A new story from Spellcaster: The Fall of Sam Bankman-Fried


My colleagues said to me, hey, Brett, you worked at Jane Street. Do you know this Sam Bankman -Fried guy? And I said, I do. Why? Brett Harrison had last seen Sam at his Jane Street going away party. Sam had said he was leaving the finance world behind. And they said, well, do you know he is a multi -billionaire, founder of a crypto exchange? Brett decided to reach out. They exchanged a few texts catching up. Then, a few months later, Sam got back in touch. What he said was, if you'd like to come to FTX, we would love still to have you, which was a very strange text because we had never talked about the idea of me coming It was strange, borderline arrogant. But Brett wasn't uninterested in FTX. The possibility of being on the ground floor of a company shaking up how finance worked was exciting. I said, well, sure, well, if you would still love to have me, let's talk about it. His job was going to to be set up the US arm of FTX as president. He knew this was a young company, and he he had felt a like lot to offer. I mean, he was never super explicit about what it was about me that he wanted within his company, but it felt like, OK, well, I have a lot of experience. I've worked places for almost a decade prior to joining FTX and FTX US. Maybe this is part of the reason why Sam ultimately wanted me to join the company. That November, Brett touched down at Linden Pindling International Airport in the Bahamas. Brett was looking forward to getting some time with Sam to discuss his new job, but that was easier said than done. Sam was working all the time, but working meant he was always in the office, always on a call. He was on podcasts. He was on interviews with media. He was talking to investors. He was always on a call talking to other people, and so was largely unavailable. Brett didn't have much luck connecting with the other executives either. Sam had surrounded himself with old friends. There was Gary Wang, the company's chief technology officer. He was one of Sam's friends from the frat at MIT. Gary, he showed up to the office around 5 p .m., and he apparently worked until something like 4 a .m. And I am more of like an 8 to 5, 8 to 6 kind of person, as I most think humans are. There was Nishad Singh, the director of engineering. Sam knew him from school. high Nishad was more the person who actually talked and was responsible for dealing with a lot of the personnel issues that maybe Sam or Gary want didn't to deal with themselves. But Nishad only got in at 1 p .m. So he was also extremely busy. He didn't see much of Caroline Ellison. By now, Sam had made her co -CEO of Alameda alongside another one of Sam's college friends, Sam Trabuco. They were in a separate little building from FTX, and so I basically didn't see them at all unless you ran into them as you were leaving. Brett began to wonder what he'd got himself into. So I found myself in that office, not being able to talk to any of the people I flew all to the the way Bahamas to talk to and thought, this is kind of a waste of time. After the trip to the Bahamas, Brett felt a little funny, but startups could seem weird to new hires.

Coming up next