‘You Can Do Nothing’: Crypto Trading Titans Are Yelling at Each Other on Elon Musk’s X

“I never thought that you could be THAT scared of us,” DWF’s Andrei Grachev posted on X. Wintermute’s Evgeny Gaevoy: “We are trembling in your presence.”

AccessTimeIconSep 21, 2023 at 6:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 21, 2023 at 9:58 p.m. UTC

It started quietly. Andrei Grachev, whose firm, DWF Labs, emerged as a newsworthy – albeit controversial – presence in crypto this year, posted on Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) a photo of himself sitting beside some competitors.

“Thanks boys for the panel discussion,” he wrote alongside a photo of five people on stage.

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  • Then came the trash-talking.

    Grachev “had absolutely no business to be on that panel,” Cristian Gil, co-founder of market-making giant GSR, posted days later on X. “It’s insulting to [GSR], [crypto exchange OKX] and [Wintermute] to be in the same room as [DWF].” Evgeny Gaevoy, the CEO of huge market maker Wintermute, then clicked “Like” on that post.

    “I never thought that you could be THAT scared of us,” Grachev replied. “Yeah, we are stronger than you in terms of tech, trading, BD and everything. … If I were you – I would be also crying all the time.”

    To another Grachev post apparently directed at the Wintermute executive – “we are eating your market share like a birthday cake and you can do nothing” – Gaevoy replied with a “lol,” and “go ‘invest’ more, we are trembling in your presence.”

    It’s all just words, of course, but the public quarrel is a reminder of DWF’s sudden emergence earlier this year. The company quickly and loudly popped up as a backer of startups. But there was soon debate around whether it was really engaging in venture capital investing, as some thought, or something less long-term: acting like an over-the-counter trading desk, approaching projects with the offer of buying up its tokens, then trying to sell them for a profit.

    This week’s fight was very crypto. First, it took place in the open on X, long the home of the town square known as Crypto Twitter. Gaevoy posted a meme.

    And, naturally, it raised questions about maturity levels and whatnot. What will the big Wall Street firms that are making their boldest moves yet into crypto – including bitcoin ETF applications from the likes of giant asset manager BlackRock – think of all this?

    The thing is, though, there’s precedent for show-stopping battles like this in traditional finance. When author Michael Lewis’ “Flash Boys” came out in 2014, he appeared on CNBC from the New York Stock Exchange floor with the book’s hero, Brad Katsuyama.

    Lewis and Katsuyama faced off “against William O’Brien, the president of the BATS Global Markets exchange, who was clearly enraged at the book’s argument that the stock market is rigged in favor of high-speed traders,” according to a New York Times article published back then.

    “Insults flew,” the Times reported. “The guests raised their voices. Floor brokers at the New York Stock Exchange, glued to their television sets, whooped and hollered at the spoken jabs.”

    Nine years later, on the eve of the publication of a Lewis book on Sam Bankman-Fried and crypto, titans continue to fight.

    Edited by Nikhilesh De.

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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.