At the time, Lee said that the liquidation was aimed at preventing a "conflict of interest" when making comments on the virtual currency. The decision was not well received by critics who accused him of recognizing the mania and cashing in advance of the decline of about 90 percent of the value of the token.
"People lose money and want someone to be blamed," Lee said in a Tuesday interview, "and they think that for some reason I had privileged information, and it's silly, at the time I sold, everyone thought that it would have passed to $ 1,000. "
Lee announced his decision on December 20, 2017, a day after the token reached the record of about $ 375. It has been falling since then, and is now trading at around $ 30. The sale was made through several exchanges to a average price of about $ 200, he said.
The controversy may be the last of its concerns with a few people using money. The number of transactions, which includes anything from speculator trades to payments accepted by merchants, has plummeted since the peak in January.
Lee's focus is on increasing use by merchants. While he said he is unable to provide any statistics on how adoption is going, Lee said he advised the Taiwanese mobile device manufacturer HTC Corp., which recently released a smartphone designed to store and exchange cryptocurrencies .
Lee, based in San Francisco, created Litecoin in 2011 by replicating and modifying the Bitcoin code while working as a software engineer at Google. He then worked as a director of engineering at the Cryptographic Exchange Coinbase Inc., which listed Litecoin while Lee was still on the payroll. He left immediately after the listing to focus on the promotion and development of Litecoin.
Most of his colleagues had a financial stake in the success of their coins. Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of Ethereum, recently revealed his holdings and trades. The executives of public companies are traditionally rewarded with shares and options to have some skin in the game.
"It's fine for a pure investor to decide that something is not worth and sell without warning," said Aaron Brown, a business author and investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion. "But someone who continues to work in one sector while leading to zero a surprise financial exposure does not look good – not illegal, just less than candid."
Lee, 41, refused to say how much Litecoin he once owned, noting that he was already rich before liquidation. He donated part of the proceeds to institutions such as the Litecoin Foundation, where he is on the board of directors, and the Digital Currency Initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"It certainly had a certain effect on people's trust in Litecoin, because people are used to traditional public companies," Lee said. "Unlike the CEOs of public companies, they are not paid to increase the shares of the companies".
Lee owns a small amount of Litecoin which he uses for transactions. And he said he can still donate a little more of his proceeds from last year's operations.
"My feeling is that there will be a handful of cryptocurrencies that will actually be used as money," Lee said. "There's obviously a lot of scams and currencies that are not useful to everyone, and those values will fall in. You'll see some coins die and the forts will survive."