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Blockhead's Crypto Industry Awards 2023

Sit back, relax, and join us as we roll out the digital red carpet. It's time to celebrate the past year in the crypto universe by tipping our hats to those that made the past year special, and those that left our wallets empty.

Table of Contents

In a world where blockchain and cryptocurrency often take themselves a bit too seriously, we at Blockhead have decided to lighten the mood. Introducing the Blockhead's 2023 Crypto Industry Awards – a unique celebration that combines the fast-paced, innovative world of crypto and it's larger-than-life main characters.

Forget the conventional accolades for market performance and technological breakthroughs. The Blockhead Awards are here to honor the unconventional, the bizarre, and the hilarious.

The Blockhead's 2023 Crypto Industry Awards starts now – because if we can't laugh at ourselves, then who can we laugh at?

Popularity Award

This award recognizes individuals in the crypto space who have garnered significant attention and influence.

Awarded to: Gary Gensler

Gary Gensler (Image: Third Way Think Tank on Flickr)

Gensler's unwavering commitment to regulation, often at odds with the freewheeling spirit of crypto enthusiasts, has earned him a special place in the industry – albeit not for reasons of admiration.

The SEC's actions under his leadership, such as increasing scrutiny on major exchanges like Coinbase and Binance, have been perceived as overly aggressive by many in the crypto sector. This has led to criticism that Gensler is disproportionately focusing on the crypto industry, potentially stifling innovation and driving crypto businesses out of the U.S. His assertive stance on cryptocurrencies being securities and his personal engagement in social media discussions on crypto regulation have further fueled debates about his approach and intentions.

Being popular doesn't always mean being favored, but it certainly means you cannot be ignored. Cheers, Gary!

Crypto Clairvoyant Award

An individual or entity that made a highly publicized and bold crypto price prediction in 2023 that was either remarkably accurate or wildly off the mark.

Awarded to: Balaji Srinivasan

Image: Blockhead

Balaji Srinivasan, the former CTO of Coinbase, made a bet in March that Bitcoin's price would reach $1 million within 90 days, amid a period of bank failures and hyperinflation. When he placed the bet, Bitcoin was trading around $27,000. However, he closed the bet early, paying out $1.5 million, which included donations to Bitcoin Core, Give Directly, and James Medlock. Srinivasan stated that the bet was a means to raise public awareness about the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policies​. Whatever the case

He wins the award for his memorable, albeit highly inaccurate, Bitcoin prediction. And thanks, Balaji, for reminding us of the inherent unpredictability of cryptocurrency markets and that betting on Bitcoin's value is always a gamble, given its volatile and often unpredictable nature.

Digital Shadow Master Award

A group or entity that has demonstrated significant skill and cunning in the digital realm, particularly in the context of cybersecurity.

Awarded to: Lazarus Group

FBI wanted notice for one of the hackers of Lazarus Group, Park Jin Hyok (Image: Wikicommons)

Lazarus was responsible for over $300 million in losses from crypto hacking incidents, constituting 17.6% of the total losses for the year.

The North Korean hacker group has become notorious for large-scale crypto attacks and for targeting crypto protocols. In September, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also pointed its fingers at Lazarus for allegedly stealing $41 million from cryptocurrency-based sports betting platform Another incident includes a $70 million theft from CoinEx in the same month.

Investigations suggest Lazarus has amassed over $3 billion through digital heists, contributing to 50% of North Korea's ballistic missile program funding.

Web3’s Darkest Moments in 2023, Ranked From Worst to Best
Crypto may be ending 2023 on a high but there were some pretty dark moments in the industry this year including SBF, Changpeng Zhao, JPEX, KyberSwap, Lazarus and even Hamas

Golden Parachute Award

A CEO or high-profile executive in the crypto space who left their position in 2023 under dramatic or notable circumstances.

Awarded to: Binance senior executives

  • Jonathan Farnell - Chief of Binance's UK arm and CEO of its payments subsidiary Bifinity
  • Stéphanie Cabossioras - General Manager of Binance France
  • Vladimir Smerkis - General Manager of the CIS region
  • Gleb Kostarev - Regional President for Eastern Europe, the CIS, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Leon Foong - Head of Asia Pacific
  • Patrick Hillman - Chief Strategy Officer
  • Han Ng - General Counsel
  • Brian Shroder - Binance.US CEO
  • Mayur Kamat - Binance's global head of product
  • Changpeng Zhao - CEO

Most of these executives cited "personal reasons" and a "well-deserved break" for leaving the exchange. With regulators breathing down Binance's neck, now seems an inconvenient time to take a personal break.

CZ Steps Down But Who is Binance’s New Singaporean CEO, Richard Teng?
Ex-MAS Director Richard Teng is taking the helm at Binance as Changpeng Zhao steps down, but who exactly is this mysterious Singaporean?

Houdini Escape Artist Award

A cryptocurrency firm or exchange that abruptly ceased operations or became inaccessible, leaving users in limbo.

Awarded to: JPEX

Image: Blockhead

We witnessed this one for ourselves. On Day 1 of TOKEN2049, JPEX was one of the countless crypto booths, shilling their products and luring unexpecting crypto folk with their ugly merch. On Day 2, their booth was stripped clean.

Why? On Wednesday (Day 1 of TOKEN2049), the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a warning about JPEX, accusing it of “suspicious features” and disseminating misleading information about its licenses. JPEX claimed on their website that its platform is “licensed and recognised” to facilitate the trading of virtual assets with several overseas regulators - a claim the SFC refutes.

“No entity in the JPEX group is licensed by the SFC or has applied to the SFC for a license to operate a VATP in Hong Kong,” it said.

TOKEN2049 Day 2: We Need To Talk About JPEX
TOKEN2049 is DONE, and so is JPEX. Check out what CZ, Balaji Srinivasan, the Winklevii and Arthur Hayes shared yesterday too

The agency notified relevant influencers, opinion leaders and OTC shops and requested they “cease promoting JPEX and its related services and products”, it said.

A source close to Blockhead shared screenshots that allegedly show a user attempting to withdraw 1000 USDT on the exchange, only to face service fees of 999 USDT, resulting in a 1 USDT withdrawal.

The Blockhead team visited JPEX's barren booth at TOKEN2049. With a few T-shirts being scavenged by those passing by, and a deserted gachapon machine with stacks of coins aside it, the booth's post-apocalyptic vibe was something to marvel at.

Hong Kong police have since arrested 66 people in connection. 2,623 people have come forward as victims in the case involving losses of around HK$1.6 billion.

The Golden Arch Innovator Award

The most groundbreaking and consumer-friendly NFT (Non-Fungible Token) initiative in the fast-food industry. It recognizes a project that not only embraces the digital age but also enhances customer experience in a tangible, appetizing way.

Awarded to: McDonald's

Their innovative use of NFTs transcends the digital world to offer real-world value. The Grimace-themed NFT, which grants holders a free item every week, is a perfect blend of modern digital technology and classic consumer engagement, setting a new standard for corporate NFT projects. This award celebrates the creative integration of blockchain technology in everyday consumer life, making the digital asset space more accessible and enjoyable for the general public.

It's a dear one for Blockhead who continue to proudly display their Grimace NFTs as their Telegram profile pictures.

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The buzzword of 2022, “NFT” fell on hushed tones through 2023’s brutal crypto winter. Now that the market has entered bull-mode, are we seeing the re-eme…

Dog of the Year

Memecoins and dogs are practically synonymous at this point. This award honours the most paw-some project that fetched the biggest bone.

Awarded to: BONK

Whilst BONK may have fallen from its December highs, the dog-themed meme coin is still up 12000% this year. Compared to its doggy rivals SHIB and DOGE, which are up 35% and 32% respectively over the year, BONK has emerged as the alpha dog of 2023.

Unlike traditional memecoins, which offer no core fundamentals, BONK developers are building a full-fledged community coin to be used across all the dApps built on Solana. Each user has the opportunity to be part of its ecosystem.

BONK Soars 664% as Memecoin Season Blooms
$BONK, $SNEK, $PEPE, $FLOKI, $DOGE, $SHIBA memecoins are making Degens very, very rich

Snake of the Year

Whether it's fraud, scams, deception or backstabbing, the crypto industry can be a brutal arena of savagery, narcissism and cruelty. This award goes to the person whose self-preservation reached new levels of importance at the expense of their allies.

Awarded to: Caroline Ellison

We might not have any sympathy for SBF but his now ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison seemingly had even less. Taking the stand in October to testify against the crypto mogul-turned-crypto villain, Ellison offered juicy details on their relationship and billion-dollar crypto conspiracy, effectively throwing her ex-boyfriend under the bus.

SBF Trial: Ex-Girlfriend Caroline Ellison Spills the Tea
Love was in the air but now no love is lost between SBF and Caroline Ellison. Also, the FCA has wasted no time in enforcing the UK’s new crypto marketing regulations, crypto talent is moving back to tradfi, and more.

Potentially facing 110 years in prison for her role in the FTX fallout, Ellison submitted a guilty plea to seven charges including fraud in December 2022.

In an attempt to clear her name as much as possible, Ellison has now resorted to throwing her ex-boyfriend under the bus. Testifying yesterday, Ellison said she was at the mercy of SBF who pulled the strings as FTX collapsed.

“He directed me to commit these crimes,” she said of her ex. She repeatedly insisted that SBF was steering the ship, even calling FTT "Sam's coins."

When asked to identify SBF in the courtroom, Ellison stood for as long as 30 seconds to point at SBF, saying he was “over there wearing a suit.”

Lamb of the Year

A true team player, the award goes to someone who shed some blood for the greater good.

Awarded to: Changpeng "CZ" Zhao

just a few months ahead of potential Bitcoin ETF approvals (Bloomberg predicts a 90% chance of approval by 10 January), Binance was lumbered with a $4.3 billion fine whilst Changpeng Zhao himself agreed to pay a $50 million penalty.

CZ consequently stepped down from his CEO position, making way for ex-MAS director Richard Teng to take the helm.

CZ Left Binance... Should You Also Leave For Coinbase, OKX, Etc?
$1 billion has left Binance alongside its CEO, CZ. OKX, Bybit, Bitstamp, Coinbase are looking tempting

Pleading guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act, CZ has now been prohibited from returning from the US to the United Arab Emirates as he awaits his sentencing in February 2024.

CZ was released on a $175 million personal recognizance bond, which originally allowed him to return to the UAE, where his children and partner live.

It was a dark moment for Binance but a bright one for the industry as $1 billion flooded out of the world's largest exchange and flowed into its (cleaner) competitors.


CertiK: White Hat or Black Sheep?

CertiK: White Hat or Black Sheep?

The security firm faces accusations of extortion after exploiting a vulnerability in Kraken, a major cryptocurrency exchange. CertiK allegedly demanded a ransom for the return of stolen funds instead of following responsible disclosure procedures.