Note (10 November 2022): It was announced this week that FTX.com, Sam Bankman-Fried’s exchange, is facing a severe financial crisis. The situation is still unfolding, so this page will probably be incorrect for the near future, as we won’t be able to update it in time. The Forum team will update this page when there is more clarity on what has happened. The team is concerned for FTX’s individual depositors, who are facing the possibility of severe hardship, as well as about the situation as a whole.

Sam Bankman-Fried (born 6 March 1992) is an American trader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was the founder and CEO of FTX, a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange valued at $32 billion,[1] and of Alameda Research, a quantitative trading firm. 

Background

Bankman-Fried was born and raised in Stanford, California. He and his younger brother Gabe were introduced to moral philosophy at a young age by his parents, both  consequentialists and professors at Stanford Law School. The brothers eventually became "take-no-prisoners utilitarians".[4]

As a high school student, Bankman-Fried attended Canada/USA Mathcamp, a summer program for mathematically talented youth. There he met his future business partners Sam Trabucco (co-CEO of Alameda)[5] and Gary Wang (co-founder and CTO of FTX).[6]

During his third year as a physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bankman-Fried was exposed to effective altruism at a talk by William MacAskill on the ethics of career choice.[7] Back then, he was considering doing direct work for an organization focused on improving farmed animal welfare. However, he was persuaded by the argument that, for someone like him, earning to give was a career with a much higher degree of personal fit. By working in finance, he expected to donate enough money to pay for the salaries of several charity employees, each of whom roughly as impactful as he would himself be in that role. As he reasoned, "I would probably make enough money that the Humane League could hire many people and accomplish much more than it would if I went to work for them and started handing out leaflets."[8]

Upon graduating from MIT, Bankman-Fried joined Jane Street Capital, a quantitative trading firm and liquidity provider, where he worked as a trader and designed the firm's automated off-exchange trading system. After serving briefly as director of development at the Centre for Effective Altruism, he founded Alameda Research in 2017 and FTX two years later.

Philanthropic work

Bankman-Fried's fortune has been described as "the product of a long-nurtured utilitarian worldview",[9] and Bankman-Fried himself has been nicknamed "the Bentham of crypto".[10]

While working at Jane Street, Bankman-Fried gave about half of his salary to charity, primarily to animal causes.[11] In 2020, he donated $5.2 million to a committee supporting Joseph Biden, becoming one of the president's top donors.[9] More recently, he has contributed to organizations working in global povertyclimate change, AI safety, biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.[12] As of February 2022, Bankman-Fried has given away between $50 and 100 million,[13] and has stated that he intends to donate the vast majority of his fortune to longtermist causes eventually.[13][14][15][11]

The FTX Foundation donates 1% of all fees collected by FTX, and has funded projects to mitigate climate change and promote effective altruism. Alameda Research originally required all its employees to donate at least 50% of their salaries to effective charities, although the policy has since been revised to help attract more talent.[5]

In February 2022, the FTX Foundation launched the Future Fund, a philanthropic fund that makes grants and investments to ambitious projects focused on improving humanity's long-term prospects. The Fund plans to distribute at least $100 million, and potentially up to $1 billion, by the end of 2022.[16]

Bankman-Fried is a vegan, and has been a member of Giving What We Can since August 2016[17] and a signatory to the Giving Pledge since June 2022.[18][19]

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