DL News turns one: A look at our biggest stories of the year

DL News turns one: A look at our biggest stories of the year
DL News celebrates its first anniversary of publication with our biggest stories of the year. Credit: Andrés Tapia

DL News has spent a year reporting on the best and worst of crypto.

Over that time, the cryptoverse has bristled with courtroom drama, jetway arrests, multi-million dollar hacks, and Wall Street muscling in on Bitcoin.

Our first year was a productive one — the chickens of 2022′s wave of collapses came to roost, with arrests, enforcement actions, and louder calls for global regulation.

And as mainstream financial adoption kicks off with spot Bitcoin ETF approval in the US, we see an explosive year ahead.

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Here are our top stories of the year.

Breaking news

Mark Cuban on how he lost $870,000 to crypto scam — ‘They must have been watching’

By Ekin Genç and Adam Morgan McCarthy

It isn’t every day that reporters inform billionaires they’ve been hacked but that’s what happened in September when Ekin and Adam Morgan McCarthy told Mark Cuban it looked like he just got taken for $870,000. Cuban confirmed the scoop, which went viral.

El Salvador offers citizenship to those with $1m Bitcoin or Tether as its own Bitcoin bet pays off

By Ekin Genç

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Ever watchful for surprising crypto moves, Ekin Genç reported on El Salvador’s next step in its Bitcoin experiment. This was one of our most read stories of the year.

Bankman-Fried concedes that Alameda enjoyed ‘special privileges’ with FTX

By Aleks Gilbert

Aleks Gilbert, our New York correspondent, had a front row seat at the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder and onetime CEO of defunct crypto exchange FTX. DL News wove reaction to Michael Lewis’ controversial book on Bankman-Fried into its reports, plus the trial’s significance for the digital assets industry when the verdicts came in.

FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty of all charges in fraud trial

By Aleks Gilbert

Crypto rejoiced when SBF went down, but deep structural problems may be ticking time bomb

By Aleks Gilbert

In this courtroom journal, Aleks wrote on what the trial augurs for the crypto industry. Readers engaged with this story in a big way.

Do Kwon was nabbed in a private jet on tarmac in Montenegro with false Costa Rican passport

By Isabel Hunter and Ana Ćurić

Anticipating that Serbian officials were poised to arrest Do Kwon, the fugitive founder of Terra, we dispatched investigative reporter Isabel Hunter to Belgrade to work with locally based Ana Ćurić, our data correspondent.

They broke a series of exclusive reports on Kwon activities in the Balkans, and for weeks set the pace on coverage of the case, which is ongoing.

DL News found Kwon’s private jet, with an exclusive photograph:

Was this Do Kwon’s getaway jet to Dubai?

by Isabel Hunter and Ana Ćurić

And we used classic shoe leather reporting to find a luxe flat Kwon purchased in Belgrade.

Do Kwon associate Han bought $2.2m flat in Belgrade during manhunt

by Isabel Hunter and Ana Ćurić

After our story was published, Serbian cops raided the flat:

EXCLUSIVE: Police seize $2.2m Belgrade apartment where Do Kwon hid during six-month manhunt

by Isabel Hunter and Ana Ćurić

Investigative reports

Crypto may be a fast, ever changing story but it also runs deep, especially when it comes to the legerdemain that has left many investors rug pulled, ripped off, and chastened.

DL News dug deep into the crypto underworld to produce some of our most impactful stories of the year.

How a mysterious crypto exchange used an insider trading scam to swipe $3m from wealthy victims

By Callan Quinn

Organised crime groups in Southeast Asia are deploying a variation of the romantic investment grift to fleece crypto investors of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The scams are called pig butchering, and Callan Quinn, DL News’ Hong Kong correspondent, interviewed victims and financial crime experts to uncover a phantom crypto exchange involved in the swindles, and chronicle the efforts of a woman trying to expose the perpetrators.

She lost $80,000 in a crypto romance scam. Now she’s fighting back

By Callan Quinn

Polkadot workers endured ‘Hunger Games’ retreat after getting news of mass layoffs, employees say

By Tim Craig and Inbar Preiss

When word started trickling out about a weird retreat involving Polkadot, Tim Craig and Inbar Preiss went to work.

What they discovered may be the most awkwardly timed offsite ever, and trouble for the DeFi blockchain network led by legendary Ethereum developer Gavin Wood. This was one of our most read and engaged stories of the year.

Waves founder’s role in lost $530m raises questions about who’s to blame

By Tim Craig and Isabel Hunter

Picking up the trail of investors who lost millions on a blockchain network called Waves, Tim did intrepid work reporting on one of the most eye-opening episodes in crypto.

Working with Isabel, Tim disentangled the many-layered enterprise led by Aleksandr Ivanov. The story was a hot topic in DeFi circles.

The DeFi beat

Plumbing DeFi is core at DL News. With a bear market and a spate of hacks and exploits roiling the space in 2023, understanding the dynamics at work in DeFi was critical.

MakerDAO may parlay its profitable real-world assets strategy into the $1.5tn private credit market

By Osato Avan-Nomayo

As a DeFi lender that weathered the bear market better than so many other crypto ventures, MakerDAO is an important story.

Osato Avan-Nomayo landed a timely interview to report how Maker may move into private credit, one of the hottest areas in finance.

Vesta Finance token soars 150% as DeFi protocol is rocked by rage quit proposal

By Osato Avan-Nomayo

Osato also blazed a trail on covering the “rage quitting " phenomenon in DeFi. With the tokens of so many DeFi protocols in the dumps, groups of investors sought to exit their stakes by either wholly or partially liquidating treasuries.

Harmony execs mismanaged funds and bullied workers, ex-staff claim

by Tim Craig

Tim Craig’s sourcing prowess was on vivid display in this exposé on alleged management misconduct at the Harmony blockchain network. Digging into what’s truly going on in opaque organisations is a priority at DL News. This story made a big splash in the Harmony community and DeFi at large.

Multichain workers in China fear for safety after CEO’s arrest, says Fantom boss

By Aleks Gilbert

This scoop also showed DL News’ depth when it came to sourcing crypto stories. A bizarre and disturbing tale.

Regulatory analysis

From the outset, DL News was determined to help readers understand the importance of regulation in crypto. But even we were taken aback at how monumental this trend turned out to be in 2023.

SEC’s shock absence from Binance settlement means Gary Gensler can dominate crypto

By Joanna Wright

Making good on his vow to force the crypto industry to comply with federal securities laws, Gary Gensler, chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, led an unprecedented crackdown on the sector.

Joanna Wright provided readers with insight into the regulatory and legislative cross-currents in Washington.

Elizabeth Warren’s anti-crypto crusade may bolster Wall Street’s land grab in Bitcoin market

By Joanna Wright

EU crypto chief vows to ‘strike the right balance’ as officials begin enforcing landmark MiCA law

By Inbar Preiss

Recognising that the European Union’s regulation of crypto would be a game changer, Inbar Preiss worked her sources in Brussels and Paris to provide readers with high-grade intelligence on the issue.

She landed interviews with policymakers and covered the EU’s push to build blockchain infrastructure. Inbar’s stories were among our most engaged on LinkedIn.

European Union launches institution to build blockchain infrastructure across continent

By Inbar Preiss

French regulators race to get a jump on MiCA and make Paris Europe’s web3 hub

By Inbar Preiss

How Binance’s crimes augur new era of state-approved monitors and ‘suspicious activity reports’

By Edward Robinson, Inbar Preiss, and Adam Morgan McCarthy

After US prosecutors won a guilty plea from Binance and a $4 billion penalty, DL News analysed a key element in the settlement: the appointment of an independent monitor. There was very high reader engagement on this story.

Market Action

A number of trends came together as the crypto bear morphed into a bull in 2023.

Silvergate short seller says he’s betting against Signature: ‘Binance is next’

By Trista Kelley

With so much angst in the crypto market in early 2023, this exclusive from Trista Kelley on how short sellers were sizing up major players like Binance struck a chord. It was one of our best read market stories of the year.

Why Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest sold millions in Coinbase shares just as they rose 82%

By Adam Morgan McCarthy

In this lucid piece of market analysis, Adam Morgan McCarthy explains why Wood made what seemed to be a counterintuitive move. Readers ate it up.

Bitcoin ETF will get nod in 2023 because SEC’s Gensler ‘needs a win,’ says Galaxy’s Novogratz

By Thomas Carreras

As anticipation for a Bitcoin ETF surged, this story by Thomas Carreras captured the crypto market zeitgeist of 2023 and was a hit with readers.

The real reason behind BlackRock boss Larry Fink’s sudden love of Bitcoin

By Tyler Pearson and Thomas Carreras

Larry Fink’s turnaround on Bitcoin — and iShares’ application for an ETF — was one of the biggest stories of the year. Our Markets team covered it from many angles. Readers loved this smart take on Fink’s motivations.

Over 90% of Ethereum ETF trading volume is down to two funds

By Adam Morgan McCarthy and Thomas Carreras

Examining concentration in the Ethereum ETF trade yielded this surprising revelation.

How Larry Fink, Cathie Wood and the rest of Wall Street are cornering Bitcoin

By Adam Morgan McCarthy and Edward Robinson

This trend piece was a big hit at the end of the year, and no wonder — the prospects of a Bitcoin ETF electrified the crypto market.

How secretive speed-trading firms like Jump and Jane Street make a killing in crypto

By Trista Kelley and Joanna Wright

The fusion of traditional market players and crypto was a major theme this year. This story was an early look at how speed-trading firms were raking in profits in the digital assets space.

Investors pull $4bn from Binance as regulators and rivals close in

By Eric Johansson, Adam Morgan McCarthy, and Trista Kelley

Utilising data from our sister outfit, DefiLlama, the authors reported on how Binance’s legal woes were driving investors to pull deposits from the leading global crypto exchange. This widely read story foreshadowed the trouble to come for Changpeng Zhao.

Profiles

DL News cast a spotlight on top newsmakers in 2023.

Binance co-founder Yi He didn’t come up in the bombshell $4bn money laundering case — who is the former TV host?

By Callan Quinn

With expectations mounting Binance was going to be charged by US prosecutors with financial crimes, Callan wrote this revealing profile about a senior executive who’d long been eclipsed by Zhao. The story was one of our best read profiles of the year, with high engagement.

A 20-year-old Argentinian behind the $200m Euler hack says he’s now in a Paris jail

By Ekin Genç

Interviews with the incarcerated are never easy to obtain, but Ekin managed to land a cracker with Federico Jaime, the man who claimed to be the author of one of the most notorious hacks in crypto in 2023. This is one of our best read exclusives of the year.

‘Manipulative’ SBF led Alameda’s co-founder to quit in 2018 — who is Tara Mac Aulay?

By Adam Morgan McCarthy

Profiling an early Bankman-Fried colleague who got out when the getting was good, Adam produced one of our most scintillating and widely read pieces of the trial.

Meet the prosecutor who claws back millions from crypto scams: ‘I’ve had grown men crying on the phone to me’

By Eric Johansson

Eric’s report on the efforts of a California prosecutor to expose pig butchering scams opened a series of DL News stories on the worrisome trend.

Andre Cronje: The rise and fall of a DeFi God

By Paige Aarhus

DL News debuted in December 2022 with this tour-de-force from Paige Aarhus on the founder of Yearn Finance, one of the most influential voices in decentralised finance.

The web3 beat

Milady NFTs lose 40% of their value as founders trade accusations in dueling lawsuits

By Aleks Gilbert

This legal battle had it all — conflict, a treasured NFT collection, and a “taboo culture” of outrage. Aleks navigated the labyrinth in one of the best web3 reads of the year.

Shiba Inu designer fights to stop commercialisation of memecoin — tattoos are fine but co-branding is not

By Callan Quinn

Readers loved this well-crafted tale of a designer trying to control his handiwork in the freewheeling world of web3. One of our most engaged stories of the year.

Timelines

Getting a handle on the ins and outs of the complex narratives in 2023 was no mean feat. This is why Tyler produced a series of invaluable chronologies of top news events. Needless to say, readers loved them.

SBF found guilty: A timeline of FTX, one of the worst failures in crypto history

By Tyler Pearson

Ripple vs SEC — a $200m showdown that’s been brewing for two decades

By Tyler Pearson

Data stories

Unearthing trends and news in crypto often depends on data analysis. Ana crunched the numbers to find important developments in decentralised finance in 2023.

Working with Inbar, Ana reported on the top destinations for crypto ventures in Europe. And Ana and Tim charted and explained the surge in Lido’s deposits.

Czechia on top and Belgium MIA: Five surprising takeaways from our Europe Crypto Tracker

By Ana Ćurić and Inbar Preiss

See how Lido’s deposits soared 188% this year and blew away the rest of DeFi

By Ana Ćurić and Tim Craig

Tapping data from our sister outfit, DefiLlama, Ana and Tim spotlighted the explosive growth in the staking giant.

Dispatches

From the outset, DL News covered crypto like the global story it is, with correspondents in Hong Kong, Lagos, Brussels, New York, Costa Rica, and London. Here’s a few of our best stories from far-flung locales:

Javier Milei may love Bitcoin, but Argentinians facing 185% inflation told us crypto is not the answer

by Thomas Carreras

Tom walked the streets and hung out in the cafés of Buenos Aires to learn what young Argentinians truly felt about their volatile new leader. A great read.

Israeli crypto exec fears 20% staff exodus as political upheaval lays bare cracks in startup nation image

By Inbar Preiss

Inbar covered marches by hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting controversial changes to the judiciary, and caught up with crypto folk to learn what the tumult meant for the nation’s vibrant startup culture.

Lebanon’s crypto brokers dodge turmoil and masked gunmen to serve clients

By Jacob Russell

Contributing writer Jacob Russell wrote this extraordinary story on the lengths stablecoin brokers must go in the volatile Mediterranean nation.

Arrest of Turkey’s failed crypto exchange boss kicks off hunt for answers

By Ekin Genç

Ekin landed interviews with key players in a mysterious case in Turkey involving allegations of fraud, money laundering, and losses that may range from $24 million to $2.2 billion.

Columns

DL News is proud to feature a pair of sage voices — Robert Holloway, who writes our award-winning Ombudsman’s Column, and Wolfgang Münchau, who writes on an array of economic and investment topics related to crypto.

Down the rabbit hole: How crypto impacts the English language

By Robert Holloway

Charlie Munger’s disgust for crypto was political. But I’m keeping an open mind

By Wolfgang Münchau

How our DeFi reporter keeps his finger on the pulse of DAOs

By Robert Holloway

Why they hate you

By Wolfgang Münchau

Tyler Pearson is a Markets Correspondent at DL News. Reach out at ty@dlnews.com. Edward Robinson is DL News’ story editor. Have a tip? Contact him at ed@dlnews.com.