries of the moment: doubts among some observers that Grayscale, operator of the biggest bitcoin trust, actually holds all the bitcoin it says it does. Grayscale, which – like CoinDesk – is owned by Digital Currency Group, has said those concerns are unwarranted. And Grayscale has been backed up by its partner Coinbase, the exchange that holds the bitcoin.

But Zhao tweeted numbers that, if they were true, would undermine Grayscale and Coinbase's position. "Just stating 'news reports,' not making any claims," he wrote in the now-deleted tweet.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong appeared to respond soon after on Twitter: "If you see FUD out there – remember, our financials are public (we're a public company)," referring to crypto parlance for fear, uncertainty and doubt. (Binance is a privately held company that doesn't disclose financial information.)

Minutes later, Zhao deleted his original tweet, saying: "Brian Armstrong just told me" the numbers "are wrong." He added: "Let’s work together to improve transparency in the industry."

Zhao also played a central role this month the collapse of crypto exchange giant FTX. After a Nov. 2 CoinDesk story spurred doubts about the financial stability of Sam Bankman-Fried's crypto empire, Zhao announced that he was selling the FTX token that the CoinDesk story talked about. That triggered a panic that led FTX into bankruptcy.


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Nick Baker

Nick Baker is CoinDesk’s deputy editor-in-chief and a Loeb Award winner. His crypto holdings are below CoinDesk's $1,000 disclosure threshold.