Speaking at the Virtual Blockchain Week (VBW), Tron founder Justin Sun presented his side of the recent events involving Tron’s "partnership" with Steemit Inc, and the subsequent hard fork that resulted in Hive (HIVE) forking away from Steem (STEEM).

During February, it was reported that Justin Sun had acquired Steemit Inc alongside the platform’s founder’s reward of 20% of the total STEEM token supply. In response to the purported acquisition, the Steem community moved to initiate a fork to freeze the reward.

Sun rejects the narrative of Tron "acquiring" Steemit Inc

At VWB, Sun stated that he does not think the term “‘acquisition’ is the right word to describe the partnership between the Tron Foundation and Steemit Inc.”

“At the beginning, we didn't use the word acquisition, we more talk about partnership,” said Justin, seeking to clarify the nature of the relationship:

“Steemit Inc take a certain percentage of the tokens inside of the Steemit ecosystem, and also Steemit.com is one of the most important apps in the ecosystem [...] Bitcoin, like Steem, is definitely decentralized, but [some] of the companies, they hold lots of the Bitcoin. So that’s the relationship between the company and the Steem blockchain.”

While emphasizing his preferred nomenclature of "partnership," Sun acknowledged that, as one of the largest decentralized apps operating on Steem, “Steemit Inc definitely has some influence on the Steem blockchain.”

Binance and Huobi vote against Steem node operators

In March, Sun controversially collaborated with major exchanges Binance and Huobi to oust Steem’s former node operators — prompting reports of a hostile takeover. 

The exchanges quickly withdrew their votes — including customer funds that had mobilized for governance voting — claiming that they were unaware they were supporting the removal of Steem’s node operators.

The incident proved to be the final straw in the dispute, with the Hive hard fork transpiring over the following weeks. The Hive hard fork froze the founder’s reward, prompting retaliation from Steem — freezing STEEM tokens associated with the actors who spearheaded the hard fork.

“First of all, when Steemit Inc [got] into the Steem ecosystem, we find out our assets are frozen by some malicious actors,” Sun stated during VBW.

“When Hive do the hard fork, they actually frozen and take all the funds of those people who disagree with them not only us, the community in Korea, and China — they just take their funds in the Hive blockchain,” he asserted. “That’s why we collaborated with the exchanges — to get those funds recovered [...], and that's why we believe we are doing the right thing.”

“We just recovered the funds [...] we didn't do anything other than that. We collaborated with some third parties to refund all the funds for the users, [...] and after that, we leave all the decisions to be made by the Steem community.”