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Binance CEO CZ Sues Sequoia Capital for Damages

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is suing VC giant Sequoia Capital for damages, claiming the latter hurt his reputation and stopped him from raising funds for Binance at the end of 2017 “which was a critical time in the market and when there was huge interest in Binance from other VCs and investor”.

The case stems from a previous legal spat between the leading crypto exchange and the VC giant. In December 2017, Sequoia Capital China obtained an injunction order against Changpeng Zhao (better known as CZ), alleging he violated an exclusivity agreement by seeking funding from IDG Capital during Binance’s Series A round.

CZ was forced to stop raising funds for three months until March 1, 2018, before all charges against him were dismissed in December and it was revealed that IDG was in talks with Binance for a Series B round funding back then. CZ claims that the now-defunct injunction order cost him the chance to gain new investments at a favorable valuation.

The tension between the two companies further escalated later. In May 2018, the exchange required all projects applying to list on Binance to disclose if they have any direct or indirect relationships with Sequoia. Though its co-founder He Yi said the requirement for projects’ disclosing information is a piece of neutral news, many believe the two have been tit-for-tat since then.

In CZ’s recent tweets, he said the actions of Sequoia in obtaining the injunction was an abuse of process and the arbitration tribunal finally determined that all of Sequoia’s claims were complete without merit.

“The injunction and Sequoia’s serious allegations against me were made public, but I was not able to publicly defend myself because the arbitration was confidential.” He added.

“The injunction order has caused loss to me for which I am entitled to reasonable compensation by Sequoia,” CZ writes in the filing. “In particular, I have suffered i) a loss of chance to raise capital through successive rounds of financing at increasing high valuations; and ii) damage to my reputation.”

The first hearing between Zhao and SCC Venture VI, a special-purpose vehicle of Sequoia Capital China, will take place in Hong Kong on June 25. The inquiry will assess if CZ “has sustained any and what damages,” although he has not yet suggested an amount for compensation.

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