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 Dec 6, 2022 at 3:41 a.m. UTC
Consensus 2023 Logo
Join the most important conversation in crypto and Web3 taking place in Austin, Texas, April 26-28.
Consensus 2023 Logo
Join the most important conversation in crypto and Web3 taking place in Austin, Texas, April 26-28.

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.

Issue Week
Issue 17Most Influential 2022Explore This Issue

More from Consensus Magazine


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

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.