Categories: Op-ed

How Justin Sun Manufactures Hype for the TRON (TRX) Train

A glance at the Twitter followers of Justin Sun would have you believe the TRON (TRX) founder and CEO is the most famous personality in the cryptosphere. Likewise, a quick look at the list of the most utilized decentralized applications (dApps) paints TRON as one of the most active blockchains for dApps in existence.

However, a deeper look at the numbers beneath the numbers suggests the TRON restaurant is nowhere near as busy as Maitre’d Justin Sun would like us to think.

TRON in Context: How TRX Searches Compare to Ethereum

TRON has often set itself up as a potential Ethereum Killer, so comparing its Google search volume against the No.2 cryptocurrency is an apt point of comparison.

According to data provided to CCN by SEMrush, the highest influx of searches for TRON (TRX) came in January 2018. That’s the month TRX got swept up in the altcoin mega-pump and soared to an all-time high; while Google searches briefly peaked at 3.7 million.

Most eyes fell on TRON in January 2018, when the price surged to an all-time high. Like the price, a sharp decline soon followed | Source: SEMrush
  • TRON (TRX) popularity rose sharply in Jan 2018 to 3,761,000 searches and then declined dramatically in Feb 2019 to 656,000 (-82.56%);
  • In 2019 people are showing more or less stable interest in TRON (TRX) 173,157 average monthly searches (Jan – Jul 2019)

After an 82.5% decline in volume, TRON searches levelled out at around 170,000 in 2019. That’s less than one-third of Ethereum’s average of 600,000 Google searches for the same period. Even when TRON searches peaked in 2018, its popularity never managed to overtake Ethereum. Meanwhile Bitcoin’s popularity has continued to dwarf both altcoins.

Justin Sun vs Vitalik Buterin

Despite the discrepancy between TRON and Ethereum searches, Justin Sun still has 1.6 million followers, while Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin only has 800,000.

Further data from SEMrush shows comparative search volume for ‘Justin Sun’ vs ‘Vitalik Buterin’.

The initial spike in Janaury 2018 marks the arrival of the newly founded TRON on the scene. Ethereum had already been in development for 5 years at that point | Source: SEMrush
  • If we take the time period from November 2017 till now, the amount of searches for Vitalik Buterin is a little bit bigger, however as for 2019 year, Justin Sun is 1.26 times more popular than Vitalik according to average monthly searches stats.

The uptick in 2019 can be explained by Justin Sun’s numerous high-profile public controversies. Promises of a Tesla giveaway and a meeting with Warren Buffet may have boosted Sun’s notoriety somewhat – especially given that neither materialized in the end.

The Silent Twitter Followers

With the context out of the way, the following data scooped up by SEMrush introduces yet more suspicious numbers. Despite more than twice as many tweets by Vitalik Buterin, Justin Sun’s engagement rate on Twitter somehow manages to dwarf that of Ethereum’s founder many times over.

Despite twice the tweet rate and three times the search volume, Vitalik Buterin’s engagement rate is a fraction of Justin Sun’s | Source: SEMrush
  • We analyzed the engagement rates – amount of likes and retweets per post per 10000 followers on Twitter accounts of Justin and Vitalik. According to the results, Justin’s Twitter followers’ engagement is much higher: Justin has 5.74 likes per post per 10000 followers vs Vitalik’s 1.60, and for retweetsJustin has 2.39 retweets per post per 10000 followers vs Vitalik’s 0.32.

Those who follow the two founders will know that Sun’s increased engagement could be partly explained by his tweeting style, which tends to be more ‘marketable’ than the low-key Buterin.

However, a first-hand check of Justin Sun’s feed reveals a tweet with 1.2k likes has almost zero positive comments. One must scroll through 81 scathing comments from Sun’s followers before landing on the single supportive one. Likes and followers can be bought easily, comments are harder to purchase.

This is the most extreme example found so far, however, the same pattern can be seen in all of the TRON frontman’s tweets. What’s more, a look at Sun’s follower growth reveals a very suspicious accumulation of 5,000 followers per day – every single day.

TRON Developer Reveals Fake dApp Numbers

A TRON developer recently claimed that dApps on the network were having their numbers inflated by Justin Sun himself. Rovak – a developer of TRON dApps – claimed Sun boosted the numbers of his TRONdice app, as well as others hosted on TRX.Market.

Screenshots of a developer of TRON dApps claiming Justin Sun was responsible for inflating his own dApp numbers, and those hosted on TRX.Markets | Source: @cryptonatorFR (Twitter)

As one commenter noted, people are more inclined to enter a restaurant when they see that it’s already busy (illustrations as found).

If Rovak is to believed, then Justin Sun appears to be doing everything to convince us that his restaurant is busy. But with so much damage done already, wouldn’t a complete rebrand be more appropriate? Food for thought.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN Markets.

Last modified (UTC): September 8, 2019 10:53 AM

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Greg Thomson @gregthomson88

Greg Thomson is a freelance journalist covering the cryptocurrency and blockchain beat. He contributed to numerous crypto news outlets before joining CCN and Hacked in 2018. Based in Glasgow, Scotland. Reach him directly gregthomson888@gmail.com, or Tweet at @gregthomson88.

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