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Sam Bankman-Fried cryptocurrency ftx robinhood ceo, crypto wife net worth

Sam Bankman-Fried cryptocurrency ftx robinhood ceo, crypto wife net worth
In April, Mr. Bankman-Fried spoke at a conference in Nassau called Crypto Bahamas.

A Vision of the Crypto Emperor: No Pants, His Rules.

Sam Bankman-Fried is a billionaire who goes out of his way to look sloppy. He made his money by managing trades that are too risky for the U.S. market. He wants Washington to do what he says.

Sam Bankman-Fried, a crypto executive who built a $40 billion business in less than three years and became famous for it, stood in the halls of the Baha Mar convention center in his usual sloppy outfit of shorts and a T-shirt. He was about to go on stage with Anthony Scaramucci, who used to be the White House communications director but lost that job in less than two weeks and became famous because of it.

They were talking about other people who were well-known. A few days before, Mr. Bankman-Fried was making Twitter videos with NFL quarterback Tom Brady. "Brady was awesome," Mr. Bankman-Fried said. "Perhaps one day we'll buy a football team together." The Mooch put a fatherly hand on the shoulder of Mr. Bankman-Fried. He agreed, "You couldn't find a better guy."

Next, they talked about Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry, who had gone to dinner with Mr. Bankman-Fried earlier in the week. Mr. Bankman-Fried said, "Orlando is a lot of fun," as a production assistant messed with his microphone. They first met at a party in Los Angeles during Super Bowl weekend. "He started talking to me right now." He said it turned into one of those awkward situations where you know you should know someone but can't place them.

Mr. Bankman-Fried, who is 30, is easy to spot: He is known as SBF by people who are into blockchain, and his hair is always a tangled mess of black curls. He started the cryptocurrency exchange FTX in 2019 and is now one of the world's richest crypto executives. At Baha Mar, Mr. Scaramucci took off his jacket and put on a T-shirt and shorts to match his friend. When the lights went out, he and Mr. Bankman-Fried walked onstage to do what passes for a comedy sketch at an international crypto conference: A bit of semi-scripted conversation was about how their clothes were the same. Mr. Bankman-Fried said, "The Hanes special."

The crowd cheered. In late April, Mr. Bankman-Fried was in charge of the first Crypto Bahamas conference. This event was a showcase for FTX and a clear sign of his growing fame and power. Everywhere he went, crypto entrepreneurs shook his hand, gave him a fist bump, patted him on the back, and pitched projects to him or gave him branded gear. One afternoon, Mr. Bankman-Fried was in charge of a panel with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. They talked about blockchain technology and the war in Ukraine. "I'm glad you all came to see me today," he told the packed house, making everyone laugh.

No one is laughing any more. In the past few days, the collapse of a so-called stablecoin called TerraUSD has sent the crypto market into a panic. This has sped up a dramatic sell-off that has sent the prices of Bitcoin and Ether crashing. Mr. Bankman-Fried threw a big party for the industry at Baha Mar. This past week, he tried to calm things down by tweeting long threads about the market.

Mr. Bankman-Fried was at the conference with Anthony Scaramucci last month.
Mr. Bankman-Fried was at the conference with Anthony Scaramucci last month.

SBF has been happy to play both of these roles. For a long time, political ideologues, shady con artists, and rich guys with yachts ruled the crypto industry. Mr. Bankman-Fried wants to give the still-messy world of digital assets a new look. He lives modestly for a billionaire and has promised to give away almost all of his wealth, which Forbes says is now worth $21.2 billion. He has a super PAC that recently gave more than $10 million to a Democratic congressional candidate who supports some of his philanthropic goals. He is becoming a bigger player in political fundraising.

Mr. Bankman-Fried might tap his foot or spin a fidget spinner in public to make himself feel better. But the awkwardness is part of a planned way to show who they are. Through many tweets, interviews, and TV appearances, he has positioned himself as a straight-talking brainiac who is open to regulation of his new industry and willing to criticize its worst practices.

Now, Mr. Bankman-Fried is trying to use his fame to influence policy in Washington, at a time when the risks of crypto trading are becoming more obvious. He often travels from his home in the Bahamas to the Capitol to meet with regulators and testify in front of Congress. If he is successful, he could become one of the most influential people in the new era of technological experimentation, which supporters call "web3." He could write the rules for a number of risky investment products that are changing the internet, finance, and even the arts.

But people who don't like him say that he is only advocating for himself. People have said that his political contributions change the way competition works to help him get what he wants. And the Washington "charm offensive" has worried consumer advocates, who say that FTX is making crypto markets even more volatile and putting investors at risk.

FTX is a way to get into the world of cryptocurrencies. A curious investor can turn dollars into Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or Ether with the click of a button. It's as easy as buying paper towels at Target, except that the value of a digital asset can disappear overnight due to the kind of market changes that have caused the prices of cryptocurrencies to drop over the past month. In the US, crypto exchanges are in a legal gray area because it's not clear if the tokens are securities, commodities, or something else. Mr. Bankman-Fried has been pushing for a regulatory structure that gives the Commodity Futures Trading Commission more power. The CFTC is smaller and less aggressive than the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it has been more friendly to the crypto industry in the past.

Part of the reason FTX has its headquarters in the Bahamas is that 80% of its $1.1 billion in global revenue comes from a trading instrument that is still illegal in the United States. On the FTX platform, investors can borrow money to make huge bets on how the prices of cryptocurrencies will change in the future, which could lead to astronomical gains or huge losses. Risky trades like these are very popular all over the world. Now, Mr. Bankman-Fried is asking the trading commission to let these kinds of leveraged bets happen in the U.S. This would set a good example for other crypto companies that want to try out new products.

Even as the market crashed this week, Mr. Bankman-Fried was busy making his case. On Thursday, he was in Washington for a hearing in front of the House Agriculture Committee. There, he defended FTX's trading proposal and talked about how important it is for the government to regulate cryptocurrencies.

He said, "It would help a lot of people at once." "We'd love to be a part of that," they said.

Will MacAskill helped Mr. Bankman-Fried understand what it means to "earn to give."
Will MacAskill helped Mr. Bankman-Fried understand what it means to "earn to give."

Brought up as a utilitarian

Mr. Bankman-Fried uses numbers to weigh his options before making any kind of business decision. He often asks coworkers, "What's the expected value?" before putting numbers on each possible outcome: If the result is good, the EV is positive; if it is bad, it is negative. He once spun around in his chair while a few coworkers made sex jokes about crypto in the office. Was there any positive EV in giving out condoms with jokes on them at a conference coming up? (The answer was yes: "Never breaks, even during large liquidations," one of the FTX-branded wrappers said.)

This style of being practical comes from his childhood in the Bay Area. Both of Mr. Bankman-parents Fried's are law school professors at Stanford. They have studied utilitarianism, which says that decisions should be made to bring the most happiness to the most people. Joseph Bankman, Mr. Bankman-father, Fried's said, "It's the kind of thing we'd talk about at home."

As you might expect from a young man who grew up talking about moral theory over dinner, Mr. Bankman-Fried likes Peter Singer. Singer is a philosopher at Princeton University who is often called the "intellectual father" of "effective altruism." This is a way of giving money that focuses on making the most of what you give. When Mr. Bankman-Fried was an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he had lunch with Will MacAskill, who helped start the Center for Effective Altruism and was one of Mr. Singer's students. Mr. MacAskill said, "He said, 'Oh yeah, I was raised as a utilitarian.'" "I had no idea that was going on."

Mr. MacAskill told Mr. Bankman-Fried about an effective altruism model called "earning to give." In this model, people who want to help others focus on careers that pay well and try to make as much money as possible before giving it away. The story interested Mr. Bankman-Fried. After getting his degree in physics, he took a job at Jane Street, a high-frequency trading firm, and started giving away half of his pay to charity.

In 2017, Mr. Bankman-Fried quit his job at Jane Street and started a crypto trading company called Alameda Research. The business was doing very well. Almost every day, entrepreneurs made new coins, and the government had to work hard to keep up. Mr. Bankman-Fried said, "Everyone was talking about crypto." "You can actually get to it as an individual. You don't have to be a big business with a decade of experience." He rented an office in Berkeley, where traders in their 20s worked around the clock.

Mr. Bankman-Fried pretty much lived at work. Most nights, he slept on a beanbag chair next to his desk. He would sometimes stop by his apartment to take a shower, then change into khaki shorts and jog back to the office, which was the only exercise he had time for. Colleagues were both impressed and confused by how hard he worked. "The office has always had beds. Sam Trabucco, one of the first people to work at Alameda, said, "We always turn the conference room into a bedroom." "Never does he use them. The beanbag chair is his favorite."

When Mr. Bankman-Fried started his company, he noticed something strange about the crypto markets: Bitcoin was about 10% more expensive in Japan than in the United States. Cross-border arbitrage could be done because of this difference. Alameda could buy Bitcoin in the U.S., sell it in Japan, and keep the money she made. This trade seemed easy, but it was complicated by the fact that digital assets were still seen as the domain of hackers and drug dealers by the financial sector.

Mr. Bankman-Fried has said, "I think it's important for people to think I look crazy."
Mr. Bankman-Fried has said, "I think it's important for people to think I look crazy."

Large crypto transfers set off alarms at U.S. banks, so Alameda had to come up with a solution on the spot. The young traders were sure that crypto was the future of money, but they had to use very old tools to buy and sell it. Nishad Singh, who was an early employee at Alameda and is now the director of engineering at FTX, said, "We spent hours every single day in banks, like a physical location close to the office, sending wires by hand."

Even though there were problems, the arbitrage operation brought in $20 million for Alameda in just three weeks. But Mr. Bankman-Fried soon found that the firm's trading strategy had other flaws. He didn't like the infrastructure of the crypto exchanges that were already out there, which he thought were often poorly run.

In 2018, Mr. Bankman-Fried went to a crypto conference in Macau by plane. It was the first time since Alameda was founded that he had gone further than a mile from the Berkeley office. He went on a trip around Asia, where he met industry colleagues for the first time, and started to think about what the business could do in a more business-friendly regulatory environment.

A few days after he got to the United States, he sent a Slack message to his colleagues in California saying that the company was losing millions of dollars in expected value by staying there.

Cultivating a mystique

After the conference, Mr. Bankman-Fried moved his group of quants to Hong Kong within a few months. He finally gave some of his longtime colleagues control of Alameda and began building a new exchange. It was the right time to start FTX: After prices fell, the cryptocurrency market was about to experience a worldwide boom. Mr. Bankman-Fried and his partners got very rich very quickly. Every day, FTX handled trades worth hundreds of millions of dollars and took two basis points, or two one-hundredths of 1 percent, from most of them. Companies like Sequoia and SoftBank, which are well-known venture capital firms, lined up to invest. Together, FTX and its U.S. affiliate are now worth $40 billion.

As Mr. Bankman-business Fried's grew, he started to make a name for himself in the public eye. He tweeted about his favorite video games and went on TV to explain crypto to the general public. But he wouldn't act like a typical CNBC guest would. Andy Croghan, a coworker at Alameda and FTX, told him to clean up his look before one of his first TV appearances.

Mr. Croghan said, "I told Sam, 'Dude, you need to cut your hair. It looks stupid.'" "And he said, 'I really think that cutting my hair would be negative EV. I think it's important for people to think I'm crazy.'"

Mr. Croghan learned to go along with that plan. Mr. Bankman-Fried often takes power naps on his beanbag between meetings. At the FTX office in Hong Kong, Mr. Croghan would make sure that important guests arrived while Mr. Bankman-Fried was still sleeping. He would then show them to a conference room where they could see the CEO sleeping. Mr. Bankman-Fried would eventually get up and, usually wearing shorts, walk into the meeting. Mr. Croghan said that the goal was to build up a sense of mystery. He said, "Sam and I would choose not to wear pants to meetings." Sam told me, "Congress is the only group of people I'd wear long pants for."

Mr. Bankman-Fried did what he said he would do. In December, he spoke at a congressional hearing. He wore a dress shirt and long pants, and the shoelaces on his shoes were tied in a strange-looking triple knot. In April, he also got dressed up for a meeting with Caroline Pham, a newly appointed C.F.T.C. commissioner, where he talked about the leveraged trading proposal. Ms. Pham posted a picture of herself with Mr. Bankman-Fried on Twitter. She later took it down after critics said she was getting too close to the industry. (In a statement, Ms. Pham said she posted the photo to promote transparency and that she pushed FTX on a number of parts of its proposal, including protections for retail customers.)

Mr. Bankman-Fried moved FTX to the Bahamas last year, where the government has made regulations for the crypto industry that aren't too strict. Mr. Bankman-Fried can easily get to Washington from his new base. Almost all of the big crypto companies have lobbyists, but it's rare for a CEO to be directly involved like Mr. Bankman-Fried is.

Brett Harrison, president of FTX's U.S. arm, said, "A company can hire an army of lobbyists in D.C. to walk into a congressperson's office." "That's not nearly as useful or important as the people who run the company. We've been given such a warm welcome."

Consumer advocates are worried about how hard the company is lobbying in Washington. The leveraged futures trading that FTX wants to offer in the US can be risky, especially in a market as volatile as crypto. Lee Reiners, who used to work for the Federal Reserve and now teaches at Duke Law School, said, "It's just something that people shouldn't do." "Most of these traders won't be very skilled, and I don't think this is a good product for anyone."

In February, Mr. Bankman-Fried spoke in front of a Senate committee (clad in a suit). He wants to sell a risky trading product in the U.S., but he insists that his company's platform is safe.
In February, Mr. Bankman-Fried spoke in front of a Senate committee (clad in a suit). He wants to sell a risky trading product in the U.S., but he insists that his company's platform is safe.

Mr. Bankman-Fried insisted in an interview at the resort in the Bahamas that FTX's platform was safe: He said that the company has put in place protections for small investors and cut the amount of leverage that traders can use. "We talk to all of our regulators regularly," he said. "It would be strange if the people in charge wouldn't talk to us."

Mr. Bankman-Fried has a bigger plan than just lobbying for the company in Washington. He is becoming more important in the financial world, and he recently bought a 7.6 percent stake in the stock-trading platform Robinhood. In the last two years, he has also raised a lot of money for political causes. He gave $5,6 million to Joe Biden's campaign for president, making him one of the biggest Democratic donors of the cycle. And he gives money to a super PAC called Protect Our Future, which has given more than $10 million to Carrick Flynn, an Oregon House of Representatives candidate who is running for the first time. A rival campaign in that state said that Mr. Flynn was getting his money from "a tax-dodging billionaire in the Bahamas" because of how much he was spending. (Asks for comments from Mr. Flynn went unanswered; the primary is set for Tuesday.)

Mr. Bankman-Fried said that his contributions have nothing to do with crypto. He said that he is interested in the race because Mr. Flynn backs projects that he has paid for with his charity, such as efforts to get ready for the next pandemic. Mr. Bankman-Fried gave away $50 million last year to help fight pandemics and study artificial intelligence. He also works to stop climate change and backs more unusual projects, such as research into the "governance of planets" in space. He wants to give away as much as $1 billion this year.

Mr. Bankman-Fried said, "The things that matter most are the ones that have a long-term effect on how the world will look." "There are more than a trillion people who haven't been born yet."

Even among effective altruists, that's not a way to do charity that everyone agrees on. Mr. Singer's scholarship helped start the movement. Over the years, he has gotten to know Mr. Bankman-Fried and says that his giving is "wonderful and really quite amazing." But Mr. Singer has pushed him behind the scenes to take on more of the problems that are plaguing the world today.

Mr. Singer said, "I've told him to think about giving to a good charity that helps people in extreme poverty." "I'm not sure I got him to agree with that."

Philip Davis, the prime minister of the Bahamas, has said that crypto investors are welcome.
Philip Davis, the prime minister of the Bahamas, has said that crypto investors are welcome.

No time for parties

During most of Crypto Bahamas, Mr. Bankman-Fried went back and forth from his laptop to the stage of the convention. Even his mother, Barbara Fried, had a hard time getting time alone with him: One afternoon, she was trying to get his attention when a blockchain bro in a polo shirt walked up to Mr. Bankman-Fried and asked him to record a birthday message for a friend. A few minutes later, he was backstage shaking hands with Tony Blair and talking awkwardly about Brexit.

Unlike some crypto conferences, the one in the Bahamas was only open to people who were invited, and it was full of wealthy people. As a party favor, FTX gave its guests discounts at a company that rents out private jets. On the bus ride to a beach party, one guest talked about his crypto yacht collective, which he called "the most exclusive club that's the most inclusive once you're in."

In places like Puerto Rico, crypto millionaires looking for tax breaks have caused housing prices to skyrocket, which has angered people who have lived there for a long time. But the Bahamas' political leaders have been very open to FTX. Prime Minister Philip Davis gave an upbeat speech at the start of the first day of the conference. He said that crypto entrepreneurs are "better wired for innovation and change than most people on the planet." Later, in an interview, Mr. Davis said that when Mr. Bankman-Fried wore a suit to a meeting at his office, it was a pleasant surprise. Mr. Davis said that he told him, "We want you here."

Mr. Bankman-Fried didn't go to most of the conference events, but he still did his job as host. He had dinner with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and he rarely said no to a selfie request. He also gave Mr. Scaramucci a lot of time. Mr. Scaramucci is the head of SALT, a company that helped put on the conference.

The end of Crypto Bahamas was marked by SBF's double act with the Mooch. Back in the green room, FTX employees hugged and high-fived each other. Mr. Bankman-Fried was going through his phone by scrolling. He put his hands through his hair and stretched. After that, he looked at his watch. About four minutes had gone by since the joke. He said, "I have a lot of emails to catch up on."

Outside, the convention center was emptying out as hundreds of crypto fans headed to the airport. It was quiet before everything went crazy. Guests had to walk through the Baha Mar casino, which was the largest in the Caribbean. It was a brightly lit hall with flashing slot machines.


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