Crypto Needs to Grow Up: Cornell Professor In Response to Controversy

A leading industry commentator who teaches at Cornell University, wrote on Twitter that the industry is in "dire need of adults in the room"
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Over the past day or two, members of the crypto community have been more enraged than usual, looking to two distinct events that made them question how mature this space really is.

In fact, in a tweet that went crypto-viral, a leading industry commentator who teaches at Ivy League school Cornell University, wrote on Twitter that the industry is in “dire need of adults in the room,” seemingly deeming that a majority of those working in this space (or at least the ones with a voice) are but children.

Crypto In “Dire Need of Adults”

In a tweet published Monday morning, Emin Gün Sirer — a Turkish-American computer scientist, professor at Cornell, and chief executive of blockchain upstart Ava Labs — said in a popular tweet that “this area,” in reference to the blockchain space, “is in dire need of adults in the room.”

Reading this line may have Blockonomi readers confused. What happened to make Sirer so angry?

Well, two things:

Firstly, the death of Kobe Bryant. On Sunday, it was revealed that the legendary Los Angeles Lakers player and family man, who also won an Oscar for a short film, died along with a number of others in a helicopter accident in a suburb outside of the City of Angels. Bryant died alongside one of his four daughters.

As Bryant was largely loved across the globe for his contributions to society, his skill on the court, and his overall work ethic and persona, anyone and everyone were quick to air their condolences on every social outlet they could find. Twitter was one such place.

Crypto executives like Justin Sun, CEO of Tron, were among those talking about Bryant’s unfortunate passing. Sun, along with his company, posted tweets like the one seen below, mentioning the names of Bryant and Tron in tandem, for the basketball player was a keynote speaker at the project’s flagship conference last year.

While seemingly made without ill intent, Sirer branded this a “‘selfie at a funeral'” event, where ” a shameless promoter was trying to use Kobe’s death to pump a coin.”

And the second case of immaturity Sirer was referring to was a recent number of cryptocurrency-related articles that mention the coronavirus, spinning this biological terror — which has infected nearly 5,000 and killed over 100 thus far — into a potential catalyst for growth in the Bitcoin market.

Sirer specifically was citing one article that (jokingly?) suggested the virus could be good for cryptocurrency conferences.

There was also a recent article posted to the Financial Times’ Alphaville column, in which a writer satirized this industry’s propensity to spin certain events as a way to shill Bitcoin or similar technologies:

Duh. Coronavirus is spreading through the exchange of DIRTY FILTHY FIAT banknotes. So don’t be a dummy, protect yourself and turn to digital-only crypto. No lurgies there.

Is It an Internet Culture Thing?

An opinionated aside: I believe that the industry’s propensity to involve itself in memes and act in ways that may be irrational is a byproduct of the fact that cryptocurrency is inherently digital.

Unlike other industries that involve person-to-person contact, companies can be spun up and money can be made in the crypto space without people using their real names, ever meeting, or acting in a way that may be deemed mature.

Yes, the online presence and widespread anonymity of the cryptocurrency community doesn’t excuse certain behaviors, but it would explain a lot.

Regardless of the nuances of this seeming immaturity, there are signs that there are more experienced companies and businesspeople delving into cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces. Some of those on this list include Fidelity Investments, Microsoft, Starbucks, and ING — all of which have recently delved into this industry in a notable fashion.

Not to mention, there is a growing level of regulation that may help to stamp out any business behavior in the cryptocurrency industry that some may deem questionable or insensitive.


Since 2013, Nick has shown interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. He has since become involved in the industry as a full-time content creator, working for NewsBTC, Bitcoinist, LongHash, among other outlets. Aside from covering the news, Nick is a Creative at Taiwanese technology company HTC. Contact

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