The State of TRON; As the Hype Settles, What’s Left for TRX Holders?

TRON (TRX) has undergone several transformations since it wrapped up a $70 million ICO in 2017.

First it was a promising ICO prospect with a plucky, fresh-faced CEO who had graduated from the prestigious Hupan University, and came with references from Alibaba’s Jack Ma. Despite being so young, Justin Sun had already worked on the board of Ripple, and was soon being included in Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30’ list, which ranked promising up and coming entrepreneurs.

But then TRON’s whitepaper was discovered to be plagiarized, and the increased scrutiny on Justin Sun produced more interesting revelations.

Justin Sun: Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Depending on which Chinese native you speak to, Jack Ma’s Hupan University is either a business school for the elite of the elite, or a trumped up marketing venture where rich parents can shop for their kids’ degrees.

Either way, Justin Sun claimed to be ‘the first millennial graduate’ of Hupan University since at least the inception of his Twitter account in 2017. Yet as late as May 2019 reports came out of TRON marketing circles that he had only just received his diploma in the same month. (Is it just me or does that pic seem photoshopped?)

And it wasn’t long before Sun’s history at Ripple came into question. This video of Ripple’s CMO emerged where he denied ever knowing anything about Justin Sun, noting that these impersonators appeared all the time.

In fairness, Sun is listed on a Ripple website going back to 2014. His greatest achievements at that time according to his bio were being a freelance writer and having a history degree.

But Sun’s reputation as a scammer wasn’t helped when it emerged that he had set up a company in China called ‘Ribble’ – yes Ribble. If you go to right now you will be redirected to the official TRON website.

TRON (TRX): The Rise of the Ethereum Killer

But $70 million worth of TRX was sold during the ICO in 2017, and it wasn’t long before early TRON investors were repaid handsomely for their early faith. From an ICO price of $0.00186, the value of TRX soared to $0.300363 by January 2018 – a 16,408% increase.

TRON was added to all the major exchanges, and by Q2 of 2018 was gearing up to launch its own mainnet and depart Ethereum. During this time, TRX was pitted as a possible competitor to Ethereum in the blockchain platform space (usually by Justin Sun himself).

The hype train continued into the autumn of 2018 as Sun acquired BitTorrent in a $120 million deal. While development of TRON DApps reached such a height that TRON soon became a number one platform for apps – by quantity, at least.

All of this adds up to a venture that was worth $16 billion for a few brief hours at its peak in January ‘18. Even here in Q2 2019 as we emerge from yearly lows – and despite all the controversy – TRON is still ranked just outside the top ten with a market cap of $1.5 billion.

Dapps… Dapps Everywhere!

Speaking of DApps, in less than a year TRON has become one of the prime, go-to platform for blockchain applications. Falling behind only EOS and Ethereum by number, TRON charged through the DApp rankings in late 2018. Now numerous TRON DApps are ranked in the top ten, and even more in the top twenty for daily volume.

Some of those include Cryptokitties clones, but most are gambling apps where users win or lose money by guessing higher or lower on a random number. As a native of the British isles the idea of legal gambling is nothing new to me. However I could understand those who would be shocked to learn that the greatest contribution a multi-billion dollar technology company has yet made is to facilitate easier access to gambling.

The constant racking up of DApp numbers looks great in a tweet or a weekly report. But closer inspection shows them all to be the same, and quantity won’t make up for quality any time soon.

Institutional Investors Aren’t Dumb

Question: Why do we never hear about institutions getting involved with TRX?

Answer: Because that ship sailed long ago.

If the humble cryptocurrency media have done their research on TRON and Justin Sun, then we can assume institutions, hedge fund managers and investment firms have done the same. TRX is notably absent from many of the popular cryptocurrency investment funds, such as Grayscale and Pantera Capital. Elon Musk is flirting with Ethereum. XRP is dealing with Saudi banks. Stellar is working with IBM. What’s TRON doing?

Some of the attention-grabbing antics which propelled the coin into the stratosphere in the first place might now count against it. Also, one has to wonder whether the acquisition of BitTorrent will hurt TRON. After all, torrenting is still illegal, and the SEC are unlikely to take kindly to a token which incentivizes illegal downloads (BitTorrent Token).


I haven’t even bothered to mention some of the smaller scandals that Justin Sun has found himself embroiled in. Faking social media numbers, running fake Tesla competitions, teasing fake partnerships with far more serious cryptocurrency players.

Most readers will already be familiar with many of Justin Sun’s ‘eccentricities’, and some still believe in the TRON project regardless. I am not trying to convince them otherwise. TRON will continue to be utilized for day-trading, and who knows, maybe developers will still produce a killer DApp one day.

But now that the hype has settled, TRON no longer has the benefit of being the unknown quantity; the new kid on the block. If the project is to succeed from here on out, it will have to so on technological grounds. Justin Sun’s word has become so untrustworthy that any success may have to come in spite of him, rather than because of him.

Note: For a more hopeful view of the TRON enterprise, check out The Long Term Bullish Case for TRON (TRX).

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.