5 facts you should know about Sam Bankman-Fried

the richest man in crypto

1/6 ● Business of Business
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1. Bankman-Fried got his start on Wall Street before going all-in on crypto

Photo: FTX Official/YouTube.

After graduating from MIT in 2014 with a degree in physics and a minor in math, Bankman-Fried started full time at Jane Street Capital, the proprietary quantitative trading firm where he had been an intern the summer before.

Jane Street is known as the top Wall Street firm no one’s heard of, and much of its business comes from ETF arbitrage — a strategy Bankman-Fried would partially adopt in his first crypto venture, Alameda Research.

2. His interest in politics doesn’t stop at crypto regulation

Bankman-Fried has been politically active in the last two years, contributing over $5.2 million to Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign in 2020 and helping to bankroll the Protect Our Future super PAC (read our story about crypto super PACs here).

3. Bankman-Fried has made a splash in the sports world, too

It’s not just Super Bowl ads. After American Airlines decided not to renew its expiring naming rights to American Airlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat, FTX snapped them up for $135 million.

This was the first instance of a crypto company buying the naming rights to a major stadium — the deal was later followed by Crypto.com’s renaming of L.A.’s Staples Center, now known as the Crypto.com Arena, for which the company paid a reported $700 million.

4. Bankman-Fried considers himself an “effective altruist”

What’s the best way to do good? That’s the question effective altruists ask themselves, often examining hard data and randomized controlled trials in order to maximize their charitable contributions.

Bankman-Fried exemplifies the “earn-to-give” model of effective altruism, which holds that one should attempt to make as much money as possible in order to maximize the possibility of charitable giving.

Bankman-Fried recently estimated that he has given away $50 to $100 million to various causes so far, and FTX donates 1% of all fees collected by the platform.

5. Biggest challenge launching FTX wasn’t building it or raising capital

Bankman-Fried had previously worked in proprietary trading firms that barely interfaced with the public. He told us that raising the money to start FTX wasn’t a problem, nor was building the product.

Rather, it was marketing the product to its consumers, namely crypto traders, that presented the most significant hurdle.

His solution? Going user by user to figure out how to improve the platform and hoping that its reputation as a better trading platform would spread organically.

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