BSV has been in turmoil for almost its entire existence. The Bitcoin Cash fork led by Faketoshi Craig Wright has been marketed by its participants as the real Bitcoin, and their efforts have only hurt BSV's future.
With Craig Wright known around the world as a conman pretending to be Satoshi Nakamoto, Calvin Ayre has begun to ramp up his marketing machine in a desperate attempt to keep BSV alive.
The first clues of a BSV shill agency
Lightning Sharks, at first glance, appears to be a normal business operating in London with international branches. However, once I began to dig under the hood, this front of a "normal marketing agency" began to fall apart fast. After locating the Lightning Sharks X account, a few glaring things began to stand out.
Right off the bat, it's obvious they have an extremely low follower count given the type of work they do. This is odd for a marketing agency who should want to reach new customers in different industries. It makes sense only when you realize Lightning Sharks is trying to keep a low profile to distract from the fact they only serve the BSV ecosystem.
The small samples above show the dominance of BSV in their client base. Patrick Thompson and Patrick Prinz follow them; a top CoinGeek writer and the COO of nChain, respectively. Calvin Ayre's venture firm, Ayre Ventures, is also a follower. Notably, their follower base and the people they follow are virtually the same.
Shifting focus to the Lightning Sharks website, it features many odd details you would not expect from a typical UK marketing agency.
Every company that gave a testimonial about Lightning Sharks is based in the BSV ecosystem. This page alone demonstrates that Lightning Sharks does a significant amount of marketing work for BSV.
"The Bitcoin Association" is the organization with full ownership over the BSV protocol. As such, they also control the BSV node software, which includes a new ability: freezing and reassigning coins based on court orders embedded into code.
"Since the inception of the Bitcoin Association, we have worked closely with Lightning Sharks on our branding, marketing and events campaigns, PR, video production and overall communications."
That statement shows how truly close the Bitcoin Association has been to Lightning Sharks since the start; they do a sizable portion of the Bitcoin Association's branding, marketing, event campaigns, PR, video production and... overall communications.
The Calvin Ayre workers behind the scheme didn't name it the "BSV Association" because "Bitcoin Association" is a term designed to mislead novice investors into thinking it is the organization behind Bitcoin. In reality, no such entity controls Bitcoin. Simply put, they are lying to investors by claiming their project is the real Bitcoin, when in fact, it is a centralized Bitcoin Cash fork controlled by Calvin Ayre and Craig Wright.
Tokenized is a Calvin-Ayre-funded "DeFi" app, and, naturally, has not seen any success.
Rounding up the list, we have Calvin Ayre's mining firm, TAAL, which ultimately provides the majority of the BSV hash rate. Recently, Ayre took the company private in an attempt to stay afloat and avoid the protocol collapsing. Notice how the testimonial from TAAL stated:
"We worked closely with Lightning Sharks in the rebranding of our company."
But, this story goes far deeper than some testimonials and social media followers.
Calvin Ayre's PR agency
It's no surprise to any intelligent individual that Calvin Ayre funds almost everything in the BSV "ecosystem." As a result, BSV is a Potemkin village in reality versus the image of a bustling enterprise blockchain ecosystem that Ayre desperately wants you to believe. But, did you know that Lightning Sharks is also the PR agency for Calvin Ayre?
Online posts made by Ayre-led BSV companies, such as the Bitcoin Association and CoinGeek, show that you must contact a Lightning Sharks PR employee before you can formally reach a higher level employee like Kurt Wuckert Jr or Ayre himself.
Trusting a single marketing agency for all your PR needs is a pretty big gamble, unless, of course, it's run by the same people you trust every day.
CoinGeek = Lightning Sharks
Lightning Sharks posted some telling pictures on their Facebook account, but none on their website. What you find very quickly are some top CoinGeek employees, such as... Charles Miller, the documentary guy behind Ayre's failing CoinGeek interview series "CoinGeek Conversations," who you can see in the bottom left of the above Lightning Sharks team picture.
What this shows is that CoinGeek's production agency is indeed Lightning Sharks. This is further confirmed by an X post demonstrating that they are also behind CoinGeek conference events such as "Bitcade."
In a vain attempt to maintain any neutrality, the Lightning Sharks social media manager put both BSV and Bitcoin as hashtags in the above tweet. This may fool your average BSVer, but it's obvious to anyone not involved in the project that Lightning Sharks only serves BSV.
Recently, Craig Wright appeared in a highly staged "Masterclass with Satoshi" where he made a failing attempt to teach aspiring BSV developers about the basics of the protocol. The reason for this is Craig Wright can't code. Another interesting fact about these events is they were produced by none other than Lightning Sharks. This also appears to be the case for every other CoinGeek conference, as you can see.
Calvin Ayre Servants
Bitcoin Journalist Arthur van Pelt discovered some interesting nuggets about the inner workings of Lightning Sharks. There is another woman working at Lightning Sharks who is key to the operations of BSV: Natalie Mason. A close confidant of Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre, she is a BSV marketer and production specialist who will spearhead the future Faketoshi documentary.
You can see below how she is a blind supporter of Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre, but this is not due to a genuine belief in the tech; she's a paid worker like all the others. It's hard to imagine that even someone with her skills as a former BBC production specialist and Netflix worker can turn the Faketoshi disaster into a watchable flick.
Also, there is definitive proof that Ayre is behind Lightning Sharks:
An army of shills
In order to spread the word about BSV and combat the truth, an army of paid shills is needed. The Bitcoin Association careers board has a wealth of information demonstrating Lightning Shark's true nature as a recruiter of BSV marketers. As it turns out, it's virtually effortless to become a BSV marketer hired by Lightning Sharks.
In the above job listing, one can observe that Lightning Sharks is hiring a paid "content marketing writer." Notice in the listed tasks that the hire would be responsible for "social media copy." Given that the Lightning Sharks X account is extremely bare, this job listing is clearly for another purpose, which is marketing BSV on social media platforms.
In the last year, there has been a sizable jump in random, small X accounts spamming BSV marketing prompts. Combining this fact with the above job post and the original r/BSV post, can lead one to the conclusion of Lightning Sharks being the mysterious entity hiring these seemingly normal individuals.
They appear to be real people, who likely took it as a side job. Repeatedly spam the same BSV marketing prompts every day on social media? Doesn't sound like a difficult job.
It's highly likely an AI chatbot like ChatGPT is being utilized for these marketing prompts. This strategy would make it effortless to replicate across these random accounts. In addition, there is now evidence that the BSV Association has been exploring its own AI chatbot to market BSV.
Here is an example of a likely Lightning Shark. The most important part of this profile is that the Bitcoin Association follows it. For a 242 follower account, with seemingly no relation to BSV, this is an obvious clue that this account is doing BSV marketing work. Notice how the person behind this account put "Social Media Influencer" as the professional category, since this will be important shortly.
"Glenn" writes marketing posts for BSV as if he's been on the scene for years. He tried to claim he came from the BSV gaming scene, but there's no evidence of him doing anything notable related to BSV other than shilling it on X.
The account is verified, so a real person is behind the account. You'll also notice since the publishing of this article, Glenn has removed the "Social Media Influencer" label; this is unsurprising given the evidence in this article showing that hilarious mistake.
The whole scheme is known as astroturfing, which X user @Bitnorbert wrote an excellent explanation in his own thread about Lightning Sharks. Essentially, accounts that do marketing work for an organization, such as the Bitcoin Association, obfuscate their involvement and try to appear simply as fans. When you press them, they deny all involvement, like Glenn.
Some of them are even caught off guard. Another likely Lightning Shark deleted his/her X account after pressing them on their true nature. This is confirmation that the owner of this account acknowledged the existence of Lightning Sharks before account deletion. @Bitnorbert also discovered that this account used a stock profile picture.
Since the goal is to reach as many people as possible, X is of course not the only social media platform where Lightning sharks has likely shills deployed: Enter the Reddit version.
Notice how this individual only posts in the official BSV cult subreddit, r/BitcoincashSV. There are certain shill accounts which post random things in between their posts in an attempt to obfuscate involvement, but "Galamayan" has no qualms spamming BSV propaganda all day long.
Most importantly, in the original account from "Dodong," he/she lists themselves as a "Social Media Influencer" in the exact same way "Glenn" did by utilizing X's professional categories selector. This revelation demonstrates a standardization across Lightning Sharks accounts. Humorously, someone must have thought this category selection present in multiple shill accounts would not appear suspect, when it logically indicates the complete opposite.
Upon further investigation, this has also been done for Glenn as well; enter: his second account.
Lightning Sharks has so many possible shills, that BSV analyst Peter Scott-Morgan made a spreadsheet tracking the various accounts, totaling over 60.
Lightning Sharks is a Calvin Ayre company functioning as both the marketing and PR team for the Bitcoin Association, CoinGeek, and other BSV organizations. Their marketing strategy involves tactics like astroturfing to achieve a goal of mass BitCoinization (BSVers refer to BSV as BitCoin).
Luckily, the random accounts likely controlled by Lightning Sharks stick out like a sore thumb, leaving knowledgeable people not to fall for their scheme. In effect, this marketing strategy is failing miserably.
The lengths to which Calvin Ayre and his team will go to market a fake version of Bitcoin is truly staggering. But, it is hard to imagine Ayre can do much else, since the Faketoshi scam is running out of steam. Lightning Sharks highlights the true hilarity and desperation of BSV in its final days.
*Updated with new contributions from Bitcoin journalist Arthur van Pelt