Justin Sun: From Ripple Employee to Tron Founder

Justin Sun is one of the most influential people in crypto.

Justin Sun in a wooden boat at the ocean at sundown

Some people know Justin Sun as the young millionaire who bid $4 million for lunch with Warren Buffet. Others know him as the crypto innovator who founded TRON. And many others don’t know him at all. 

However, 32-year-old Justin Sun isn’t just your average tech millionaire millennial who wears t-shirts and sneakers everywhere. He’s so much more than that. 

Justin’s story, from studying history to being a tech guru, is a complicated tale of grit, courage, and in some ways, luck. 


Many questions have followed Sun from the first day he broke into the limelight around five years ago. People want to know what his background is like. They want to know his relationship with the Chinese government. They want to know whether he’s the real deal or some millennial fake that crypto is fond of minting every once in a while. 

They want to know who Justin Sun is. Well, now they can.

Justin, The Origin

Justin Sun’s family is originally from Shandong, China. However, Sun was born in Qinghau and grew up in Guangdong. Like many people his age, Sun was very fond of the internet. He spent a lot of time online and performed poorly in school. 


He eventually realized that he needed good grades to get into a decent university, so he picked himself up. His grades recovered, and he gained admission into Peking University, one of China’s best universities. Interestingly, Justin didn’t gain admission to study anything tech related. Instead, he chose history and spent three years studying for the degree at Peking. 

Afterward, he moved out of the country and went to the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. Sun didn’t study tech at the University of Pennsylvania either. Instead, he got a master’s degree in Political Economy. Despite not being a tech-inclined field, this degree would put Sun on the path to making an outsized impact on the world of crypto. 

In  2012, Justin Sun learned about Bitcoin and started investing in it. According to some reports, he made these investments with his tuition fees. Around this period, Justin decided to change the world, and being an entrepreneur was the only way to do it. 

The Entrepreneur

The next year, in 2013, Sun had learned enough about Bitcoin to work in crypto. He’d also become incredibly wealthy by investing in crypto, as the price of the coin jumped to a thousand dollars. 

So he started looking for opportunities in the ecosystem. He somehow got the attention of Chris Larsen, the CEO of Ripple, and Sun became Ripples’ first employee in China. His experience at Ripple gave him enough leverage to branch out on his own, and that’s precisely what he did. 

Once he left Ripple, Sun tried his hands at his first startup, a voice-based dating app called Peiwo. The app, which directly translates to “accompany me,” targeted millennials and connected similar people through live audio chats based on a ten-second voice recording of the users. 

Peiwo became a huge success quickly, and Justin found even more success.

The Jack Ma Connection

After getting his degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Justin decided to further his education. Luckily for him, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma was starting Hupan, an extremely exclusive school for entrepreneurs, around that period. And Sun was one of the 30 students handpicked to form the school’s inaugural class. 

Students who wanted to get into Hupan had to own a business that had existed for over three years and had at least thirty employees. Additionally, the company must also have a monthly turnover of over four million dollars.

Because of Sun’s success with building Peiwo, Jack Ma noticed and invited him personally to join the university. He was the only millennial in the inaugural class. Sun was around 25 years old at the time, and he soon got endorsements from the Chinese establishment. 

In 2015, state-owned online broadcaster CNTV called Sun a pioneer of China’s young entrepreneurs. Little by little, Sun was moving up in the world. But it wouldn’t be until 2017 that he would make his huge mark. And he did that through what made him a millionaire in the first place; crypto. 

The Tron Legacy

While studying at Hupan, Sun continued to work on certain pet projects. One of those projects was Tron. In 2017, he established the Tron Foundation and tasked it with creating Tron, a blockchain-based decentralized platform that could share digital content. 

The platform was an instant success, as its initial coin offering raised over seventy million dollars.

At this point, Tron was built on the Ethereum network, and Sun believed the platform was good enough to stand on its own. And that’s exactly what he did. A year later, Sun moved Tron from Ethereum onto its own blockchain. 

However, Sun wasn’t about to rest on his laurels. He used the Tron foundation to purchase BitTorrent, a file-sharing service. In 2019, Tron had a market cap of over a billion dollars, and Sun was already becoming one of the most important voices in crypto. 

Around this time, Sun finished Hupan and his thesis was titled “The Birth Of A Decentralized Internet.” 

In 2021, Justin Sun stepped down as the CEO of Tron and was appointed as the Grenadian ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO). That appointment opened his eyes and made him realize he wanted to promote crypto in South American countries like Grenada. To do that, he decided to participate in Grenada’s citizenship-by-investment program and became a citizen of the country. 

At the time, Justin was already a multi-millionaire. He’d achieved his dream of being a famed entrepreneur, but was he going to change the world?

Justin Sun; The Man

Despite Justin Sun’s immense success, many people still think he’s a fake. While they hardly allege any crime Sun may have committed, they insinuate that he’s merely an “entrepreneurial actor” in the market. 

China’s GQ magazine, for example, published a profile of Sun that outlined his efforts to hire professional public relation personnel to help him manage his fame — before he even had any. 

While it’s difficult to say whether these accusations are right or wrong, it’s important to note that Sun is a very flamboyant character. He is no stranger to courting the media, and he hardly shies away from having his opinions heard. 

The Warren Buffet Meal

Like many others, Sun is often sharing the crypto gospel as a stakeholder in the crypto ecosystem. But unlike his peers who merely talk about the possibilities of crypto to regular folk in regular forums, Sun has gone to great lengths to change the minds of important personalities personally.

In 2019, Sun paid almost five million dollars in a charity auction for a meal with Warren Buffet. Buffet is a staunch critic of cryptocurrencies and has argued that they are “probably rat poison squared.”

Sun believed he could change Buffet’s mind, so he bought the dinner and set the date. Unfortunately, Sun fell ill a few days before the dinner in 2019 and had to postpone it to 2020. The dinner eventually happened, and Sun gave Buffet a Bitcoin in a Samsung Flip Z phone. 

Sun also gave Buffet a bronze horse because he said that he and Buffet were born in 1930 and 1990, the Year of the Horse, respectively. Lastly, he gave Buffet a  “traditional Chinese paper cutting of mouse in celebration of the Year of the Mouse 2020.”


Sun’s experience in the world of crypto has not been all rosy. He also had some bad experiences. For one, Vitalik Buterin has accused Sun of plagiarizing the Tron whitepaper.

This happened when Sun came on Twitter to discuss why Tron was a better asset than ETH. Sun argued that Tron was a better class of assets because it had consistent coin burns, zero fees, and developer rewards. 

Vitalik decided to give Sun another reason and tweeted that Tron had a better whitepaper since it could copy and paste instead of writing new content.

Vitalik could make these claims because Tron had found itself in a plagiarism scandal earlier in 2018. The whitepaper for the asset seems to have relied heavily on other assets but included no citations. 

When his attention was drawn to this, Sun refused to speak about the allegations directly and instead insinuated that this was the fault of people who translated the document to English from Chinese. 

Instead of facing the allegations of Vitalik directly, Sun decided to thank him for his reply and all the help Tron had gotten from Eth. He neither admitted nor denied the allegations and left them as they were. Of course, that could be a strategy not to fan the flames of falsehood, but it could also be a way for Sun to avoid addressing serious improprieties.

On the Flipside

  • There’s a lot of skepticism about how genuine Justin Sun and the entire Tron network are, especially as the network’s algorithm stablecoin depegged from the dollar for an entire month.

Why You Should Care

Justin Sun is one of the most influential people in crypto. If you take his opinions seriously, you should know his origins, what he stands for, and everything else about him.

FAQ About Justin Sun

Does Justin Sun still live in China?

Justin Sun lived in China while completing his studies at the Hupan school in Yuhu Bay, Xihu. However, he’s since then left Chins and now lives in Grenada, where he is now a citizen and a diplomat. 


Did Justin Sun work in Ripple?

Justin Sun doesn’t work at Ripple presently. However, he used to work at the company, and he was Ripple’s first employee in China. 


Is Justin Sun the founder of Tron?

Justin Sun is the founder of Tron. He founded the Tron foundation in 2017 and tasked the foundation with creating the Tron platform. Justin’s vision for Tron was to be the premier decentralized platform for sharing digital content. 


Does Justin Sun keep his money in TRX?

The exact details of the personal finances of people like Sun are usually well hidden from the public. However, we know that Sun keeps the bulk of his wealth in Bitcoin and Ethereum. Whatever TRX he holds is certainly not a big part of his wealth. 


Is Justin Sun a billionaire?

Justin Sun isn’t a billionaire. However, he’s still a wealthy man, as his net worth is in the millions. Since most of his wealth is in crypto, it fluctuates quite rapidly, so it’s difficult to put a number on it. 


How is Justin Sun related to Tron?

Justin is the founder of Tron, and Tron as an entity would not have existed without his input. 


For how long has Justin Sun been living in the United States?

Justin Sun grew up in China, but he moved to the United States in his early twenties to study at the University of Pennsylvania. Since then, Sun has lived around the world and is currently a citizen of Grenada. 


How did Justin Sun get the citizenship of Grenada?

Grenada has a citizenship-by-investment program that encourages investors to invest a certain amount in the country in return for its citizenship. In 2021, Sun was appointed as the Grenadian ambassador to the WTO, and since then has spoken glowingly about advocating for crypto in countries like Grenada. Sun recently acquired citizenship in the country through its citizenship investment program. 

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Victor Fabusola

Victor Fabusola is a Blockchain & Crypto Content Writer. He excels in crafting long-form educational guides, opinion pieces, and reviews in niches such as DeFi, NFTs, and Web 3.0. Outside of his work at DailyCoin, he loves conscious hip-hop and classical music and engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations with his friends.