Legacy financial news organization, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has once again ripped into the workings and associations of Bitcoin pioneer Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift. Just months ago, the WSJ printed a many thousands of words investigative report, covering months of journalism work, accusing Voorhees and his outfit of all manner of ills. They’re back at it again, and this time it’s personal, involving his alleged involvement in a $50 million crypto sale with Salt.
The Wall Street Journal Goes After Erik Voorhees Again
Headlines screamed once again from the WSJ, attacking Voorhees for the second time this year. “Securities regulators are investigating a company’s $50 million cryptocurrency sale,” the legacy paper published, “an executive with the firm said, and people familiar with the probe said it includes looking at whether a prominent bitcoin entrepreneur broke the law by getting involved with the company’s fundraising.”
Similar to its last piece, magic escape hatch phrasing such as “an executive” and “people familiar” are employed to make the case of what amounts mostly to rumor, innuendo, a nothing burger. As an example, this is how he is introduced to readers, in only the second paragraph, who might be unfamiliar with him and his work: “The entrepreneur, Erik Voorhees, is chief executive of ShapeShift AG, a digital-asset exchange that suspected criminals have used to launder millions of dollars in allegedly ill-gotten gains,” they wrote breathlessly, leading readers to an already unfavorable opinion. “Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and abroad have looked at ShapeShift’s role in processing assets in several criminal cases,” the WSJ continued, “people involved in those investigations told the Journal.”
According to their new reporting, the US Securities and Exchange Commission is “probing” Voorhees’ involvement with crypto lending outfit, Salt Lending Holdings Inc (Salt), which “received a subpoena from the SEC in February seeking records related to a $50 million digital-token sale it held last year, the people familiar with the matter said.”
Painting a Crypto Enthusiast as a Shady Character
Though an “SEC spokesman declined to comment,” the article goes on to try and link a securities assessment of Salt to a 2014 Voorhees settlement with the agency “that banned Mr. Voorhees from such fundraising, according to the people familiar with the probe.” Readers might be noticing a pattern in WSJ phrasing at this point.
Voorhees is a well known foil of government regulation, and the WSJ quotes him as having at one point confirmed how “this whole narrative that the government is out to protect people is total bullshit.” On this, journalists base their story arc around him being something a scofflaw, though Voorhees and ShapeShift recently began to employ know-your-customer procedures ahead of an overt regulatory body order (never mentioned). The authors go on to further muddy waters by bringing up Salt inside baseball and civil suits, though tucked at the end they’re forced to admit “Mr. Voorhees wasn’t named as a defendant in the former employee’s lawsuit.”
The WSJ hangs their entire story on Voorhees not being allowed to engage in such financing similar to the kind Salt did summer of last year. They attempt to further connect Voorhees to forbidden financing options though he wasn’t mentioned in any of SEC filings — which the WSJ seems to find suspect.
The article goes out of its way to be uncharitable, to find every morsel even tangentially related to Voorhees and make it stick, if only for readers and future investors and business partners who might wish to associate with him. It’s a classic use of financial gotcha journalism, and it might have something to do with his defiant response to their first attack back a few months ago.
Fall of this year, the WSJ published, “How Dirty Money Disappears Into the Black Hole of Cryptocurrency: Journal investigation documents suspicious trades through venture capital-backed ShapeShift.” It’s tone, right from the headline, is similar to that of the present piece under consideration. No charity. No benefit of any doubt. It’s, rather, just a marshaling of a laundry list of strange statistics and basic crypto illiteracy.
Voorhees called them out on it. His response, “Shining Light on WSJ’s Attack on ShapeShift and Crypto,” is strident, brutal, and ultimately crushing of that original article and its authors. No one was spared. It’s one of the most defiant retorts to an investigative journalism study ever posted to Medium. Scathing is probably the best adjective.
Legacy media outlets do not appreciate being shown up, and Voorhees has on various interviews referred to that first Fall WSJ investigation as having been written by “retards.” These institutions have long memories and tend to be incredibly petty, and they do not need more incentive to shine further dark light on cryptocurrency and its advocates.
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