This day of Nov. 8, Sam Bankman-Fried will never forget it.
The young 30-year-old billionaire was just before that day considered the tutelary figure of the crypto sphere. A sort of godfather to turn to when things go wrong.
He owed this image to his tour de force during the summer to bail out and save crypto firms struggling due to a credit crunch caused by the sudden collapse of the cryptocurrencies Luna and UST or TerraUSD, two tokens issued by the Terraform Labs platform.
The fall of these two tokens hit hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, also known as 3AC, which found itself unable to honor its payments to crypto lenders, including Voyager Digital and Celsius.
Voyager and Celsius filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while 3AC was forced into liquidation.
SBF, as he is nicknamed in the crypto industry, has, through his firm FTX Ventures, embarked on an acquisition spree and bailouts of struggling crypto firms to avoid a collapse of the sector.
He gave credit facilities to lenders Voyager Digital and BlockFi and acquired a significant 7.6% stake in Robinhood, the brokerage house for Gen Z and millennials. He has an option to buy BlockFi.
From a Fortune of $15.6 Billion …
More recently, Bankman-Fried concluded a deal with Anthony Scaramucci, who was ever-so-briefly White House director of communications under former president Donald Trump. FTX Ventures will acquire 30% of Skybridge Capital, the alternative investment company founded by Scaramucci, aka “The Mooch.
“I do feel like we have a responsibility to seriously consider stepping in, even if it is at a loss to ourselves, to stem contagion,” Bankman-Fried told NPR.
This new stature has seen him become a major donor to campaigns of pro-crypto politicians and a whisperer to lawmakers and regulators. Bankman-Fried has been spending more time in Washington, D.C., in recent months while his main residence is in the Bahamas where his company FTX.com is domiciled.
The ambassadors of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX are none other than NFL star Tom Brady and NBA star Stephen Curry.
On the morning of Nov. 8, Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimated SBF’s fortune at $15.6 billion. Besides FTX, Bankman-Fried also owns the Alameda Research cryptocurrency trading platform. He invested in Robinhood (HOOD) , in which he holds 7.6% of the capital.
… To $1 Billion
This stake in the popular trading app was valued at $761 million on the morning of Nov. 8. His 55% stake in FTX was worth about $6.2 billion. Alameda Research was its most expensive asset with a valuation of $7.4 billion.
But all this was shattered on Nov. 8 when Bankman-Fried announced on Twitter that his empire was going to be bought by his great rival Changpeng Zhao and his company Binance.
SBF did not give the reason for this thunderclap which left financial circles in shock. But Zhao in a separate tweet explained that FTX was facing a liquidity crunch. Basically, SBF was on the verge of running out of cash. The savior has become the saved.
“This afternoon, FTX asked for our help. There is a significant liquidity crunch. To protect users, we signed a non-binding LOI, intending to fully acquire http://FTX.com and help cover the liquidity crunch,” Zhao wrote.
As a result, SBF’s wealth thus melted and was no longer valued by Bloomberg Billionaires Index at $1 billion at the end of the day on Nov. 8. To arrive at this calculation, Bloomberg assumes that the bailout of FTX and Alameda will melt shareholder shares, leaving the two companies worth just $1.
This leaves SBF with the stake in Robinhood, which has also diminished as the shares of the company were also liquidated after the FTX-Binance bomb. This stake is now valued at $618 million, which represents 62.4% of Bankman-Fried’s current net wealth.
The former Jane Street Capital trader is now a king without a throne and without a kingdom.
He fell from his pedestal.
The consequences of this brutal and spectacular fall will resonate for a long time on the crypto industry which wants to disrupt traditional financial services.