Samuel Bankman-Fried, FTX’s ousted CEO, the man no longer worth $16 billion

Samuel Bankman-Fried, en juillet 2022.

Samuel Bankman-Fried, or “SBF” to his fans, is a pure product of the American elite. Born in 1992, he is the son of law professors from the prestigious Stanford University and studied physics and mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Within MIT, he notably joined a fraternity called Epsilon Theta. This brings together about thirty students living in community in a large house located away from campus, but the atmosphere is quite far from the usual image of American fraternities: here, no alcohol, but rather sophisticated board games, logic contests and video games.

It was also at this time that SBF discovered the philosophy of “effective altruism”, the one that would give new meaning to the life of the young student, who until then had intended to become a teacher. This current of thought born at the end of the 2000s aims to rationally maximize the positive impact that we can have on the world.

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This philosophy promotes, among other principles, the so-called “earning to give” approach: followers are encouraged to choose high-paying careers and then donate a large part of their fortune to causes deemed beneficial to humanity. At the end of his studies, SBF joined Jane Street Capital as a trader in 2013.

Neglected style and used car

After cutting his teeth in the traditional financial industry, he decided in 2017 to launch his own company, Alameda Research, specializing in high-risk cryptocurrency trading. He will earn his first million dollars by exchanging bitcoin between Japan and the United States.

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Building on its first successes, SBF continued its momentum and founded a new company, in 2019, of which he became the CEO: FTX, for “Future Exchange”, is a cryptocurrency exchange based on the same model as Binance and Kraken. .

FTX comes at the right time in the market. Indeed, the price of cryptocurrencies explodes during the confinement of 2020, which benefits the whole sector, but especially the newcomer. In 2021, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s success seems indisputable. He moved the headquarters of his stock exchange to the Bahamas, where he lived in a huge penthouse with a dozen ex-employees of Jane Street Capital or acquaintances from MIT who had become the main executives of FTX and Alameda Research.

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Among them is Caroline Ellison, the CEO of Alameda and former girlfriend of Mr. Bankman-Fried. Driven by the enthusiasm, FTX finds itself propelled into the top 3 of the world’s main cryptocurrency exchanges, and the young MIT graduate becomes a multi-billionaire in a few months.

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