Sam Bankman-Fried, From Crypto Hero to Zero
It is an earthquake with persistent aftershocks. The collapse of crypto empire FTX, which filed for chapter final Friday after operating out of money, raises the specter of a chronic nuclear winter for a sector that was hit laborious by the Luna/Terra summer time crash. At the middle of this scandal, comparable to the bankruptcies of Enron and Lehman Brothers, is one man: Sam Bankman-Fried. Suspected of utilizing his purchasers’ funds to cowl losses at his buying and selling firm Alameda Research, the 30-year-old, who noticed his fortune soften from $16 billion to virtually zero in per week, is the goal of a judicial investigation. United States and Bahamas.
Man beneath spell
The son of two Stanford University regulation professors, Sam Bankman-Fried (“SBF”) obtained his begin on Wall Street after attending Boston’s prestigious MIT. In 2017, he based the buying and selling agency Alameda Research. He made about $20 million in just a few weeks shopping for bitcoins within the US which he resold at a better value in Japan.
Bankman-Fried launched FTX in California in 2019 after which moved to Hong Kong, the place laws are extra versatile. The ascent is meteoric. In three years, FTX, which moved to the Bahamas for tax causes, has change into the world’s 2nd largest crypto alternate after Chinese Binance. Everyone, together with celebrities, needs their share. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, however Steph Curry additionally grew to become model ambassadors and attended the capital. The Miami Heat basketball corridor grew to become FTX Arena, with the rights bought for $130 million. Larry David performs skeptics in a industrial broadcast in the course of the Super Bowl. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair attend a crypto convention within the Bahamas. Sam Bankman-Fried, who runs his empire with a dozen roommates who all reside in a heavenly mansion, is the king of the world.
An “altruistic” white knight
Although the decentralized and deregulated Far West of cryptocurrencies usually attracts right-wing libertarians, the Bankmann-Fried conflict. A nerd in a t-shirt is a left-wing vegan who advocates “purposeful altruism.” He grew to become the second-largest donor to the Democratic Party within the 2021-2022 election behind George Soros, with practically $40 million given to progressive candidates.
When the crypto sector skilled extreme turmoil final summer time, SBF was white knighted. In explicit, it flies with the assistance of lenders Voyager Digital and BlockFi. The younger entrepreneur claims he has “just a few billion” available to stabilize a struggling trade.
In actuality, it was FTX that wanted assist. On November 2, the specialised website Coindesk, which obtained an accounting stability sheet from Alameda Research, revealed the illicit relationship between the 2 entities. The buying and selling firm is run by Caroline Ellison, believed to be Sam Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend. And greater than half of Alameda Research’s property are literally FTX-issued cryptocurrency tokens, known as FTT. A very worrisome lack of diversification is due to the sector’s hyper-volatility.
The chain response is brutal. Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire boss of Chinese alternate Binance, introduced on November 6 that he could be liquidating greater than $500 million in FTT he held. FTT value dropped 80% in three days. FTX clients panicked and withdrew practically $6 billion from the alternate, akin to a “financial institution run.” Binance introduced it might purchase FTX then gave up after conducting an audit.
According to The New York Times, FTX loaned Alameda Research up to $10 billion, which it reportedly defaulted on. Crypto recordsdata for chapter safety November 11 Sam Bankman-Fried was succeeded as CEO by John Ray, a lawyer who oversaw Enron’s chapter. The fallen boss took to Twitter to apologize for being “drunk”. An understatement