Tether: The Coin That Could Wreck Crypto

Even by crypto’s often-surreal requirements, Tether has a peculiar historical past. The corporate was based in 2014 by Brock Pierce, a cryptocurrency evangelist who, as a baby actor, starred within the “Mighty Geese” films. He and his accomplice, Reeve Collins, later handed management of the agency to a former plastic surgeon named Giancarlo Devasini, who has saved a few of Tether’s belongings in a financial institution within the Bahamas run by one of many creators of the “Inspector Gadget” cartoon.

Tether has grown quickly. Final yr, it issued roughly 50 billion stablecoins, greater than tripling the worldwide provide. “If we’ve to redeem until the final cent, we will do it,” Mr. Ardoino mentioned within the interview.

The corporate is operated by about 50 workers in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Its chief government, JL van der Velde, is a Dutch businessman whose LinkedIn profile suggests he’s primarily based in Hong Kong; the corporate declined to substantiate his location. He and Mr. Devasini, the chief working officer, hardly ever communicate publicly. Tether’s public face is Mr. Ardoino, who describes his colleagues as “regular folks” amazed by the corporate’s development.

“They didn’t suppose initially that it will possibly go so massive,” Mr. Ardoino mentioned. “They weren’t ready to be public individuals. There’s nothing dangerous about it.”

At occasions, Tether has insisted that its stablecoins have been absolutely backed by U.S. {dollars}. However final yr, the New York legal professional basic, Letitia James, referred to as these claims “a lie.”

A number of years earlier, a cryptocurrency trade affiliated with Tether had misplaced $850 million in a enterprise deal gone bitter. To cowl the losses, the trade, Bitfinex, took loans from Tether’s reserves, leaving the stablecoin partly unbacked, in line with Ms. James’s investigation.