Whales are mega-rich traders who inhabit the depths of the crypto seas. Theirs is a realm of dark pools, hidden order books, OTC deals, and rich list wallet addresses. Shunning publicity in favor of pseudonymity, most whales keep their trading and personal lives separated, with only the blockchain revealing the monster sums they shuffle between exchanges. A handful of whales have bucked this trend, however, laying their trading record on the line for all to judge.
These Crypto Bellwethers Are Willing to Share Their Trades
When quantitative trading firm Alameda Research decided to publicize its trading performance via Bitmex’s leaderboard in early 2019, it was seen as a bold move and clever marketing ploy – a novel way of touting their nascent over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk. A year on, though, and such leaderboards give us a voyeuristic insight into the activities of some of crypto’s biggest whales. But who are they and what can we actually glean from their growing mountains of money?
Bitmex is not the only exchange that maintains a trading leaderboard; Bitfinex does too. You can sift through a list containing a couple of hundred traders, many of whom are making modest gains or losses. Few are willing to disclose whether they’re long or short at any given point in time, but the leaderboard on Bitmexresources.com can extrapolate this information, explaining:
If the overall profit for the user has increased since last update and Bitcoin price also increased during that period, it is safe to assume that the user on Bitmex’s leaderboard has a long position. It is vice versa for short position assumption – if the overall profit for the user has increased since last update and Bitcoin price has decreased during that period, we can assume that the user on Bitmex’s leaderboard has an open short position.
At the top end of the scale, however, are big players, some of whom have elected to forego anonymity and interact with crypto Twitter.
The Cult of JOE007
Sitting atop Bitfinex’s leaderboard at present is one such whale, @JOE007, who has racked up over a million dollars in realized profit since the turn of the year. Joe, who identifies as a “proto-bitcoin whale” according to his Loki-like Twitter profile, has also accrued close to 10,000 acolytes on Twitter, with crypto enthusiasts doubtless keen to follow the master and, with any luck, learn a thing or two.
Although most accounts on the leaderboard are pseudonymous, @JOE007 is one of six “unmasked” traders sitting inside the Top 50. It’s fair to say he’s by far the most successful, though – something he has fun with on Twitter. In a tweet from January 6, he remarked, “OK, now that I’m back to number one Leaderboard position in every category on every timeframe, can I finally get some time off?”
Those who want to mine the White Whale’s tweets for more than mere memes will extract deeper insights: Joe loves bitcoin, detests “shitcoin scammers” and self-appointed influencers, thinks crypto needs more whales and exhibits both pity and contempt for noobs entering the crypto space in pursuit of a “get-rich-quick dream.” He also scoffs at the notion that his followers could replicate his success by reading his posts intently; his Christmas cheer was evident in a droll post on December 23: “Sure, once I decide to close my longs I’ll definitely announce it on Twitter first. For every cryptotrader and his mom to try to front-run me. Of course.”
Not every crypto trader is out to “front-run” Joe and other unmasked whales, however. After sustaining an eight-figure loss in December, Joe was back in the profit – something that keen observers couldn’t help but applaud. Another compelled Joe to “pump it, push the price up and punish these greedy bears. I believe in you.” Cult status isn’t too far away for Joe.
Seems like the finex whale is out of his 16 million dollar loss and back in profit on his long pic.twitter.com/gEVJuMXukE
— [ Romano ] (@RNR_0) January 5, 2020
Whales Making Waves
For crypto whales, throwing around life-changing amounts of money like it’s pocket change is the norm. It’s not that they don’t ever sustain big losses; it’s that they don’t sweat the odd failure and soldier on with nary a complaint.
Those other non-anonymous Top 50 Bitfinex traders, incidentally, are @BtcKreacher, @FeXBT, @damian_trader, @TraderSadBoi and @HyperTradingBot. While their low follower counts indicate that traders aren’t exactly hanging on their every word just yet, expect their audience to grow if they remain staples of the leaderboard. As noted by Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino, API trader @john_j_brown gained 540 followers in a single day after climbing up the table.
Whether you track Bitfinex, Bitmex or another exchange leaderboard, it’s important to remember that social media is curation-based: whales will promote what they want, when they want, to their own ends. By all means follow these crypto bellwethers but don’t linger too long in their slipstream. While their pockets are deep enough to deal with major losses, that’s not the case for us minnows.
Do you think crypto whales move the markets, or are they just big fish in an even bigger sea? Let us know in the comments section below.
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