On October 3, along with the start of court proceedings against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), acclaimed writer and financial journalist Michael Lewis released his latest book.
To remind you, SBF was charged with fraud and conspiracy to launder funds. The indictment presents a total of eight counts with a combined possible sentence of 115 years in prison.
Lewis’s book is called "Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon". It is about the rise and fall of one of the most popular characters in the crypto world, Sam Bankman-Fried. The book does not cover specific reasons for the FTX crash or heavy financial reasoning — it rather offers a psychological portrait.
Michael Lewis is known for his book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine”, which was later used as the basis for “The Big Short” film. By the way, if you are not the one who reads a lot, check out our selection of 11 crypto and finance movies.
In this article, we have collected four takeaways from Michael Lewis’ interview about SBF. He talked to CBS News on October 1. Lewis met SBF over a hundred times in two years of working on his book, and "considers Bankman-Fried the most challenging and fascinating character he has ever encountered".
Fact 1. SBF planned to pay Donald Trump $5 billion to stay out of the 2024 presidential election
It might sound unbelievable, but SBF seriously considered paying Donald Trump $5 billion to refrain from entering the 2024 presidential election. While it is uncertain if this sum was directly from Trump, it sparked lots of discussions. However, Bankman had been wondering whether $5 billion was enough and legal for too long. His plan never materialised as he did not have such money anymore as FTX collapsed.
As Michael Lewis puts it, “That only shocks you if you don't know Sam”.
Fact 2. Investors had strong faith in SBF and his projects
Venture capitalists believed SBF would be the first trillionaire, and FTX would become the next Google or Apple.
“They thought FTX had that kind of possibility, that it had a chance to be the single most important financial institution in the world”, says Michael Lewis, describing their fascination.
Fact 3. According to SBF’s best friends, everyone realised he was a terrible manager
SBF’s inability to effectively manage was a significant factor contributing to the exchange’s problems. Lewis notes that “if ever there was a corporate leader in need of adult input to manage 400 employees, it was Sam Bankman-Fried”. So, SBF was often unaware of the members on the company's board of directors. FTX even had no HR department.
Fact 4. Chaos erupted among FTX employees on the day SBF signed the exchange’s bankruptcy
According to Michael Lewis, FTX employees simply abandoned their cars at the airport and fled to the Bahamas, where FTX’s headquarters were, out of fear of local authorities.
“It was the afternoon that Sam had signed the bankruptcy papers. And by then, there'd been a mass exodus”, explains Lewis.
For more stories from the life of now-collapsed FTX’s founder, read “Going Infinite”.
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