Killer Whales, the new show created by HELLO Labs and CoinMarketCap, is described as “Web3’s answer to Shark Tank.” In the show, a team of several crypto professionals (described as “the Web3 industry’s most credible VCs, popular influencers and famous founders”) vote on a variety of different projects, giving them either a ‘SWIM’ or ‘SINK’ vote to decide which project will emerge victorious.
CoinMarketCap, one of the show’s co-producers, is owned by Binance, a firm accused of wrongdoing by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
CFTC lawsuit against Binance claims CZ traded against users
Not only that, but many Killer Whales judges also have controversial crypto-related histories.
Mario Nawfal hosts of a variety of Twitter Spaces (this is apparently still the name of the feature, despite the platform’s rebrand to X), often creating content around current crypto controversies. Nawfal has reportedly used inauthentic engagement to help grow those Spaces.
He has also apparently confessed to charging tens of thousands of dollars for the opportunity to pitch products on his Roundtable spaces.
Nawfal also founded and led a startup incubator called International Blockchain Consulting.
This firm reportedly heavily marked up services for incubated companies, despite promising to do it at no cost. International Blockchain Consulting was also paid for services by other Nawfal companies, including NFT Tech, to promote his own Twitter Spaces.
Twitter Spaces host Mario Nawfal’s dubious crypto dealings
Read more: FBI and SEC likely investigating Mario Nawfal after wave of complaints
Nawfal’s investment portfolio also appeared to be deep in the red when Upper Echelon made their video, raising concerns about his qualification as an investor for a show that is nominally about investment.
Anthony Scaramucci was infamously one of the shortest-lived Trump White House hires, serving just over a week as communications director in 2017. More relevant to his cryptocurrency bona fides is his deep relationship with Sam Bankman-Fried, a relationship in which he “opened up his Rolodex” to help Bankman-Fried get established.
Joseph Bankman warned Scaramucci about FTX
FTX Ventures purchased one-third of his firm, SkyBridge Capital, a few months before the collapse. As part of this deal, SkyBridge Capital took a long position in FTX Token (FTT). Scaramucci also claimed he received a call from Joseph Bankman a few days before the bankruptcy. This call preceded Scaramucci flying to the Bahamas and his firm and an FTX firm entering into a series of agreements described in the FTX bankruptcy as “Letter Agreement — Release and Unwinding of Certain Relationships Dated 11/9/2022.”
Outside of these agreements, Scaramucci has claimed that his investment in bitcoin more than compensated for his losses on FTT and that the quarter following the bankruptcy was one of his company’s best ever. It has also closed withdrawals for its funds, citing “extreme digital asset market conditions following the FTX bankruptcy.”
Hopefully, he still has enough funds to be considered a ‘Killer Whale.’
CryptoWendyO is a popular YouTuber covering cryptocurrency. She’s been accused of promoting a variety of different coins that ended up being scams, rug pulls, or otherwise illegitimate.
$XIV— alian (@AlianXBT) June 11, 2021
OK. Pump completed to the downside. Thanks!
Moving to the next. pic.twitter.com/zhiYdQbo8E
Read more: Leaked doc allegedly shows how much influencers charge to shill crypto on Twitter
Alex Finn, who goes by the name ‘NFT God,’ is an NFT collector and newsletter writer. He had the unfortunate experience earlier this year of having his wallets drained and his account hijacked to send out phishing scams to his followers.
Last night my entire digital livelihood was violated.— NFT God (@NFT_GOD) January 15, 2023
Every account connected to me both personally and professionally was hacked and used to hurt others.
Less importantly, I lost a life changing amount of my net worth
Also, unfortunately for him, the Mutant Ape he was able to get back currently has a high offer of 4.8 WETH, a sharp decrease from the 15.47 ether needed to purchase the Ape back after it was hacked.
Ran Neuner is a crypto YouTuber and influencer who has also run investment firms and media companies in the digital asset space.
He sometimes tweets his recommendations about specific cryptocurrencies, even cheekily including the text “this is financial advice.”
His team appeared to at least occasionally follow these recommendations by selling their positions right away.
Not financial advice: Three words crypto execs love to abuse
Gracy Chen is a managing director of Bitget, a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange.
Chen recently wrote a piece for Cointelegraph in which she argued that “in instances where misconduct has occurred and users have suffered financial losses, clear mechanisms are needed to initiate asset recovery from the guilty parties.”
In 2021, Bitget was suspended in Singapore for listing a token that pretended to be associated with the popular Korean band BTS.
Bitget suspended in Singapore for refusing to remove BTS-themed coin
Altcoin Daily is a YouTube channel that covers cryptocurrency. ZachXBT, an independent researcher, has shared a document that appears to show that Altcoin Daily charges $65,000 for promotion on its YouTube channel.
Lets do one more paid shill leak. This time for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. pic.twitter.com/hb600a1cDE— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) April 20, 2022
Zach did note further down in the thread that, as far as he knows, Altcoin Daily has always disclosed when it has been paid to promote cryptocurrencies.
Kevin Sonei is a comedian who frequently discusses cryptocurrency topics in his videos on Instagram.
He has made a few bumbles on his investment journey, at one point leaving himself “dead inside” after losing so much of his wealth in SafeMoon.
Killer Whales, home to Web3’s most credible grifters
Binance-owned CoinMarketCap is one of the most important websites in the cryptocurrency industry, receiving a self-reported 340 million views every month. This means that this project is connected to the world’s most popular exchange and most commonly used aggregator and still decided to choose judges that include:
- a Twitter Spaces host with no evidence of investment success accused of undisclosed shills,
- a failed White House aide who engaged in deeply suspicious transactions with FTX,
- a YouTuber who promotes coins that have a nasty habit of failing,
- an NFT expert who lost their main NFT in a hack,
- an influencer who offers ‘financial advice’ while his team sells the token,
- the managing director for an exchange that gets in trouble for how bad the assets it lists are,
- a comedian who almost lost everything on something called SafeMoon, and
- YouTubers who sell promos for tokens.
‘Killer Whales’ indeed.