It’s been a rough week for Sam Bankman-Fried, the US entrepreneur, investor and fallen crypto whizz-kid.
FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange platform he founded in 2019, which reached a valuation of $32bn in 2021, has suffered a collapse of epic proportions. Between $1bn and $2bn of customers’ money has vanished.
Those witnessing Bankman-Fried’s demise have been unsparing in their attacks. The (former) billionaire has been widely condemned as a crook, criminal, ponzi scammer or, as some have ever so crudely put it, a “sanctimonious fraud” who “f**ked five million people at once.”
But not all is lost for SBF. While papers such as the Spectator may be revelling in his “delicious fall”, at least he’s got a friend in the New York Times.
On Monday, the NYT gained exclusive access to the FTX founder, publishing the first interview piece with him since his public fall from grace. The softball article has prompted quite the backlash. Critics have accused the paper of attempting to launder his reputation by painting him as a troubled businessman, not a crook. Even the new chief twit took to the bird app to protest: “Why the puff piece NY Times?” Musk asked.
The article includes many of SBF’s highly questionable assertions without providing proper context and seemingly little pushback. For instance, it writes: “Alameda [SBF’s trading firm] had accumulated a large ‘margin position’ on FTX, essentially meaning it had borrowed funds from the exchange…” Characterising the $4bn of customer funds moved from FTX across to Alameda under SBF’s watch as “borrowing” is wildly misleading, critics have pointed out. “Stealing” customer funds would be a more apt description.
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Those reeling at the NYT won’t be best pleased to hear that in just over a week, SBF is being given another chance to tell his side of the story. The NYT is hosting the “DealBook Summit” on 30 November, a live event on business, culture and politics in which it promises to “bring together today’s most vital minds on a single stage.” Speakers include the likes of Vlodymyr Zelensky, Mark Zuckerberg, Benjamin Netanyahu, Tik-Tok founder Shou Chew, BlackRock’s Larry Fink and, last but not least – you guessed it – Sam Bankman-Fried…
For those wanting to hold the disgraced crypto tycoon to account, perhaps just buy a ticket and pounce at audience question time. The best part of all: the fee to attend the day conference is only $2,499… what a steal.
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