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Things seem to have calmed down in NEO town after a Friday Tweet by Malcolm Lerider sent the market into a frenzy, taking NEO’s price from $28 to $48. The vague Tweet, titled ‘A challenge to the community’, was interpreted to mean a major announcement was coming, particularly around China’s ICO ban and NEO’s possible partnership with governmental bodies.

There was a lot of fake news, even doctored conversation screenshots which spread considerable FUD and FOMO. Some of the claims included:

“China is going to allow ICOs which use NEO;
China is going to ban cryptomining except NEO and BCH
Bittrex is listing GAS
Bithumb is listing NEO
And Chinese government supporting NEO in multiple ways (from tech grants to partnerships)”

While NEO Council member Malcolm Lerider did Tweet a small clarification, it was far from what the community wanted to hear:

“There is now circulating fake pictures of chat history... there will be no news about regulations tomorrow, just so that everyone is clear on that.” 

The Tweet from Friday hinted at big news in three days, and news did come out on Monday, with a whitepaper release from NEX – a decentralized exchange using the NEO blockchain and a development competition from NEO, in partnership with Microsoft.

However, none of these developments seemed to match the hype that had built up, and as time passed, NEO’s price started dropping slowly. Eventually, Malcolm gave a response on NEO’s slack channel, when a user asked if he used the hype to trade NEO, but it came a little too late, as he revealed that the major news was the development competition:

"I did not, for whatever it's worth. I'm not a trader and my only crypto is NEO, everything in cold storage. I moved across China together with my fiancee to join this project. She left everything to come with me.
I'm committed to building smart economy, I don't care for trading and I hope my posts at least show a grain of integrity. I'm on vacation and still spend 80% of my time working. The "picture" was posted in NEO official WeChat first and I forwarded it after asking what the announcement was about, as I do with other NEO events and pictures. My twitter happened to be the source for West. The "riddle" was completely lost among regulation rumors and photoshopped pictures, which we denounced as soon as it came to our attention. The "new" thing we wanted to present today was the competition together with Microsoft, thereby "A challenge to the community".
The github competition template was leaked and created rumors that happened to be true, so it didn't come as a surprise. We could obviously have handled the weekend in a better way, and we will evaluate it in detail.
We didn't react too much on the rising price since Ontology alone is huge for us, and NEX is also big. Part of the "marketing" was that we want some attention on these ecosystem developments as well, but it got overshadowed by rumors. We have more than enough evaluation to do now."

While the management can’t be blamed for the hype, the price surge and the sell-off that ensued, leaving NEO dropping to $34, there are community members who feel it was irresponsible of them not to intervene and clarify things, especially when comments, Tweets and publications all indicated the market’s state.

Some of the responses on Reddit reflect the same sentiments:

“...There was absolutely no info released worth of a pre announcement, especially not the announcement of a development competition. I'm not saying I need neo to "go to the moon". I totally believe in this project, but the utterly incompetent handling of this announcement is concerning, especially for a team that is generally very quiet. They had three entire days to walk the comments back.”

“I can see how this was just a shared image that got out of hand, and I wouldn't really blame him, but there are a few problems where they really have screwed up:

1) Follow up/mitigation. They could have provided more info when it was getting out of hand. 2) Aftermath communication: I haven't seen this info from NEO. Only a report from Slack. I don't have Slack. 3) The worst offender: Fred! Why are you still insisting there is more big news when there isn't any?!”

Currently, NEO’s trading volume is down to $243 million, from Saturday’s $434 million, and while the market cap has dropped from Sunday’s high of 2,795,440,000 to 2,596,080,000, it is still higher than it has ever been. The market price for NEO also seems stable around $34, but it remains to be seen whether it will drop further or not.