Huobi CEO Leon Li on Making Compliant Money, Improving Culture of Huobi, Being in China

Can’t travel to Asia anymore due to Covid-19? Can’t have that meeting that you wanted anymore?

As our team receives ongoing questions and pings from our western readers on the things happening in Asia, we are re-surfacing some of the in-depth coverage interviews and write-ups of notable themes, organizations and figures in Asia that continue to be relevant in the cryptocurrency circle. We hope that once travel opens up again, you’ll be more prepared than ever to pursue and learn about the happenings in Asia.


This is part 4 of 5 on the history and background of Huobi, one of the top crypto exchanges in the world. The section touches on an interview with Li on his thoughts on Bitfinex, compliance and talent management.

To read the rest:

To read part 1, go here– Leon Li, CEO of Huobi, and the History of Huobi (Part 1)

To read part 2, go here– Leon Li, CEO of Huobi, and the History of Huobi (Part 2)

To read part 3, go here– Huobi CEO Leon Li on Achieving Bitfinex’s Efficiency; Acquiring Licenses around the World; Executive Departure

To read part 4, go here– Huobi CEO Leon Li on Making Ethical Compliant Money, Improving Culture of Huobi, Being in China

To read part 5, go here – Huobi CEO on Libra: it will strengthen the financial position of the dollar and further marginalize countries with currencies that were already marginal


Question: You mentioned that the bear market in 2015 was a very difficult time for the industry. Can you share the most difficult moments you have ever had since you started Huobi? Have you ever thought of quitting and not do it?

Li: I never wanted to leave because of the bear market. On the contrary, in 2015, my physical condition was very bad. As a result, I thought about leaving and didn’t want to continue. I feel that my body and ability can’t hold back and I don’t want to hinder the company’s development. But it is not because of the bear market, I mean it depends on your judgment of the industry. If you think that technology development is good, then the bear market is just part of the cycle of industry development. You wouldn’t leave if it weren’t the case.

Question: After you departed briefly for physical reasons… What prompted you to come back later?

Li: Because the company has encountered some problems — mainly in the business direction and management. My principle then was, I won’t show up unless the company needs me.

Question: Has the recent problem been solved?

Not completely solved but we are constantly improving. At that time, the management layer was a mess and various business departments were affected, even affecting the company’s core performance and market share. The company’s performance has improved significantly today.

Question: Since coming back, you’ve been making the adjustments that have taken place inside Huobi have lasted for more than a year. What do you think is the biggest change of the year?

Li: There are a lot of changes. It is difficult to mention all of them. Overall:

1. The strategy has more concentrated and the business has returned to the core,  we are paying more attention to building out the middle and back office.

As you can see, we have not paid much attention to the prospects and publicity of the front end business recently. Instead, we have strengthened the management of the middle and back office,  building a middle and back-office that can provide a strong backing for the business.

2. Strengthen management.

Any fast-growing company will face management problems, include when a business develops fast, management cannot keep up, and culture and values ​​are diluted or even alienated.

Question: What is the culture of Huobi?

Li: There are many values ​​written on paper, but I think the simplest and most intrinsic is “do by righteousness, and do not no evil.” We need to think about whether things we do can bring value and positive energy to society.

Being enterprising, innovative, as well as the qualities many Chinese Internet companies need will be emphasized. Because we are a financial enterprise, we also need a rigorous culture. Before now, we were not rigorously managed and our risk control was poor. We were in a high-risk industry and we must be cautious. 

Many folks who are not Huobi employees, but are under the banner of Huobi. For example, Huobi Club, Huobi Super Partner, and Huobi Cloud are all partners. These are the non-staff of Huobi, but they are branded with Huobi. This is also a management issue. These two cultures are very important.

Question: How do you do it right and not do evil?

Li: We must integrate these values ​​into the rules and regulations and also make them a part of the system. For example, not gambling with users, not inducing nor not manipulating prices, not making false propaganda, and not leaking sensitive information are all prohibited. On the access level, employees are not allowed to view the user profile without permission, and the employee can’t use the information to front-run or gamble with the user. Internal processes can also allow internal audit departments to investigate issues within the company.

There are many ways in which trading platforms can make money. In a nutshell, Huobi must “make ethical money” and earn a service fee. Every transaction on the trading platform allows everyone to earn money. It is impossible for a market to trade or someone to make a loss. What the transaction does is to create a fair and transparent trading environment.

In addition, we do some non-profit businesses such as the Huobi China University and the Huobi Research Institute, and try to contribute to the industry.

Question: Can you share the “most correct decisions” and “wrong decisions” you feel you have done in your business?

Li: The best decision was to create Huobi.The Blockchain market has fared well, and it also has provided me with a good life. The industry very imaginative and has not seen the limitations. I think my choice of going this direction is very correct.

There are many wrong decisions, and I can’t think of which one is the “most wrong”. One impression is that during the strategic expansion period, our strategy was too broad and the decision is too sloppy, and the company had then taken a lot of detours.


To read the rest:

To read part 1, go here– Leon Li, CEO of Huobi, and the History of Huobi (Part 1)

To read part 2, go here– Leon Li, CEO of Huobi, and the History of Huobi (Part 2)

To read part 3, go here– Huobi CEO Leon Li on Achieving Bitfinex’s Efficiency; Acquiring Licenses around the World; Executive Departure

To read part 4, go here– Huobi CEO Leon Li on Making Ethical Compliant Money, Improving Culture of Huobi, Being in China

To read part 5, go here – Huobi CEO on Libra: it will strengthen the financial position of the dollar and further marginalize countries with currencies that were already marginal

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