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Justin Sun

Justin Sun is a entrepreneur and the founder of , one of the world's largest ecosystems, and Advisor to , a global exchange. [1]

Education

Sun holds a Master's Degree in Political Economy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor's in History from Peking University. He also participated in an exchange program at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he studied liberal arts and sciences. [1][2]

Early Life

Sun was born in 1990 in Xining, China. Sun's family is originally from Shandong, China, but he was born in Qinghai and grew up in Guangdong. He developed an early interest in the internet and struggled academically until he decided to focus on improving his grades and gained admission to Peking University. After graduating, he moved to the United States to pursue a Master's Degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He first learned about and began investing in it during this time. Sun later founded Peiwo, a mobile social application, before founding in 2017. [3][4][5]

Career

Sun founded Peiwo in 2013, a mobile social application that connects users through audio content such as podcasts and live streams. In 2014, Sun received the Davos Global Shaper Award from the World Economic Forum. In 2015, Sun was listed on Forbes' China 30 Under 30, a list created annually highlighting the leading and upcoming entrepreneurs under 30. In 2017, Sun became the founder of . [4][6][7]

Sun serves as Grenada's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which he joined in December 2021. In this role, he actively participates in deliberations and advocates using digital technologies, including blockchain, to bridge the developmental gap across economies and reinvigorate global trade. Since October 2022, he has also been a member of the Global Advisory Board for , a global digital economy company founded in 2013 to make breakthroughs in core technologies and integrate technology with other industries. [1][5][6]

TRON

In 2017, Sun became the founder and CEO of , a ecosystem built on technology. TRON aims to accelerate the internet's decentralization through blockchain technology and . In June 2018, TRON became independent of the network as a stand-alone blockchain and, in the following month, acquired , a platform for decentralized services and blockchain file storage. [8][9][10]

APENFT

In a 2022 interview with Artnet, Sun discussed how the was created and what led him to become an art collector: [16]

When I first got into the space, I was intrigued by how offers programmability and facilitates use cases and applications using , which dramatically change how we move digital and nontangible assets around. My early engagement with made me discover and realize the potential of from a very early stage, back to 2017. Back when I tried to bid for Everydays: The First 5000 Days by Beeple, I realized there is a huge gap between space and the traditional art world. Before goes mainstream, we have to educate the market and audience. was born to fill the need of bridging these two worlds together.

From artists’ perspective, they can create art and distribute it through online marketplaces bypassing elite-driven traditional gatekeepers who for centuries dictated what high art and good art are and who has access to it. technology enables artists, for the first time in history, to gain the power to control their own careers independently in the art world, by setting prices for their own work and obtaining resale royalties. This space is somehow more equitable because it facilitates diversity and representation. From the collector’s point of view, everyone can own and trade their digital assets freely, without having any trust. There is no longer a need to rely on a centralized party to verify the authenticity of an artwork when all the metadata related to the artwork is stored on a chain. The tokenization of an artwork will also have a huge impact on the art sector by increasing the liquidity of the art world while reaching a much wider audience.

He also discussed his hopes for the Foundation's future: [16]

We see ourselves as builders and contributors to the metaverse by facilitating the deeper integration of the physical and virtual world. We want to leverage this new technology to challenge traditional notions of art, and to remove barriers for those who want to participate either by creating or collecting. We will continue welcoming in new players and help traditional artists and brands navigate this space so that the space can grow larger with more diversity and inclusivity. In five years, owning digital assets will be exactly like owning any tangible assets in real life, and it will become a generalized phenomenon and way of living for the younger generation in our digital era.

Controversies

In 2017, Sun launched an for despite being warned that the Chinese government was planning to ban . The Chinese government had banned just days before the due to the high number of fraudulent and criminal activities, such as financial scams and pyramid schemes. Sun was spotted within a week after the at Incheon airport in South Korea, waiting for a flight to San Francisco, as people speculated his escape route from Beijing to Seoul. [15]

In January 2018, received heavy backlash as people accused their whitepaper of plagiarism -comparing it to other projects' documents such as , , , and other documents in the space. However, Sun quickly responded, stating that the problem was due to inaccuracies in translating from Chinese to English. [13][14]

Interviews

Crypto Art

On January 24th, 2022, Artnet interviewed Sun about the and art opportunities for his generation. The interview opened with his thoughts on his generation's characteristics: [17]

I would summarize the main characteristics that I identify our generation with as resilience, willingness to take risks, and strong faith. Born into the generation that experienced the country’s rapid economic growth, I find that there have been many opportunities in almost all industries since the 1990s, from manufacturing to financial services. After I graduated from the university, there was a new wave of “mass entrepreneurship” in the country. For people like me, the post-‘90s, the internet, and the digital age are the keywords to the future, so it was natural for me to start something as a young entrepreneur in internet-related activities.

The tricky part is to find one industry or sector that you are passionate about and delve into it. People might not understand what you are doing at first, but eventually you can prove yourself if you work hard and keep doing it. That was also my story with blockchain and bitcoin. People who know me might notice that I used to receive more criticism and doubt than applause in my career, but I’m glad after all these years I am still working on the next-generation internet, , and today everyone is talking about it. Now I believe in the , which is an inclusive and empowering version of not only the next internet but also the future of how people will live their day-to-day lives. I hope I can be part of building a truly decentralized and make it accessible and available to everyone. Another observation of our generation is that the post-‘90s don’t have an idol that everyone looks up to. Idols are dead, and everyone can become their own idol, which kind of represents the unique post-‘90s mindset. This idea is reinforced in the age of the internet and the democratization of media outlets, just like the celebrated quote by Andy Warhol that, “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” We’re living in an era where everyone has an opportunity.

He also shared his views on taking risks: [17]

Greater risks come with greater rewards. As an entrepreneur in and , I would say I’m indeed a risk-taker. I feel a sense and rush of excitement that comes with taking risks, which motivates me to work even harder. On the one hand, I am constantly improving my ability to control these risks by critically and thoroughly evaluating the potential of projects. For instance, since I began investing in , I’ve constantly studied the popular projects on the market, enabling me to see why some community-based projects gained success and some didn’t.

On the other hand, I have to follow and believe in my own instincts. This is especially true in , as this industry moves very quickly. I also believe scarcity and reward are positively correlated to some extent. Scarcity is often associated with higher barriers, which might mean that sometimes it is difficult to see the whole picture and all the details in the very early stage. Nevertheless, you just have to move quickly to seize the chance and risks that go with it. The rewards will come as a surprise!

When asked about place in art history and his new identity as an art collector, he responded: [17]

I am enjoying this new identity as a collector. In fact, I personally find there are many similarities between investing in and and collecting art.
and art, as asset classes, are both highly risky and volatile. Therefore, at the end of the day, you have to buy what you believe in and think is valuable. I always make a parallel between Picasso, as a pioneer of Cubism, and EtherRocks, which have been identified as one of the earliest on the by -archeologists. I believe EtherRocks are to history what Picasso’s contribution and significance as an artist is to art history.
In the long term, I believe that are the most important component of and a game-changer for the next stage of the internet. have the ability to revolutionize the existing trading model in the art market, especially for digital art. According to the Web 2.0 paradigm, it is difficult to prevent copyright infringement, which leads to digital artworks lacking the specific attributes of a unique asset. Even if users are willing to pay for a digital artwork, it is difficult to find the right platform and channels to purchase, trade, and sell it on the secondary market because the legitimate authorship and provenance have been difficult to track. Now, allow buyers to confirm ownership and make all information and data available to everyone, bringing a new mode of transaction and transparency to the art world.

This means that make clear the ontology of digital artworks in such transactions, allowing them to both be transacted with clear copyright and ownership records and also with a unique chain linking artists to their collectors. Moreover, artists who employ can be rewarded with resale royalties, which means that when their works are resold multiple times on the secondary market, they can continuously earn a small percentage of sales in each transaction. In the short term, have made a beachhead in the art market. Sales of reached some $25 billion in 2021, and 70 percent of buyers of at auction are new while 50 percent are under 40—all of which has greatly promoted the acceptance and recognition of digital art. At the same time, there are enormous possibilities for combinations in the ecosystem of , such as GameFi [the combination of gaming and ] and collateralized lending, et cetera. The economic value behind is used to provide continuous asset liquidity. If such a combination can succeed and have a practical business model, the NFT scene will look very different.

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Justin Sun

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July 12, 2024

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