We spoke to crypto mega-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried about his board-game-playing beginnings, the future of FTX, and his political ambitions. Here are the 5 biggest takeaways.
Sam Bankman-Fried is well known in the cryptocurrency industry for building a crypto empire worth about $30 billion in relatively short order.
Bankman-Fried's FTX crypto exchange, founded just over two years ago, is now seeking a $32 billion valuation in a $1.5 billion funding round. But Bankman-Fried's early beginnings centered around playing board games while multi-tasking and always remaining occupied with something in Silicon Valley.
Bankman-Fried, former and current FTX employees, and close acquaintances of the crypto billionaire just how quickly the crypto exchange was able to amass such a big business in a short period of time.
These are the of FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried.
Workaholic Nature of Sam Bankman-Fried
"To build a competitive platform in such a short period of time, Bankman-Fried worked furiously, famously sleeping four hours a night on a beanbag chair next to his desk and taking calls from clients and investors at 3 a.m.."
One incident that summarizes Bankman-Fried's work ethic was when he had been up for 30 hours straight and had just gone to bed when a client called. An FTX employee, who had just seen Bankman-Fried lie down, did not have the heart to wake him up and rescheduled with the client — to Bankman-Fried's chagrin.
"He said 'No, you wake me up next time, there's no question about it.'"
Built So Much With Few Employees
FTX has between 10 and 25 employees working on the exchange and all of its subsidiaries, according to the company. By comparison, Binance currently has around 180 job openings for engineers, while Coinbase has around 120 open roles in the engineering department.
"The single thing I'm most worried about for FTX is that we become slow and dysfunctional," Bankman-Fried said. "I hope we won't, but we've seen it happen at a lot of companies."
FTX's Strong Compliance
Many crypto exchanges have been bogged down by regulations, fines, and sanctions, but not FTX.
"Amy Wu, a venture capitalist at Lightspeed who invested in FTX's most recent funding round, said that as far as she's aware, FTX is the only exchange to avoid negative press around regulation. Wu said her team evaluated both the type of licenses FTX holds in various markets, its open communication with regulators, and its approach to regulation."
"FTX actually is one of the most compliant and closest to regulators of any crypto exchange in the world," she said.
The Altruistic Nature of Sam Bankman-Fried
"Making as much of a difference as possible is really our moral obligation," Bankman-Fried's brother Gabe said. "I think that was something that we took very seriously from an early age."
The brothers are proponents of effective altruism, a philosophy that emphasizes using one's resources to accomplish the most good for others.
Bankman-Fried has "already entered the political realm as one of President Biden's biggest donors in the 2020 campaign, and he appears well-positioned to tackle D.C.'s intensifying spotlight on the crypto space through his formation of relationships with regulators, according to multiple insiders."
"In 10 years, I'm expecting that SBF will be one of the richest people in the world, tackling some of humanity's most critical issues," Noah Dummett, a former trader at FTX said. "A career in politics would not be the most surprising to me either — he's well-placed, with the right motivation behind him to make it happen."Source