The crypto king gambled that his trading platform would make him a benevolent trillionaire. But after a fraud conviction, all bets are off.
There comes a moment in the development of a new technology when the hype is so common it passes for common sense. Lawyers, accountants and regulators are nowhere to be found. Investors insist entrepreneurs take their money. The world trembles on the brink of change.
For dot-coms, the moment was 1999. For artificial intelligence, it was just over nine months ago. For cryptocurrency, it was 2017.
Six years ago, Sam Bankman-Fried knew little about alternative currencies. But he correctly bet there were huge opportunities in grabbing a tiny piece of millions of crypto trades. In the blink of an eye, he was lauded as being worth $23 billion. Only Mark Zuckerberg had accumulated so much wealth so young.
The Facebook co-founder has his critics, but he looks like Thomas Edison next to Mr. Bankman-Fried. After a speedy trial in Manhattan federal court, the onetime crypto king, now 31, was convicted on Thursday of seven counts of fraud and conspiracy involving his companies FTX and Alameda Research.
Mr. Bankman-Fried once partied with stars and big shots, doled out fortunes in looted funds to politicians and himself, was acclaimed as the next Warren Buffett, employed his friends and made them rich for a while, was courted by the news media that printed his most banal comments. For a time, everyone loved Sam Bankman-Fried — with the apparent exception of Sam Bankman-Fried.
“I am, and for most of my adult life have been, sad.” That plaintive statement appears at the end of testimony Mr. Bankman-Fried had hoped to give Congress last winter before his arrest scuttled his plans. He was onto something.
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