In August 2021, social media influencer and YouTuber Logan Paul announced the launch of his new cryptocurrency project, CryptoZoo. Fans of Paul and other investors spent millions on the project, only to find a dysfunctional game on launch day. Because of an explosive investigation by YouTuber CoffeeZilla, who specializes in uncovering crypto scams, the numerous Logan Paul crypto projects have been met with widespread controversy and criticism from the cryptocurrency community.
Who is Logan Paul?
Logan Paul is a popular social media influencer with over 23 million subscribers on YouTube. Aside from making videos, he’s a podcaster, boxer, and professional WWE-signed wrestler. Paul has been involved in various controversial incidents in the past, including a highly publicized incident in 2017 where he filmed and posted a video of a body in Japan’s “suicide forest” (1).
Since then, he has rebuilt his fanbase to become one of the highest-paid creators on the platform and the poster child for the creator economy. A man of many interests, Logan Paul has ventured into the NFT community, often talking about his own projects.
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What is CryptoZoo?
The newest addition to the list of Logan Paul crypto projects was CryptoZoo. Paul introduced CryptoZoo on his podcast “Impaulsive”. He described the project as a “really fun game that makes you money.” Investors would start by buying the in-game currency called ZOO tokens. With these coins, players buy egg NFTs, which can hatch into animals (4).
The attraction of the game was being able to breed the animals into unique hybrids. The rarer your NFT, the more ZOO coins you could earn, which you could either cash out or reinvest into eggs. Before the game’s release, investors already spent millions of dollars on eggs and the ZOO tokens due to Paul’s marketing (4).
CoffeeZilla’s deep-dive investigation into this Logan Paul crypto scandal can be summarized in four parts.
1. Dysfunctional Game
After launch day, the game simply didn’t work, and the value of the zoo token plummeted within 24 hours. Even more, the promises of “handmade art” NFTs revealed themselves to be stock images. Investors collectively lost millions (6).
Paul attributed the faulty game to his developers, who ran off with the game code. However, upon investigation, the developers explained that they were never paid for their work even though Paul claimed his team invested a million dollars in development (6).
2. Questionable Practices
Leaked text messages among the CryptoZoo team showed that the team was mainly concerned about making the maximum amount of money from the project. Instead of doing a presale, which would subject CryptoZoo to SEC regulations, they would do a stealth token launch, allowing the team and their friends to buy out the tokens at a discounted rate, raising the valuation (8).
With these tokens, Paul’s team imparted rules regarding when they could sell and to not impact the market within a certain percentage. While Logan Paul eventually went back on his rules and encouraged the other members to hold their coins, not everyone did (8).
3. Untrustworthy Team Dynamics
Eddie Ibanez, one of Logan’s CryptoZoo team members, claimed to be an MIT graduate, former CIA/defense department employee, and a data scientist who helped the Philadelphia Eagles win the Superbowl. Adam Rob, another investigative journalist, discovered that all of the statements, and more, were completely false. Although Rob informed Paul’s manager, Jeff Levin, of Eddie’s past, Eddie remained a part of their team and was put in charge of overseeing the game developers and securing investors (7).
Another member of the team was Jake the Crypto King. He worked with Paul in the past and was the main guy behind the Logan Paul crypto stealth presale idea. Both Eddie and Jake sold their coins on launch day before the price drop, making millions of dollars each (8).
4. Lack of transparency and accountability
Instead of coming clean about their struggles, Paul’s team went radio silent for a year with only vague promises to fix the game. This led to some investors losing even more money, as they held their coins, convinced that Paul would follow up with fixing the game. Furthermore, after CoffeeZilla’s explosive exposé came out, Paul defended CryptoZoo, denied any wrongdoing, and threatened to sue CoffeeZilla for his words (2).
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While he has apologized to CoffeeZilla, come forth with a 1.3 million dollar refund plan to investors, and promised to deliver a functional CryptoZoo in the future, Logan Paul has not been absolved of responsibility.
- Class-action Lawsuit: Investors have filed a class-action lawsuit against Logan Paul. They claimed that CryptoZoo was a “rug pull,” a scam where NFT developers abandon a project after taking investors’ money.
- Negative impact on Logan Paul’s reputation: The CryptoZoo scandal had a massive impact on Logan Paul’s reputation, with many fans and followers distancing themselves from him. There are doubts about whether Paul will deliver on his new CryptoZoo promises, as CoffeeZilla states that 1.3 million dollars isn’t enough to refund all investors (5).
- Unfavorable attitude towards the crypto market: The controversy surrounding the Logan Paul crypto projects highlighted the risks and potential scams associated with emerging cryptocurrencies and NFT projects. This outcome may have contributed to a negative perception of influencers, their projects, and the cryptocurrency market as a whole.
1. Transparency is key
Like any other company, transparency with regard to project timelines, follow-ups, and accountability is a must for crypto projects to succeed. Since crypto is a decentralized industry and crypto scams are giving the marketplace a bad rap, trust and transparency are especially important.
For CryptoZoo, Paul would have greatly benefited from keeping his investors updated with a tentative timeline to prevent confusion and outrage. Even though some may be tempted to sweep things under the rug to avoid bad news, from a business standpoint, it’s always better, in the long run, to be upfront with faults and setbacks to cushion your reputation.
For example, when KFC ran out of chicken, they ran an apology that conveyed their sincerity and gave audiences a great laugh, spinning a bad thing into a good touch point with consumers.
— Andrew Bloch (@AndrewBloch) February 23, 2018
2. Educate your audiences
One of the major criticisms of influencer-led crypto projects is the notion that “clueless influencers are selling scams to young, impressionable kids.” To establish trust and authority, crypto businesses and NFT project owners must take part in educating their target audience.
As the cryptocurrency industry develops, everyday investors are getting smarter and will start asking more questions. It’s better to be at the forefront of change by anticipating these questions and answering them. Try to be a thought leader from the start!
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3. Maintain the highest ethics
Of course, the best way to avoid a scandal is to prevent it in the first place. Some early adopters have looked at NFTs and coins as making a quick buck, with little regard for the people they affect. However, the Logan Paul crypto projects taught us to assume that a third party will be tracking your activity and projects.
For influencers and businesses alike, trust is the most valuable currency. Due diligence is not only recommended but necessary. The CryptoZoo scandal underscored the risks of overpromising, under-delivering, and surfacing questionable ethics. Because of the recent crypto scams, people are becoming warier than ever about crypto projects run by influencers.
Logan Paul has a long road ahead of him in fixing CryptoZoo. Thanks to CoffeeZilla, there are more eyes on the past and future Logan Paul crypto endeavors than ever. Influencers promoting crypto and creators of crypto projects must prioritize responsible behavior and transparency in order to build trust and legitimacy in the eyes of fans, regulators, and investors. Whether you are an influencer or a business, never forget that having trust is your biggest asset!