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Who is Arthur Hayes: Pioneer of Crypto Madness
1970-01-01 08:00 Update

Arthur Hayes is an African-American entrepreneur and banker born in 1985, and a cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX One of the co-founders. BitMEX is one of the world's largest cryptocurrency derivatives exchanges, specializing in futures, options, and perpetual contracts for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Together with the founders of BitMEX, he invented the perpetual contract that changed the Crypto trading landscape.

Hayes graduated from the famous Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He worked as a trader in a bank in his early years. After being exposed to Bitcoin, he chose to join the forefront of the cryptocurrency revolution and founded an exchange. He was once worth more than 1 billion, becoming the youngest African-American Billionaire in history. In 2022, Hayes was indicted by the Department of Justice for violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, and soon after voluntarily pleaded guilty, he was eventually sentenced to six months of home confinement, two years of probation, and fined $10 million. Nowadays, Hayes has made enough money, has enough youthful frivolity, has been in court, and has been in jail. He has escaped from the hardships of the United States, deeply cultivated in Asia, and found a comfortable place to write short compositions.

This article combines various materials and narrates the life story of Hayes in a humorous tone. It can be clearly seen that it is his excellent educational background, bold and careful thinking, values that pursue high risks and high returns, and his rebellious adventurer character that made Hayes what he is today.

The early experience of a financial wizard

Although Hayes' family conditions are not generous, they are by no means poor. He was born in a middle-class American family. Both his parents were employees of General Motors. He was born in Detroit. In order for his children to go to a good school, his parents sent him to a private school in Buffalo, New York State next door.

Hayes showed athletic talent in middle school. He once participated in the school tennis team and was also a member of the school cross-country running team (Cross country cross-country running, a medium- to long-distance race in a wild natural environment, usually with a short track, no more than 12 kilometers). Hayes also used his sports achievements to get a scholarship. Later, in college, he also won the "Mr. Penn" school bodybuilding competition.

His ambitions first emerged when he was in college. After being admitted to the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, Hayes and his friends went to the Penn University gym (in the building next to the Wharton School) at 5:30 every morning to exercise?️. According to an interview with NY magazine, Hayes said they would use the dawn to think about their future and "daydream" about becoming a billionaire.

A friend who trained with him once said: "I think he regarded himself as a kind of financial wizard, a financier, more like Gordon Gecko. ) instead of Mark Zuckerberg."

I don’t want to be in Buffalo, I want to go to China

He has never been willing to follow the rules. Hayes, who has a rebellious personality, believes that if he goes to Manhattan or Wall Street after graduation, he will become just like other classmates and will not see new and interesting ways out, so he decided to find another way. During the summer vacation of his junior year (2007), he finally secured an internship opportunity at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong. Hayes then boarded a flight to Hong Kong and began his trip to Asia.

Hayes: "The old hats in Buffalo will not leave here. I don't want to stay in Buffalo."

Reporter: "What about going to Manhattan? ?”

Hayes: “Why do I have to do the same thing as my classmates? I will get the same results as them.”

As a student who has not yet graduated As an intern, Hayes, who just arrived in Hong Kong, in addition to his own work, is also responsible for buying lunch for his leaders. Interestingly, he once mentioned this experience in one of his blog posts: “I charge a pretty hefty tip on every meal and make hundreds of dollars in profit every week. To avoid letting you I feel that my behavior is unethical. In fact, everyone in the trading department knows what I am doing and acquiesces to it. They know it very well."

Can I get a formal job by going to the nightclub "Pu"? Hayes is like that. As the graduation season approached, Deutsche Bank appointed several recruiters to come to Penn State for recruitment. During the interview, Hayes said that he liked to hang out in nightclubs in Hong Kong, and one of the interviewers asked him what interesting nightlife there was in Philadelphia. He recommended some places. The final result was that they all drank unconsciously at the Philly House in Philadelphia, and Hayes got his first formal job after graduation as a trader at Deutsche Bank's Hong Kong branch.

Hayes’ open and swaggering personality has been evident since his internship. Casual Friday has become popular in Hong Kong in recent years, that is, employees are not required to wear formal attire on Fridays. This was also the case at Hayes' bank at the time. According to his own blog post, he was still an analyst intern at the time. One Friday, an executive passed by his desk and saw him, and asked his direct boss: Who the fuck is that? (Who is this?) The direct leader looked up and saw: Hayes was wearing a pink tight polo shirt, washed-out jeans and a pair of bright yellow sneakers. So from then on, there was no Casual Friday in the entire department. This kid is always testing the edge of danger.

A first look at Bitcoin

In 2013, Hayes first learned about Bitcoin, when he had already moved from Deutsche Bank to Citibank. , but was soon laid off by Citibank. According to his own recollection, his first transaction was to buy BTC spot from the Mt Gox exchange, then deposit it into the ICBIT exchange (the exchange that invented the currency-based contract), and then sell a BTC contract at a premium that expired in June of the same year. The net profit of the BTC/USD currency-based futures contract was as high as 200%, making thousands of dollars in one fell swoop. After that it got out of hand.

The Chinese government at that time had strict capital controls, and the market price of Bitcoin in mainland China had a significant premium compared to Hong Kong. After Hayes discovered this, he began to buy Bitcoin at low prices from Hong Kong exchanges and then sold them on mainland exchanges. He would also withdraw the profits he earned directly into a fake mainland bank account, then take a minibus to cross the border to Shenzhen, take out a full amount of cash, stuff it all into a backpack and carry it back to Hong Kong. Several such experiences aroused the suspicion of the Hong Kong authorities, and on one border crossing, border agents detained him over suspected suspicious Bitcoin transactions. Hayes could only let him go by lying that he was a victim in the deal.

The Rise of BitMEX

After the collapse of Mt Gox, which once held 80% of the market share, China’s three major exchanges: Huobi, OKCoin and BTC China absorbed took most of the market share. There are also overseas exchanges such as Bitfinex, ICBIT and Bitstamp that occupy a share of the Chinese market. The market competition is fierce, and each company has its own way of survival: Bitfinex relies on the p2p lending market and the support of USDT, ICBIT invented the inverse futures contract (that is, the currency-based contract), Bitstamp... only 5 million was stolen. Having said that, Coinbase is more friendly to retail investors, and it was a thriving new exchange that had just been opened for a year.

Faced with such a market environment, Hayes can still see his own opportunities. At Deutsche and Citibank, his specialty was futures contract trading. He believes that the exchanges on the market are not professional enough. He wanted to give those big traders who were used to trading stocks on Wall Street a similar Bitcoin trading experience. So the idea of starting a Bitcoin derivatives exchange came up. He imagined that this platform only accepted Bitcoin, looked a bit like Bloomberg's terminal, and had similar functions. Trading Bitcoin was as professional as trading stocks on Wall Street. So he found Ben Delo and Sam Reed, both of whom are coding masters who are passionate about crypto. Together, the three registered a company in Seychelles in 2014 and officially established BitMEX, whose full name is Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange. A tribute to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), Hayes himself serves as CEO. On the first day the exchange was officially launched, it recorded a trading volume of $50m.

Although it opened with great success, business in the first half year was not ideal. It wasn't until the spring of 2015 that Hayes had the idea of giving up and suggested to his two partners: Hong Kong's second-hand electronic products are very popular, why not start a business of reselling second-hand iPhones? The two partners did not agree. Finally, they decided to use high risk and high returns as their own features to attract users. The reason why futures trading has ultra-high profits is because of the added leverage, that is, you can borrow some additional funds after pledging certain assets. The more you lend, the greater the leverage, but the greater the risk. Hayes and the team decided to increase the leverage of BitMEX to 50 times, that is, the maximum position with 1 BTC as margin can be opened to 50 BTC. They then increased the leverage to 100x. At the time, this far exceeded the leverage level of its competitors, making BitMEX a gathering place for the most "loose" gamblers on the market, and miraculously turning BitMEX from a loss to a profit. Ultra-high leverage has since become the core of the BitMEX brand, and even the name of the parent company was finally changed to 100x Group.

Inventing Perpetual Contracts

Hayes once said in a YouTube video: "Some competing products that make similar products to ours focus on retail investors, why don't we What about fighting for retail investors?" But after all, not all retail investors have a professional background and lack strong financial knowledge. A bunch of leeks who don't understand derivatives at all, after coming to BitMEX to trade, will only find that they don't understand the game, and after the contract expires, they will watch their money disappear inexplicably.

A real and interesting example, according to an interview with NY magazine, at that time many retail investors would always send emails to Hayes complaining that their contracts "suddenly disappeared, gone." In fact, it was Their contract expired. So these retail investors complained that Hayes and BitMEX were big scammers.

Delo was the first to think of improving this product: Can we make a futures contract that will not expire? Doesn't this solve the problem of retail investors? As a result, several founders continued to dig along this inspiration, and when their thoughts surged, they could even write down their ideas on a napkin in a noisy bar.

The result was the emergence of BitMEX’s greatest and most iconic innovative product: Perpetual Swap. It can use ingenious methods to not only avoid the shortcomings of traditional futures that always have expiration dates (a 24x7 market that always has expiration limits is a big trouble), but also satisfy the function of traditional futures contracts: allowing long sellers to People make money when prices rise, and short sellers make money when prices fall.

Perpetual Swap, also called Perp, is a futures contract transaction with no expiration date. It cleverly uses capital fees to anchor the contract price and spot price, so that investors can enjoy both The leverage of contract trading is convenient and avoids the trouble of exchanging positions at maturity. For more about Perp, see: What is a Perpetual Contract?

Since BitMEX launched its first perpetual contract product, XBTUSD perp, in May 2016, more and more exchanges have followed BitMEX’s footsteps and launched perpetual products one after another. Bybit and OKEx launched in December 2018, FTX and Binance in October and December 2019 respectively. Interestingly, when Binance launched the futures contract testnet, BitMEX once tweeted to ridicule: Congratulations to Binance for launching the futures contract testnet. It’s as enjoyable to see you copying our documents as it is to write our own documents. I’m really happy for you. !

BitMEX 推
Source: BitMEX

Although perpetual contracts did not become popular all of a sudden, this excellent product eventually triggered Due to market changes, the quarterly transaction volume of the derivatives market today has exceeded US$660 billion, of which perpetual accounts for more than 90%.

Source: TokenInsight

Swaggering through the market

In 2017, BitMEX went smoothly and they made profits For a lot of money, someone wants to buy them. Hayes and the BitMEX founders turned down an acquisition offer from a venture capital firm. “Just a $600 million valuation is too little,” Hayes thought. When BitMEX was first launched, the founders struggled to raise capital, and now, of course, they have chosen to all retain their equity. The following year led to a bear market, which only made people trade on their platform more frequently. That summer, BitMEX had a single-day trading volume of up to 8 billion U.S. dollars, which brought BitMEX 4 million U.S. dollars in revenue that day, and its ability to attract money was outstanding.

In 2018, Hayes transformed into a promising young man and returned to his hometown to show off his wealth. In May, Hayes went to New York to attend the Crypto event Consensus, and became the center of attention before entering the venue: three Lamborghinis from BitMEX were illegally parked outside the venue in Midtown, Manhattan. Hayes calls it “guerrilla marketing,” and admits it may be “a little bit gauche.” What’s interesting is that these luxury cars were actually rented, and they were fined about $1,000 for illegal parking. okay, this fits Hayes' swaggering, wealthy and willful character.

Hayes Tweet
Source: Arthur Hayes

Getting rich overnight made Hayes the target of public criticism in the Crypto circle, making countless people jealous It seems like it's really easy for him to make money. At that time, there was a joke circulating in the currency circle: Hayes made money when others were making money, and Hayes still made money when others were losing money. There is also an interesting meme, a message that seems to be sent by Hayes to his company's employees: "Stop your losses, I want to buy a Ferrari." It is an insinuation that Hayes manipulates the market and becomes rivals with users. plate.

Zhu Su tweet
Source: Zhu Su

However, Hayes did not stop showing off. At the end of 2018, Hayes tweeted a photo of himself in an ambulance donated by BitMEX to the Seychelles. In the photo, Hayes was wearing sunglasses, which made people uncomfortable. And the highlight of this photo is the sticker underneath, which reads: "My other car is a Lamborghini."

Hayes ambulance
Source: Arthur Hayes

The 2019 Tangle in Taipei debate is another highlight that must be mentioned when mentioning Hayes. From a few classic quotes from this debate, you can get a sense of what it is like to be crazy to a certain extent. Hayes and Nouriel Roubini, a well-known economist and anti-cryptocurrency author, engaged in a heated debate on Bitcoin and BitMEX on the show.

The two are diametrically opposed to each other in terms of clothing: Roubini wears a suit, representing the traditional conservative, while Hayes wears tight jeans with large holes at the knees, representing the rebellious avant-garde. Less than 10 minutes into the game, the arrogant Hayes made a startling statement. When asked why the company was registered in the Seychelles, Hayes replied: "I can't learn to bow down." The original text is: "didn't want to bow down and take an ass-fucking from the U.S. government just because it's regulated." When later asked what the difference was between regulatory agencies in the United States and Seychelles, Hayes even said wildly: "They (the United States) are just more expensive to bribe." What about Seychelles? How much does it cost? "It's just a coconut."

tangle in taipei poster
Tangle in Taipei

Causing fire

We Chinese have an old saying that "make a fortune with silence". Excessive swagger and always testing the edge of danger made Hayes countless enemies. After the 2019 Tangle Taipei debate, he gradually faced pushback from his enemies, including even the U.S. government.

On July 19, 2019, just one week after the show, the CFTC and the Commodity Futures Trading Association began investigating BitMEX, suspecting that BitMEX was suspected of providing trading services to US users. According to U.S. law, BitMEX, which is only registered in the Seychelles, cannot provide services to U.S. users. Naturally, the U.S. government cannot tolerate such "clowns" who threaten its own authority and flout the law. This is the same reason that Ant Financial was unable to go public after Jack Ma made wild remarks at the summit.

bitmex under investigation
Bloomberg reporter’s tweet

Less than a day after this incident came out, BitMEX’s net outflow of Bitcoin reached 73 million U.S. dollars, throughout July, BitMEX's net Bitcoin outflow exceeded $500 million, a record high (it had never exceeded $100 million in a single month before).

bitmex outflow
Source: ceterispar1bus

What followed were various thorny problems: On November 1, BitMEX accidentally leaked a large number of users’ personal data. The email address gradually caused the situation to develop in an uncontrollable direction. Immediately afterwards, hackers hacked into the BitMEX Twitter account and jokingly posted two tweets: "Take your BTC and run. Last day for withdrawals," and "Hacked." But they were quickly deleted. What's more, he directly created a new Twitter account and began to leak user IDs and emails continuously. However, only BitMEX can claim in a high-sounding way: Funds are safe.

bitmex funds are safu
Source: BitMEX

A mountain of lawsuits

After entering 2020 , BitMEX has not yet recovered from the 312 incident, and is in trouble again. On May 16, BitMEX received an indictment. BMA LLC (Bitcoin Manipulation Abatement) from California accused BitMEX and Hayes and other executives of a series of crimes including money laundering, fraud, and operating a cryptocurrency exchange without a license. Behavior. The plaintiff also emphasized that 15% of BitMEX’s trading volume in 2019, approximately $138 billion, came from U.S. users, claiming that this was the “highest record of illegal transactions in the United States.” As the saying goes, when you are doing a little bit of walking, your teeth are filled with water. When BitMEX was entangled in this lawsuit, it successively experienced a series of troubles such as shutting down the services of the Japanese station and causing the server to go offline and shut down.

But in fact, the plaintiff has nothing to do with BitMEX. After all, BitMEX was specially registered in Seychelles to avoid US regulation. The BMA can only indirectly prove that BitMEX has operations in the United States from customer email information. This meager evidence was later used by BitMEX people to ridicule: I am registered in the Seychelles, come and fuck me! They're still crazy.

come at me
Source: US Gov

But unfortunately, the government got serious next. Since the financial crisis in 2008, the emergence of Bitcoin has obviously caused concerns among governments. Whenever a bull market for Bitcoin comes, central banks of various countries will be afraid that Bitcoin will touch their cheese. This is especially true in the year of the epidemic in 2020. From Mirco Strategy’s crazy increase in BTC, to the Nigerian government’s fear of losing control after seeing people betting $140 million in Bitcoin, and to Musk’s selling of Tesla shares in exchange for Bitcoin, this series of signals , making the Fed feel that it will be really panicked if it doesn't do something. It happened that Hayes was dancing the most at this time, so they targeted BitMEX and Hayes. This guy was the perfect person to stand out: he was young, ostentatious, got rich overnight, took ill-gotten gains, and was a black man. Isn't this hitting the muzzle of the gun?

In October 2020, at the beginning of the new bull market, Hayes and the other two BitMEX founders received a joint accusation from the U.S. Department of Justice and the CFTC. The content was the same as the previous accusation: BitMEX was not registered in the United States but owned A large number of U.S. customers and suspected illegal money laundering activities violated the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, also known as the Currency and Foreign Exchange Transaction Reporting Act. BitMEX has since become the first cryptocurrency exchange to be sued for violating the Bank Secrecy Act. In fact, the reason why Hayes was arrested was because he did not turn over his customer information to the CFTC when he was dealing with the CFTC earlier. The CFTC also had certain intentions of retaliation. According to reports, more than 45,000 BTC were withdrawn and flowed to other exchanges within 48 hours of the CFTC prosecution.

As soon as this happened, Hayes reacted quickly. He resigned as CEO directly and co-created a new entity 100x Group with Reed and Delo to manage BitMEX more securely. New CEO Alexander Hoptner also expressed readiness for prosecution. According to reports, on the day of Hayes’ resignation, BitMEX directly lost approximately US$400 million in user deposits, and it seemed that the situation was over.

Honolulu surrenders

On April 6, 2021, a private jet from Singapore slowly landed in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hayes was wearing a casual T-shirt Shi was arrested at the airport. The FBI went straight onto the plane and verified his fingerprints and saliva. Agents wearing bulletproof vests then handcuffed Hayes and escorted him to the courthouse. This is Hayes' second visit to the United States since 2018, but this time it is very different from the time he drove a Lamborghini in New York.

Although he surrendered, Hayes did not plead guilty in court. This was also the best decision after taking the lawyer's advice: Hayes was still resisting. As early as March, another founder, Ben Delo, surrendered to the Supreme Court in New York and also did not plead guilty. After Hayes' team paid a bail of US$10 million, what followed was more than ten days of detention and isolation. Finally, after a series of issues were discussed, Hayes boarded a flight back to Singapore. During the subsequent epidemic, , Hayes has been staying in Singapore. A few months later, in August, BitMEX finally reached a settlement with the CFTC and agreed to pay a fine of US$100 million. It seemed that there was no danger.

Since then, the first two founders have surrendered to the authorities, but Reed, who is from Wisconsin, has been more miserable: Reed was actually arrested in October, when he was living in South Boston. In the suburbs of the city, I have a wife and a three-month-old child at home. According to media reports, at 6 a.m., more than a dozen FBI agents and police armed with guns kicked down the door and handcuffed him to a chair. Reed was then taken to a mysterious federal authorities building, where he was detained in a dark, dank basement for ten hours and even shackled.

I don’t know whether the prison life was too terrifying or for some other reason, Hayes finally surrendered. In February 2022, Hayes and two other founders jointly pleaded guilty to the court, admitting that they had "contempted" the Bank Secrecy Act and failed to implement anti-money laundering regulations, and were willing to pay another US$10 million each. fine. U.S. prosecutors for the Southern District of New York told the court that BitMEX was a "vehicle for money laundering and criminal activity," conducting more than $200 million in suspicious criminal transactions and that it failed to report any to the government as required. Prosecutors allege that on one occasion, Hayes unfrozen the account of an alleged hacker, allowing them to withdraw an asset that was suspected of being stolen Bitcoin. Prosecutors wrote that because the company did not ask traders to provide identifying details of their accounts, "the full extent of BitMEX's criminal conduct will never be known."

DoJ attorney Damian Williams said: " Arthur Hayes and Benjamin Delo have created a platform that blatantly defies the law; and they voluntarily and voluntarily ignore the most basic anti-money laundering regulations."

Now that all the evidence has been presented, The prosecutor naturally asked the court to impose a harsher punishment. Hayes himself tried to express some remorse: "Although BitMEX's achievements do make me proud, I do regret deeply for participating in these criminal activities." There is also a friend who interceded on his behalf and is currently the head of Galaxy Investment Partnership, Mike Novogratz's testimony: "Don't forget that Arthur is a young, successful black man. Our country and industry need such black men."

In May 2022, the judge under pressure from many parties including racial public opinion , still chose a lighter punishment, allowing Hayes to avoid prison, but he still had to face 6 months of home detention.

Let him go through the bad things in the past

According to media reports, Hayes was imprisoned in a building in South Beach, Miami. A luxurious white three-bedroom suite (really his own property) with a huge balcony overlooking Biscayne Bay. Here, Hayes looked at the Miami skyline and blew the sea breeze. Every day he either did yoga or went out to play ball and swim (according to his own description, he was allowed to go out for a few hours of exercise every day). He even went out to buy coffee. Fans will recognize it. Hayes loves writing. He rented a WeWork office nearby to meet his needs for working and writing essays. He can even occasionally go out to eat and meet members of the local crypto native community.

However, Hayes's resistance to the United States can be seen in many details of his life. On the surface, being under house arrest here is like a vacation, but he himself is particularly nervous. "In the United States, I am very worried about my personal safety because people can hold guns." He was even so sensitive that he wanted to vent his anger on bugs. He felt that the swimming pool on the first floor was completely useless because of too many mosquitoes, so he complained: "In Singapore, they do insecticide." In the report, he also complained about many shortcomings of the United States: the time difference with other countries Too big, American food is too disgusting, etc. There is resistance to the United States everywhere, which has reached the level of cultural disgust. "I don't plan to go back to the United States again. I probably will never come back."

Fast forward to early 2023, Hayes has been playing in Hokkaido for a long time. According to his self-report, we can feel that he is indeed lying down a lot: "I have no vision now, so I'd better protect my customers' money first and don't lose their Bitcoins."

Write it at the end

Once upon a time, there was a young man who was smart, received higher education, and worked in traditional finance for several years. A trader felt unhappy and went out to work on the exchange alone. He became rich overnight, became a Twitter celebrity, attracted everyone's attention, and then led the crypto banner and was successfully crowned. Later, he went against the US government and became a rebellious entrepreneur, attracting outsiders to watch. His arrogance was finally met with retribution, and the U.S. government launched a counterattack. He also tried to resist, but was ultimately defeated. He also changed Crypto.

This story is very familiar. SBF: This is not me. User: This is you. Hayes: It's obviously me.

Of course, although they have similar experiences, their differences are also obvious: one is later and the other is earlier. One is whiter and the other is darker. One comes from a wealthy family and the other comes from a car mechanic. A fat nerd and a muscular tyrant. Of course, there is also a very important point: one took away customers’ money and the evidence is conclusive, and the other, although facing many accusations, has never been charged with misappropriating user deposits.

Okay listeners, that’s it for today’s story. You can figure out what you learned. See you next time.