Last week, Sam Bankman-Fried was the king of crypto. Now he’s a supervillain. FTX Trading — the young, shorts-wearing exec’s cryptocurrency exchange company, once backed by Larry David and Tom Brady — collapsed in the span of a week. On Friday, they filmed for bankruptcy, leaving millions of people and companies short of funds they may never see again. Details continue to pour in, many of them bizarre. Now, to make things even more surreal, Bankman-Fried has been sending unhinged DMs to reporters.
Vox reporter Kelsey Piper revealed that on Tuesday night she spent an hour chatting on Twitter with Bankman-Fried, who’s mostly spent his infamy sleeping and playing video games, and may or may not be on the run. She asked hard questions; she got weirdly, distressingly honest-seeming answers. For one thing, his previous public stance as an agent of do-goodery who’s even open to the crypto world being regulated? Partly a façade.
“f*ck regulators,” Bankman-Fried told Piper. “they don’t protect customers at all.” He’s not against regulation per se, but he claims that regulators, at least the ones running the show nowadays, “can’t do it” because they “can’t distinguish between god and bad.”
So is that why he may have done some supremely shady things, such as allegedly gamble with — and lose — billions of other people’s money? It’s not clear. He told Piper, “I didn’t want to do sketchy stuff” and that he “didn’t mean to,” adding that “each individual decision seemed fine and I didn’t realize how big their sum was until the end.”
Piper spoke with Bankman-Fried over the summer, long before the collapse of his company and reputation. When reading back some of the altruistic beliefs he shared — like how one should never do “unethical s*it,” he replied, “heh,” laughing off “all that dumb s*it I said,” which he revealed was “not true, not really.” He even agreed that the “ethics stuff” was mostly a “front.”
Bankman-Fried was also pressed about one of the wilder parts of the FTX collapse: that they had transferred billions to a sister company, Alameda Research. He said that their promise that they would never invest their deposits was “factually accurate,” but only, it seems, because it was Alameda that had done it. He admitted he “thought Alameda had enough collateral to reasonable [sic] cover it.” Turned out he was wrong, to which he said, “life creeps up on you.”
Oh, and that missing billion or so dollars that can’t be accounted for? Bankman-Fried blames it on the hack that hit the company last weekend.
Bankman-Fried eventually admits he “f*cked up,” “big,” “multiple times.” But his biggest regret wasn’t that he lost billions. It was that he filed for Chapter 11, thus losing control of the company, which he swears he could right if he had the chance. As of now, he has “2 weeks to raise $2b.” Surely that will be difficult, if not impossible, given that his name — and possibly his entire future — is in the toilet. To that, he can only point out that “a month ago I was one of the greatest fundraisers.”
You can read the full article — and see many of his DMs — over at Vox.