Sam Bankman-Fried, sometimes called SBF, is an American entrepreneur best known for founding and running the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and cryptocurrency hedge fund Alameda Research.
In November of 2022, Bankman-Fried’s $15 billion personal fortune and $35 billion exchange FTX came crumbling down due to a liquidity crisis at FTX. It’s alleged that SBF took $10 billion in customer funds out of FTX and secretly funneled it to Alameda Research, his hedge fund that became famous for taking huge bets on other crypto companies. These bets were in the form of loans backed by FTX’s native cryptocurrency, FTT.
When it became apparent that Alameda’s wealth was primarily made up of FTT and other cryptocurrencies (close to $6 billion of Alameda’s $14 billion balance sheet was made up of FTT), instead of more liquid, non-crypto assets like fiat currency, FTX customers and investors got spooked and started withdrawing and selling their FTT from the exchange.
FTX saw withdrawals of $6 billion in the first 3 days of media reporting on Alameda’s holdings. The exchange then had to halt withdrawals as it became apparent that there weren’t enough funds on the exchange to keep up with customer withdrawal demand.
Bankman-Fried is the son of Standford University law professors. SBF graduated from MIT in 2014 and took his degrees in physics and mathematics to work at Jane Street Capital, a global proprietary trading firm and liquidity provider, trading $17 trillion in securities.
SBF would leave Jane Street in 2017 to start Alameda Research. His FTX exchange would be founded in 2019.
Through his success with Alameda and the creation of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, SBF was seen as crypto’s golden child and savior of an industry targeted by hackers and being exploited by snake oil salesmen and poor decision-makers.
He took his massive wealth and power and donated close to $50 million to various Democratic Party politicians including President Joe Biden in the 2020 elections.
He also agreed to offer Blockfi a $250 million revolving credit in June 2022, as Blockfi experienced financial hardships due to the value of most of the cyrpto market’s digital assets falling in value.
Bankman-Fried and Alameda would also commit $500 million in financing to Voyager Digital, a crypto brokerage.
In October 2021, Forbes added Bankman-Fried to the wealthiest person in the world under 30 years old list, with an estimated $20 billion net worth.
As of November 2022, SBF has closed down Alameda Research, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for FTX, has stepped down as CEO of FTX, and is possibly under investigation by the Justice Department, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities Commission of the Bahamas, where FTX is based.