Zhao Changpeng, the founder of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance, is being sued by one of the biggest venture capital giants for allegations of breaching an exclusivity agreement.
Bloomberg was first to report this and reported that Sequoia has now appealed to Hong Kong’s High Court to secure a temporary injunction to bar Zhao from negotiating with other investors, causing the dispute to go public and revealing insights into VC firms’ past valuations of the exchange.
— CZ (@cz_binance) April 26, 2018
They further reported that Zhao and Sequoia began negotiating terms in August 2017 for an 11% stake investment in Binance, at a proposed valuation of $80 million. However Zhao broke off the deal when Bitcoin soared to $20,000 USD and he felt that his side of the deal is undervalued. As the Sequoia deal fell through, the alleged exclusivity agreement breach involved another VC investment firm, IDG Capital, which reportedly expressed interest in investing in Binance over two funding rounds, at significantly higher valuations of $400 mln and $1 bln respectively.
The Hong Kong based exchange has a global offering and supports multiple languages including English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, French and German. Last month Prime Minister Joseph Muscat warmly welcomed the Binance cryptocurrency platform to Malta, the “blockchain island”.
Welcome to #Malta 🇲🇹 @binance. We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies -JM @SilvioSchembri https://t.co/3qtAQjOpuQ
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) March 23, 2018
Although the firms planned to settle the matter in arbitration, Sequoia turned to the court to prevent Binance from talking to other potential investors. Hong Kong codes have ordered Zhao not to talk to other investors until a hearing can be held to rule whether Zhao is liable for the allegations.
Zhao keeps the locations of Binance’s offices and servers secret, though he has previously said that the exchange is based in Hong Kong. Last month, Zhao announced that Binance was setting up operations on the European island nation of Malta.