A hedge fund manager whose firm was ravaged by FTX’s November collapse is now warning of a second-coming “implosion” at Binance.
On Tuesday, Ikigai Asset Management founder Travis Kling published a historical timeline outlining a history of “negative events” at Binance since December 2022, attracting attention from some of the exchange’s top brass.
How Binance Resembles FTX
Kling’s timeline includes over 40 events that have cast a shadow of doubt over Binance’s trustworthiness over the past year. Some include its withdrawal from jurisdictions like Canada, mass layoffs, and dual lawsuits from the United States’ chief market regulators.
During an interview with The Delphi Podcast on Thursday, Kling said he suspects Binance may have an FTX-like asset-liability mismatch – which is when exchanges don’t have enough assets to cover an influx of customer withdrawal requests. He cited the exchange’s alleged failure to segregate customer assets as exacerbating the likelihood of such a collapse.
“Is there more BNB than people want back there?” he asked. “If it turns out that he’s been buying BNB to prop up the price so that it doesn’t collapse and open up this hole, and he’s been digging into customer deposits to do that, it really is kind of an FTX 2.0.”
When asked why the exchange hasn’t collapsed despite its turbulence, Kling speculated two possible reasons: Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ)’s use of his own vast wealth to buffer the company, and his large degree of trust with Asian investors.
Binance Execs Respond
One source of concern around Binance was its abrupt wave of executive departures this year – most recently with ex-product head Mayur Kamat resigning from his position.
Nevertheless, Patrick Hillman – an earlier departee from Binance – came to the exchange’s defense in response to Kling. “Binance has not collapsed because it has the largest market share in the world’s most important crypto markets” he argued on Wednesday.
Though not a direct response, CZ took to X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday to dispel worries about “negative news/rumors” around Binance, instead listing some positive developments for the firm this year.
“There are also: won court cases, bank run handled and then record deposits, new fiat channels, smooth sunsetting of old products and launching of new products, new hires, new markets,” he wrote.
“All withdrawals (and deposits) are properly handled. All customer funds are SAFU, and 100% reserved,” he added.