Charlie Lee, Litecoin’s founder, has done it again: bashed a competing project publicly, then deleted his tweets. This is happening more and more commonly lately, and it’s a sign of feeling threatened. But what does Charlie Lee have to be afraid of, anyway? Let’s take a look.

During the early days, competition was sparse

When cryptocurrency first came around, there was only Bitcoin, with no other challenger to its throne as crypto king. As a first-of-its-kind innovation, it dominated the field so soundly that even when other similar projects cropped up, they largely tried to run experiments on specific feature sets and carve out a small piece of attention that was otherwise heavily focused on moving the space forward by backing its largest actor. No one was seriously trying to be the new Bitcoin, or something else entirely, but more importantly no one really knew what they were doing either. It was all new, and people were trying things out.

The original coins cropping up around this time, named “altcoins” because of their fate of playing second fiddle to Bitcoin, largely held true to this. Litecoin experimented with the Scrypt mining algorithm and higher supply with faster block times, BitMonero (later Monero) implemented advanced privacy techniques, Xcoin attempted the X11 mining algorithm and later its own form of advanced privacy as Darkcoin, and so on. Darkcoin became Dash and set out to continuously innovate an grow over the years with the masternode infrastructure, advanced security, governance, instant transactions, and more, however many of its peers largely stayed the same.

Today’s crypto scene is dominated by a tight circle of influencers and businesses

Right now, well before mass adoption, the strongest players in the cryptospace are largely those who have been around a long time. We have the exchanges such as Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken, Bitfinex, and others, while commonly known pundits and influencers make up a string of familiar faces from back in the day as well. These are the same players that ruled the jungle when it was new, but do not have to compete against the newer crop in this newer world. As such, they have it in their best interests to attempt to block new entrants into the space. This is why you hear commonly-heard voices speaking ill of new projects, using words like “centralized” and “scam” without thorough explanations behind those terms. The old guard are exerting their influence to make sure they stay the way they are.

Litecoin would have a rough time against any reasonable competition

There’s no two ways about it: birthed today, Litecoin would have no chance. Bitcoin runs on the considerable head start in usage, liquidity, and infrastructure it has maintained, providing real utility as the “gold standard” of the space while its practical use in purely technological terms lags in this modern era. Litecoin performs the same basic functions with a moderately increased transaction capacity, but without the massive network effects and developer community of its predecessor. It essentially works, though can’t seriously think to compete on an even playing field with a newer competitor with advanced privacy, instant transactions, a self-funding ecosystem, improved ease of use, and so on. The one thing still going for it is the aforementioned “good old boys club” of influencers and companies that will promote it above newcomers and keep competitors out of the space. Harsh, certainly sad, but true.

People are starting to wake up, and that’s terrifying to the old guard

You may or may not have noticed, but the shrill tone of many top influencers has only started to increase recently. Friendly voices who previously loved Bitcoin but entertained momentary positive comments about other projects in the space have become radicalized, declaring “all alts will die” and the like. Company executives have spoken out more strongly against competitive projects that their own company services. And everyone’s favorite “nice guy” of the space, Charlie Lee, is becoming more nasty and aggressive.

This is not a coincidence. The cracks are forming on the old illusion the influencers worked so hard to create. People are starting to find out that there is no major development in Litecoin, with Lee having to backtrack and go on damage control tours. People are calling out Coinbase, CoinDesk, and any number of established crypto institutions for preferential treatment for their old buddies and against threatening competition.

How will this end? Who knows. But it’s safe to say that the era of dominance by the good old boys club of magical crypto friends is coming to a close.