He Put a Magnifying Glass on Terra and It Went Up in Flames

Having whistleblowers’ trust made a cranky pseudonymous Twitter account key to the flameout of Terraform Labs and its LUNA token. That’s why FatManTerra is one of CoinDesk’s Most Influential 2022.

AccessTimeIconDec 5, 2022 at 1:29 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 28, 2023 at 2:28 p.m. UTC

In no other industry but crypto can “one dude in his room” move markets. Such is the story of FatManTerra in 2022, who put Do Kwon’s Terraform Labs under a microscope until it ignited into a flaming mess, precipitating crypto winter.

FatManTerra isn’t doxxed; in internet parlance this means having your true identity uncovered – or revealing it yourself – and in interviews such as with Laura Shin on her ”Unchained” podcast he used a voice changer in addition to keeping his camera off.

But for someone who’s just a dude in his room, as he said in an interview with Fortune, he sure gets the attention of crypto stakeholders. FatManTerra got his start on the Terra Research Forum, a discussion board for all things related to the Terra protocol (which powers the algorithmic stablecoin terraUSD). Then he opened an account on Twitter with the same handle. While at first FatManTerra’s tweets were lost in the ether, acknowledged but not turned into market-moving action, his continued criticisms eventually got the attention of whistleblowers, who began to share more evidence with him. A perpetual-motion machine started. More and more scoops began coming in, and the criticisms of Terra’s financial engineering grew louder.

And then it all collapsed. The financial engineering Do Kwon created could not withstand the beginning of the bear market, and in early May the wheels came off the $60 billion UST/LUNA ecosystem.

Since then, FatManTerra has been a close monitor of Do Kwon, amplifying research on how he and associates drained the protocol and Luna Foundation Guard of funds as they knew the house of cards was collapsing. Law enforcement can move slowly, and might not have the expertise in on-chain research. FatManTerra found it in a place it can be easily seen.

Among the powerful people in FatManTerra’s audience were Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who is said to have started an investigation based on FatManTerra’s tweets. Now Zhao regularly responds to his tweets, though FatManTerra criticized Binance and Binance.US in a May tweet thread for keeping the details of the relationship opaque.

Though the mantle of Public Enemy Number One has passed onto Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of crypto exchange FTX, Do Kwon engineered the man-made disaster that precipitated the crypto bear market in May. It’s been an exhausting several months of vigilance.

“Once Do Kwon is brought to justice and there is some sort of satisfying resolution to all of this, I’m definitely going to be posting much less and focus on real-life stuff,” FatManTerra told Fortune. “I need to return to the real world.”

That may take some time longer, however. FatManTerra’s real name is on one of the Terra class-action lawsuits. We just don’t know which one.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.