Person

Sam Bankman-Fried

Nationality:

American

Born:

1992

Occupation:

Cryptocurrency investor

Known For:

Democratic Political Donor

Sam Bankman-Fried is an American-born investor and entrepreneur. He is the founder of FTX, a cryptocurrency futures exchange based out of Hong Kong. He also founded the digital currency trading firm Alameda Research. In 2021, leading business publication Forbes estimated that Bankman-Fried has a net worth of at least $16 billion. Yahoo Finance has reported that it is difficult to precisely estimate the wealth of investors like Bankman-Fried, who holds cryptocurrencies and other assets that cannot be easily converted into conventional currency and often have highly speculative or rapidly fluctuating values. [1]

Bankman-Fried describes himself as a follower of utilitarian philosophy and cites 19th-century English social reformer Jeremy Bentham as one of his inspirations. Bankman-Fried credits his parents, both of whom are law professors at Stanford University in California, with introducing him to utilitarian ideas. During the 2020 presidential election cycle, Bankman-Fried gave approximately $5.2 million to the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden. Yahoo Finance reported that the contribution made him one of the largest individual donors to the Biden campaign, second only to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. [2]

Early Career

Sam Bankman-Fried attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He originally wanted to pursue a career in the academic world, but instead chose to work in finance in order to accumulate wealth that he could give away to charitable causes. He spent three years at Jane Street, a Wall Street quantitative trading company, before leaving his job to start the digital currency trading firm Alameda Research. [3]

Alameda Research

Sam Bankman-Fried launched Alameda Research in 2017. [4] According to him, there was significant interest in trading cryptocurrencies at the time, but not enough liquidity to do so efficiently. Bankman-Fried also says that the infrastructure for trading digital assets was not sufficiently developed at the time, and cites this as one of the primary motivations for launching the firm. [5]

In March 2021, an $80 million deal between Alameda Research and another cryptocurrency firm, Reef Finance, collapsed due to a dispute over the validity of the contract and the vesting period for the digital tokens being exchanged. Denko Mancheski, the chief executive officer of Reef Finance, accused Alameda Research of violating the terms of the deal by immediately selling the first tranche of tokens, worth approximately $20 million, on the digital currency exchange Binance. (Almost all cryptocurrency and other digital asset transactions are permanently recorded on a digital ledger called a blockchain.) In a statement to the cryptocurrency financial news site Coindesk, Mancheski also claimed that all agreements between Reef and Alameda had been verbal only, communicated through a messaging app, and that Alameda had produced “no legal agreement” or “any kind of paperwork.” Regarding Alameda’s business practices, Mancheski claimed that “they portray themselves as a reputable VC [venture capital] fund while in reality they just manipulate projects/retail using their ‘reputation.’” Alameda denied that any vesting period had been agreed upon, and claimed that Reef was responsible for reneging on the deal. [6]

FTX

Sam Bankman-Fried launched the cryptocurrency futures exchange FTX in 2019. According to Yahoo Finance, FTX is one of several major exchanges which are based outside the United States in order to evade “cumbersome” American regulations. FTX bars customers in the United States from making transactions. However, Yahoo Finance reports that implementing geographic barriers is difficult due to the prevalence of virtual personal networks (VPNs) and other tools for disguising the location associated with a user’s internet protocol (IP) address. [7]

References

  1. Roger Parloff. “Portrait of a 29-year-old billionaire: Can Sam Bankman-Fried make his risky crypto business work?” Yahoo Finance. August 12, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ftx-ceo-sam-bankman-fried-profile-085444366.html ^
  2. Roger Parloff. “Portrait of a 29-year-old billionaire: Can Sam Bankman-Fried make his risky crypto business work?” Yahoo Finance. August 12, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ftx-ceo-sam-bankman-fried-profile-085444366.html ^
  3. Michelle Chan. “Hong Kong’s 29-year-old crypto billionaire: FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried.” Nikkei Asia. June 25, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Spotlight/Hong-Kong-s-29-year-old-crypto-billionaire-FTX-s-Sam-Bankman-Fried ^
  4. Roger Parloff. “Portrait of a 29-year-old billionaire: Can Sam Bankman-Fried make his risky crypto business work?” Yahoo Finance. August 12, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ftx-ceo-sam-bankman-fried-profile-085444366.html ^
  5. Brendan Doherty. “Icon: The Untold Story Of Crypto Billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.” Forbes. May 16, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bdoherty/2021/05/16/icon-the-untold-story-of-crypto-billionaire-sam-bankman-fried/?sh=7bbba1355dcf ^
  6. William Foxley. “$80M Deal Gone Wrong: Alameda Research, Reef Finance Spar Over Unloaded Tokens.” Coindesk. March 16, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://old.coindesk.com/alameda-research-reef-finance-spar-over-unloaded-tokens ^
  7. Roger Parloff. “Portrait of a 29-year-old billionaire: Can Sam Bankman-Fried make his risky crypto business work?” Yahoo Finance. August 12, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ftx-ceo-sam-bankman-fried-profile-085444366.html ^
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