This year is starting out rough for Binance.
Zhao Changpeng, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange giant Binance, has been sued in Hong Kong’s High Court by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital after allegedly violating an exclusivity agreement by engaging with another venture capital firm.
Binance—despite only coming into business in July 2017, rose quickly to become the largest cryptocurrency exchange by January 2018. According to court filings, Sequoia started its relationship with Binance in August, bidding for a nearly 11% stake in the company which they valued at around $80 million at the time. Negotiations stretched on for months, however, with Zhao saying in December last year that their valuation of the exchange was too low.
The other venture capital firm in question—IDG Capital—allegedly came into the picture with a far bigger valuation of Binance, and a far bigger offer. According to Bloomberg, IDG offered two rounds of substantial funding: $400 million and $1 billion. The legality of this negotiation between Binance and IDG was challenged by Sequoia, which brought the case to court. An order was handed down banning Binance from entertaining other investors.
This isn’t the only problem Binance faced in recent months. In February, Binance had to temporarily shut down their platform, citing server issues. But this spiralled into an FUD battle against John McAfee, who later apologized for fanning the flame.
About a month later, the exchange fell victim to a breach which saw hackers infiltrating some users’ accounts and using their funds to pump a little known altcoin. This prompted the exchange to put a $250,000 bounty over the hackers’ heads. The exchange also allocated an additional $10 million in rewards for any other hacks that may happen in the future.
Unfortunately, all this commotion also triggered alarm bells from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). Binance received a warning of closure from the FSA, saying they have to comply with licensing requirements if they want to continue their operations. This confirmed an earlier report by news agency Nikkei , who Zhao accused of “irresponsible journalism” as he was initially denying any issues with the FSA.
Zhao Tweeted afterwards that they are finding a solution. “We received a simple letter from JFSA about an hour ago. Our lawyers called JFSA immediately, and will find a solution,” he wrote.