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Former key figures from cryptocurrency exchanges FTX and Alameda Research, Can Sun and Armani Ferrante, are charting new territory with the launch of a Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange named Backpack Exchange. This move comes on the heels of their former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, being found guilty on seven charges of fraud.
Formation of Trek Labs
Trek Labs, the company behind Backpack Exchange, has recently obtained a license from the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) in Dubai, the regulatory body overseeing digital assets in the emirate. Can Sun, the founder of Trek Labs, and Armani Ferrante, serving as the CEO of its holding company in the British Virgin Islands, are spearheading this ambitious initiative.
Financial Backing and Setbacks
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trek Labs successfully closed a $20 million funding round in September 2022. Notably, FTX’s venture arm contributed half of this investment. However, Ferrante disclosed that he experienced significant losses when FTX collapsed, as the majority of the raised funds were held on the now-defunct exchange.
Legal Background and Key Testimony
Can Sun, formerly the general counsel for FTX, played a pivotal role as a key witness in the recent trial of Sam Bankman-Fried. During the trial, Sun testified that he “never approved” the lending of customer funds from FTX to Alameda Research. Sun held the position of general counsel from August 2021 until FTX’s collapse in November 2022.
Incorporating Backpack into the Exchange
Backpack Exchange is poised to set itself apart from FTX by allowing users to self-custody their funds. This means that users will have exclusive access to their crypto wallets, enhancing security and control over their digital assets.
Stake Sale and Valuation
As part of its strategic growth plan, Backpack Exchange is in the process of selling a 10% stake, a move that would value the exchange at over $100 million. This funding will contribute to the further development and expansion of the platform.
Upcoming Launch and Beta Testing
Despite the challenges, Backpack Exchange is gearing up for its official launch later this month, with a beta version expected to be made available. The exchange aims to provide a user-friendly and secure environment for cryptocurrency trading and investment.
Executive Team Expansion
In a notable move, Can Sun has recruited his former legal deputy, Claire Zhang, to join Trek’s executive team. Zhang, who is also Armani Ferrante’s wife, has indicated her intention to depart the company once the ongoing investment round is finalized.
This initiative by Can Sun and Armani Ferrante represents a bold step forward in the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape of cryptocurrency exchanges. As Backpack Exchange prepares to enter the market, it remains to be seen how this venture will impact the crypto community and whether it will carve out its own niche in the industry.
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