Acclaimed non-fiction columnist Michael Lewis is writing a book about cryptocurrency tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried, whose business dramatically imploded on Friday, forcing him to file for bankruptcy.
Up to $2 billion in client funds had disappeared from the company’s books in recent weeks. The disgraced CEO and members of his inner circle are now being watched by the authorities and are believed to be entrenched in the Bahamas.
Lewis, 62, has spent the past six months shadowing Bankman-Fried, 30, traveling with him and interviewing him extensively, he revealed on Friday.
His previous books The Big Short, Moneyball and The Blind Side became Hollywood blockbusters.
The Ankler first reported this literary agent Michael Snyder informed his contacts that Lewis had six months of material on Bankman-Fried – who had a spectacular argument with the founder and CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao.
Zhao, head of the world’s largest bitcoin and crypto exchange, said last week that he intended to save Bankman-Fried’s company FTX, but later backed down, saying FTX was not. steady.
Lewis compared the pair to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
“Michael hasn’t written anything yet, but the story has become too big for us to wait,” the agent said in his email, obtained by the pinner.
Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short, Moneyball and The Blind Side, has been interviewing Sam Bankman-Fried for six months
FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (left) and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (right) were compared by Lewis to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader
Snyder continued, “His childhood, early success on Wall Street, his embrace of effective altruism, and the creation of a crypto empire that catapulted him into the ranks of the world’s wealthiest people in record time seemed more enough for a book by Michael Lewis.
SBF: Vegan son wearing Stanford law professors hoodie who sleeps four hours a night
Sam Bankman-Fried, a vegan who sleeps four hours a night, had become a public face of cryptocurrency, with a personal fortune once estimated at nearly $25 billion.
FTX’s success has allowed the platform to forge high-profile partnerships, including with American football legend Tom Brady and former supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and it has featured comedian Larry David in a Super Bowl television commercial.
Almost always appearing in a hoodie and dark T-shirt, Bankman-Fried has pledged to donate nearly all of his fortune to his favorite causes, like animal welfare and the fight against global warming. climatic.
The son of Stanford Law School professors and an elite graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he was born on the Stanford campus and raised in California.
Sam Bankman Fried, 30
He worked as a broker on Wall Street before turning to cryptocurrencies in 2017.
Bankman-Fried moved the company to the Bahamas, where taxes are almost non-existent, saying the Caribbean nation is “one of the few countries with a comprehensive licensing regime for cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges. -currencies”.
He has been a strong advocate for smoother access to the crypto market for the general public, especially in the United States.
“Of course, the events of the past week provided a dramatic surprise at the end of the story.”
In August, Lewis discussed his new book in general terms in an interview with Financial News.
“I really don’t want to reveal exactly what I’m writing about,” he said.
“But I’ve found a character that I can write through – he strangely connects Flash Boys, The Big Short and Liar’s Poker.
“I suppose it’s possible that it will be presented as a crypto book, but it won’t be a crypto book.
“It’s going to be about this really unusual character. You’ll learn all about crypto and you’ll learn what screwed up the market structure in the United States and so on.
FTX had a unique valuation of $32 billion and substantial ties to the entertainment industry.
Ads featuring Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, as well as Larry David, were widely promoted, and Steph Curry and Naomi Osaka served as paid endorsers.
Bankman-Fried received plaudits as he quickly rose to superstar status as the world’s potentially first billionaire.
Born in Stanford, Calif., he had founded FTX in 2019, and it has grown rapidly – it was recently valued at $32 billion.
The son of Stanford University professors, known for playing the “League of Legends” video game at meetings, Bankman-Fried has attracted investment from the highest echelons of Silicon Valley.
Until last week, Bankman-Fried was considered a white knight of the industry.
Whenever the crypto industry experienced one of its crises, Bankman-Fried was the likely person to fly in with a bailout.
When online trading platform Robinhood was in financial trouble earlier this year — collateral damage from falling stock and crypto prices — Bankman-Fried stepped in to buy a stake in the company as a show of support.
When Bankman-Fried bought the assets of bankrupt crypto firm Voyager Digital for $1.4 billion this summer, it brought relief to Voyager account holders, whose assets have been frozen since its own bankruptcy. This rescue is now in question.
As the king of crypto, his influence was beginning to spill over into political and popular culture.
FTX has purchased premier sports sponsors with Formula Racing and the naming rights to an arena in Miami.
Bankman-Fried is seen in December testifying at the House Financial Services Committee hearing titled Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States.
He pledged to give $1 billion to Democrats this election cycle — his actual donations were in the tens of millions — and prominent politicians like Bill Clinton have been invited to speak at FTX conferences. .
Sequoia Capital, which has invested in Apple, Cisco, Google, Airbnb and YouTube, described their meeting with Bankman-Fried as likely “a conversation with the world’s first billionaire.”
Sequoia enthusiastically invested in FTX after a Zoom meeting in 2021.
‘I don’t know how I know, I know. SBF is a winner,’ Adam Fisher of Sequoia Capital wrote in a Bankman-Fried profile for the company, referring to Bankman-Fried by his popular online nickname.
The article, published in late September, has been removed from Sequoia’s website.
Sequoia reduced its $213 million in investments to zero.
A pension fund in Ontario, Canada also reduced its investment to zero.
In a terse statement, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund said: “Understandably, not all investments in this start-up asset class are meeting expectations.”
Bankman-Fried had been the subject of criticism before the collapse of FTX.
Elon Musk also shared a rude meme that portrays Bankman-Fried as the star of a pornographic film titled ‘Man F***s 5 Million People At Once’.
While largely operating FTX outside US jurisdiction from its headquarters in the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried was increasingly vocal about the need for increased regulation of the cryptocurrency industry.
Many crypto proponents oppose government surveillance.
Now, the collapse of FTX may have helped make the case for tighter regulation.
One such critic was Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao.
The feud between the two billionaires spilled over to Twitter, where Zhao and Bankman-Fried collectively commanded millions of followers.
Zhao helped initiate the drawdowns that doomed FTX when he said Binance would sell its holdings in FTX’s FTT crypto token.