- The Three Arrows Capital co-founder became one of Crypto Twitter’s most prolific personalities over the course of the 2021 bull run.
- Zhu frequently took to Twitter to share cryptic messages airing his takes on the crypto market.
- Zhu has been silent on Twitter since Three Arrows Capital went bankrupt in July.
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Chris Williams explains why crypto’s water cooler is a less entertaining place without the Three Arrows Capital co-founder.
Su Zhu on Crypto Twitter
For almost as long as crypto has been a thing, Twitter has served as the community’s water cooler. “Crypto Twitter,” as it’s affectionately known, is the place that made stars of personalities like Cobie and Andreas Antonopoulos, attracting countless new believers with every mania-driven retail bubble. If you want to stay up to speed in this space, you need to be on Crypto Twitter—the likes of Changpeng “CZ” Zhao and Vitalik Buterin know this (both are active tweeters with huge followings).
Crypto Twitter has historically gotten a new lease of life with every bull run, but the 2021 market cycle was arguably its most absurd phase yet. There were memes, laser eyes, astrology readings, and CryptoDickbutts. Among the tens of thousands of whales, traders, anons, industry folk, and regular people who simply bought into the “WAGMI” mantra, Three Arrows Capital’s Su Zhu was arguably CT’s greatest user.
Until the multi-billion dollar hedge fund he oversaw alongside classmate Kyle Davies collapsed in a market downturn in June 2022, Zhu was infamous for his snappy takes, sharing rounded perspectives on the market with a side serving of optimism and Tao Te Ching-style wisdom. Zhu’s inimitable writing style would often evoke laughter and confusion among his followers, to the point where some accused he and Davies of psyops and pump-and-dump antics at the expense of their fans.
Zhu’s mystique attracted a cult-like following over the course of the 2021 bull run, but in the end, he underperformed every profitable trader in the market after 3AC suffered a blowup in the fallout from Terra’s implosion. Zhu went silent along with Davies after it emerged that 3AC had taken out billions of dollars in uncollateralized loans from some of crypto’s biggest whales, but if we were to discuss those events in full, this piece would end up longer than the court documents recording Teneo’s liquidation order against the firm.
Crypto is approaching one year since the peak of the bull run that made Zhu famous, and while CT is surviving under Elon Musk’s reign and suppressed market prices, most would agree that it’s a worse place without Zhu around. “I miss his tweets” has been repeated on multiple occasions throughout this year, and Zhu is such a CT icon that people often paraphrase him in part-tribute-part-mockery.
As we reflect on the rise and fall of the crypto market over the past couple of years, we dug out 10 of Zhu’s masterpieces charting his own rise and fall from 2021 through 2022. Read more below.
Asking the Price (03/05/2021)
Many ppl think they want to be successful but hate asking what the price is
Figure out the market price of what you want and boldly pay it
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) March 5, 2021
In March 2021, days after making an UpOnly podcast debut in which he publicly peddled the “Supercycle” narrative for the first time, Zhu took to Twitter to discuss the concept of “price.”
“Figure out the market price of what you want and boldly pay it,” he wrote, explaining that assets like fitness and wealth come with a price (Zhu would later tweet before and after photos of himself topless at the gym, as if following up on his ideas on price).
The tweet landed in the early stages of the bull run as the King was taking a lead. Musk’s Tesla had just acquired its first sats, Michael Saylor was still at the helm of MicroStrategy, and nothing could shake the market’s confidence. Reflecting on Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable rise, Zhu wrote that the price was at least $5 million, or “$5m+.”
Bitcoin was approaching $50,000 on the day of Zhu’s tweet, which is about 1% of his $5 million call. It never came close to his target after peaking at $69,000 in November 2021, and at today’s prices, it would need to rally more than 24,000% to hit the lofty milestone.
While there’s a reasonable case to be made that Zhu should have toned down his bullish stance to his followers here, it’s worth remembering that he and Davies genuinely bought into their Supercycle thesis. It was only when Bitcoin dropped below $21,000 in June 2022 for the first time in 18 months that rumors of the firm’s collapse first surfaced, and it later became clear that the pair had bet the farm—and a bunch of other people’s farms—on the market holding and lost. “Supercycle price thesis was regrettably wrong,” Zhu conceded on May 27.
Crypto as the 4th Epoch of Augmented Memory (03/07/2021)
Most are aware that crypto is the 4th computing paradigm, but it is also the 4th Epoch of Augmented Memory
I: folkloric verbal poetry
II: tomes of written words
III: photography, video
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) March 7, 2021
Zhu shared his philosophical side with CT on many occasions in 2021, and his contextualization of crypto’s place in world history helped him attract a herd of true believers.
Perhaps his most bizarre take came when he described crypto as “the 4th Epoch of Augmented Memory,” making the case that Internet money serves as a powerful transfer of information akin to verbal poetry, tomes of written words (i.e. books), and photo and video.
If we were being cynical, we would say that this tweet reads as pretentious drivel, especially coming from someone who spent the bull run borrowing off others, publicly endorsing dubious Layer 1 projects he’d backed, and getting bad entries on majors long after the market tanked. However, if we were giving Zhu the benefit of the doubt, we’d just say this one is a little difficult to decipher.
A Tough Century (03/21/2021)
If you don’t understand crypto and refuse to learn, it’s gonna be a tough century for you.
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) March 21, 2021
Say what you like about Zhu and 3AC’s business activities, the gym pics, and occasional inflated ego, but there’s a good reason Zhu became so popular.
When he tweeted out messages like “if you don’t understand crypto and refuse to learn, it’s gonna be a tough century for you,” it was as if he was rallying an army into battle to bring Bitcoin to the mainstream. While he got carried away with the shilling on far too many occasions, messages like this instilled confidence in the market and genuinely made the “up only” meme feel like a reality.
Alongside his friend, Terra co-founder Do Kwon, Zhu was a master at making his followers feel like he was with them against the world to help crypto cross the chasm (in reality, of course, Zhu was a multi-millionaire trader living in a different world to CT’s everyday men). Kwon suffered an even bigger fall from grace than Zhu after Terra failed, so perhaps CT would be advised to take any rally cries like this with a heavy grain of salt next time the market picks up.
Preferring Wealth (04/23/2021)
Have literally zero interest in overseas property as a store of value. Insane frictional costs, illiquid and cumbersome to manage, and add some geopolitical/taxation risk on top as well when buying as a nondomicile.
If you prefer wealth you prefer crypto.
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) April 23, 2021
At some point over the past few years, Zhu and other crypto folks began evangelizing the idea of “preferring wealth,” which was essentially a self-congratulatory meme to refer to the high beta assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum enjoyed in an era of unprecedented fiscal experimentation and money printing. The general gist was that crypto was the place to store wealth, and when everyone was talking about corporate Bitcoin adoption, Ethereum NFTs were taking off, and trash was soaring left, right, and center, it seemed to make reasonable sense. Now that interest rates are high again, to prefer dollars is to prefer wealth, but it’s easy to think the bull run will last forever when you’re experiencing it.
“If you prefer wealth you prefer crypto,” Zhu wrote in a note about his aversions to investing in property overseas in 2021, once again reassuring his followers that they were in the right place for money’s biggest shift in history. Zhu then added a caveat, presumably aimed at the fraction of readers who had happened to amass a portfolio of eight figures or more: “W that said def get a reasonably sized house and reasonably sized boat in your country of residence.” The advice prompted a flurry of questions from CT related to appropriate boat sizes and other potential stores of value, though Zhu neglected to elaborate.
Notably, Zhu also became an advocate for linear wealth over logarithmic wealth—pushing the idea that most people sell their coins too early to secure modest gains. Given the nature of 3AC’s downfall, which saw the firm recklessly betting billions of dollars in overleveraged trades, one could argue that Zhu’s pursuit of linear wealth was his ultimate downfall.
Reasonably Scarce JPEGs (08/10/2021)
Wow soon $15m can’t even get you a reasonably scarce jpeg much less a reasonably sized house
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) August 9, 2021
3AC was credited with kickstarting a heady period in the market that became known as “NFT summer” when it swept the floor on the CryptoPunks NFT collection, but Zhu and Davies didn’t stop at Ethereum’s most prestigious avatars.
The firm went on to acquire tens of millions of dollars worth of JPEGs, taking a particularly keen interest in the Art Blocks generative art scene. Their most outrageous purchase was Ringer #879, which they bought for 1,800 ETH worth over $5.6 million. “We like the goose,” Zhu said in reference to the artwork’s goose-like depiction.
The sale for the Goose Ringer rocked CT and the broader NFT space at the time, but Zhu left a hint it was coming to his most eagle-eyed followers. “Wow soon $15m can’t even get you a reasonably scarce jpeg much less a reasonably sized house,” he wrote on August 10, referencing a now-deleted 2020 tweet in which he had suggested that $10 million was a relatively paltry sum in the reasonably sized house market.
Though Zhu can be applauded for calling the height of NFT mania, 3AC got things wrong if they were hoping to make money on their JPEG buys. They bought into the NFT market’s priciest grails and signaled their intentions to raise $100 million for a dedicated fund called Starry Night Capital at the height of the mania, buying the top before prices tanked in Ethereum and dollar terms. Teneo has since won approval to liquidate Starry Night’s holdings.
Abandoning Ethereum (11/21/2021)
Yes I have abandoned Ethereum despite supporting it in the past.
Yes Ethereum has abandoned its users despite supporting them in the past.
The idea of sitting around jerking off watching the burn and concocting purity tests, while zero newcomers can afford the chain, is gross.
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) November 21, 2021
Zhu was one of CT’s most popular accounts during the 2021 bull run, but as the cycle neared its end, his tweets became less inspiring and more “invest in my bags before the run ends.”
By the autumn of 2021, Zhu had turned his attention to the so-called SOLUNAVAX trade, having lost interest in Ethereum amid soaring gas fees (Zhu spent months endorsing ETH before SOLUNAVAX caught on, targeting a $25,000 ETH on a Bankless podcast just before the market suffered a crash).
After 3AC announced that it had co-led a $230 million Avalanche raise in September 2021, Zhu’s AVAX endorsements were about as subtle as that Instagram post that the SEC pulled Kim Kardashian up on for shilling EthereumMax. He repeatedly got behind Avalanche in his tweets, drawing the ire of many who had noticed him doing similar with Ethereum just weeks prior when it was in vogue due to EIP-1559 hype.
One of those dismayed onlookers was Synthetix founder Kain Warwick, who later posted a tweet about losing respect for some people who had chosen “opportunistic gains” over principles during the course of the bull run (he didn’t clarify if he was speaking about Zhu). A very public spat ensued in which the pair discussed everything from their multi-million dollar property portfolios to Optimistic Rollups, which led Zhu to come out with his legendary tirade against Ethereum. “The idea of sitting around jerking off watching the burn and concocting purity tests, while zero newcomers can afford the chain, is gross,” he wrote, saying that Ethereum had “abandoned its users.” Avalanche was trading at all-time highs on the weekend the drama went down, which may have given Zhu some confidence. However, he soon backed down and apologized after hundreds of members of the Ethereum community called him out on his bewildering message. AVAX and ETH have both suffered staggering drops since, though Avalanche has taken the hardest hit along with the rest of the “alternative Layer 1” space.
Froth, Adoption, Cope, and Hope (01/21/2022)
At the top signs of froth are indistinguishable from signs of adoption
At the bottom signs of cope are indistinguishable from signs of hope
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) January 21, 2022
Since 3AC went all in on crypto in 2014, Zhu has become renowned for his incredible skill at timing market tops and bottoms—something that can yield greater returns in crypto than any other financial market on earth. In late 2018, he memorably warned that “we will pump off the bottom extremely quickly, leaving most sideline investors stuck in fiat,” essentially calling the market’s final capitulation and giving birth to a meme that’s still going strong today.
The 2021 rally tested those trying to time the top and bottom harder than ever by hinting that crypto may have finally made it before sending everything into the red in a May downturn that overshadowed every bull run correction before it. As the mainstream caught on, things looked frothy from the beginning of the run, but those who sold early on missed out on huge gains later on. Similarly, it felt like all hope was lost after the May correction (though Zhu was one of few to suggest otherwise), but crypto topped $3 trillion six months later.
Zhu summed up this climate in a succinct two line tweet in late January, just after the market slid and ahead of another 10 months of sluggish action. “At the top signs of froth are indistinguishable from signs of adoption… At the bottom signs of cope are indistinguishable from signs of hope.” Zhu is, of course, correct here; that’s partly why crypto is still such a volatile beast.
Bears Building Buy Walls (05/25/2022)
Bears will build and pay for the buy walls of the future
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) May 25, 2022
We’re not sure what Zhu was getting at when he suggested that “bears will build and pay for the buy walls of the future,” and judging from CT sentiment, no one else did at the time.
However, the timing of his post, landing days after the May 2022 Terra collapse, suggests that he was hinting at a possible future in which selloffs set the foundations for future rallies.
In CT culture, bears are widely viewed with disdain, and Zhu had become a beacon of bullish hope over the 2021 run. So it fits that he would reflect on bears dumping with an air of positivity, even as 3AC faced what would turn out to be fatal losses in the downturn.
The Next Generation of Algorithmic Stablecoins
Boomers thought Luna1 collapse would take down the crypto industry
Instead, Tron, Waves, and other chains still working hard on next-gen algostable coins
Luna2 reuniting the Terra community as they rebuild the ecosystem
All w/ zero need for govt bailouts
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) June 1, 2022
Once again, this one has us stumped. In the fallout from one of the biggest disasters in crypto history, an entirely predictable event that erased $40 billion of value in a few days and led to bankruptcies, suicides, and increased regulatory attention, Zhu thought it would be a good idea to offer another of his contrarian takes in what reads like a defense of Terra.
Zhu pointed out that while LUNA had collapsed, other projects were working on algorithmic stablecoins, apparently missing the memo that no algorithmic stablecoin (arguably barring FRAX) has ever worked without at least temporarily losing its peg.
“Luna2 reuniting the Terra community as they rebuild the ecosystem,” he added, referencing Kwon’s questionable second attempt at a LUNA coin after Terra’s failure. After Kwon became crypto’s public enemy number one in the fallout, one would have thought Zhu would have reconsidered such an ill-judged tweet before posting, though in fairness 3AC was facing a $600 million loss on the Terra collapse. Perhaps he was coping, which would maybe make his bizarre statement more understandable.
In what could be described as a poor paraphrasing of Satoshi Nakamoto’s hidden message in the codebase of Bitcoin’s Genesis block, Zhu pointed out that there had been “zero need for govt bailouts” across Terra and the other algorithmic stablecoin projects. Yes, there were no government bailouts—we just got more regulatory attention and potentially draconian rules for stablecoins from them instead. Congratulations to Terra and those who supported it!
Communicating With Relevant Parties (06/15/2022)
We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out
— Zhu Su 🔺 (@zhusu) June 15, 2022
Market sentiment felt like it was at rock bottom when Bitcoin failed below $21,000 in mid-June. In response, Celsius took the unprecedented decision to halt customer withdrawals, essentially blocking users from accessing their funds, then rumors of a major fund blowup started to surface.
The talk was that one of the biggest whales in the space had imploded on the downturn, and there were only a few parties that matched the description. It couldn’t be Alameda, people said—they were just too smart. And Jump had got burned on Terra but everyone knew they had more money than they knew what to do with after backing Solana. The other name doing the rounds was 3AC, but few believed it. Surely there was no way that a $10 billion fund like Three Arrows—the Three Arrows run by Su and Kyle—had gone bust?
Later that day, Zhu surfaced and all but confirmed the question everyone had been asking over the previous 24 hours. “We are in the process of communicating with relevant parties and fully committed to working this out,” he wrote in characteristically elusive fashion.
It later emerged that the “relevant parties” Zhu was referring to were the whale-sized lenders like Voyager Digital and Genesis that had entrusted 3AC with their funds in hopes of a tidy return.
Three Arrows Capital filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy on July 1 after it defaulted on over $3.5 billion worth of loans due to the market collapse.
Zhu and Davies’ exact location is unknown, though the pair signaled their intention to relocate to Dubai in a July Bloomberg interview.
Zhu last tweeted on July 12.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other digital assets.