Strong upvote. I think there is economic research showing that people are more productive in large companies than in small ones, and that management practices significantly affect worker productivity. I haven't looked much into this, but it suggests that small organizations could be failing to realize their potential.
5. Alameda Research had changed its name to FTX.
I basically heard the same thing in late 2021, and I am upset that I stayed silent about it even though it really alarmed me at the time.
Everywhere on the public internet, Alameda Research and FTX had painted themselves as clearly different companies. Since October 2021, they've ostensibly had disjoint sets of CEOs. By late 2021 I had watched several interviews with SBF and followed his output closely on Twitter, and saw people talking about Alameda and FTX in several crypto Discord servers. Nowhere did anyone say that Alameda had changed its name to FTX or otherwise act as if they were the same company (though everyone knew they were close).
And yet, one day in late 2021, I saw an EA who had worked at Alameda after FTX was founded casually conflating the two companies. They said something like, "Alameda, the company that is now called FTX, [rest of sentence]." They seemed to think that there was nothing noteworthy about what they'd just said, but it really shocked me. How could they know less about FTX and Alameda than me, who had never worked at either company and was just watching everything by the sidelines? If it was possible for this person to think that FTX was merely the new name for Alameda, that almost certainly implied that the FTX/Alameda leadership was putting a lot of effort into consistently lying to the public.
That brief sentence kept coming back to my mind, and it really made me uncomfortable. But yeah, I stayed completely silent, other than bringing that up a few times to my partner. I'm low-status, so I would likely not have achieved anything by speaking up, but perhaps I should have done so anyway.
Note that these numbers include illiquid (pre-exit) valuations.
2021 and early 2022 was a huge bull market — many private companies raised money in insane valuations that aren’t realistic today. Suppose they didn’t raise money again or go public in mid/late 2022. In that case, it’s likely that their valuations were last updated around the bull market's peak, in which case they're almost certainly systematically inflated.
As mentioned in that section, we clearly didn’t prioritise or eliminate this risk - we’re reflecting on how much that was a mistake, versus a good decision (to focus on other significant risks).
Hm, if you don’t mind the question — what are other significant risks you are thinking about? IMO, the FTX fraud scheme is a big deal if anything deserves to be called a big deal, from what I’ve read in the devastating legal documents about the situation, and given how SBF was framed as a poster child of EA and was a significant funder.
The only more significant risk I can think of is EA funding dangerous AI capabilities research via Anthropic, but that isn’t even unrelated to FTX (since FTX slash Alameda slash their leadership was Anthropic’s main funder). Also, my guess is that mitigating AI risk is not within the Community Health team’s scope.
TL;DR provided by ABC News:
Ellison pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX, wire fraud on customers of FTX, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders of Alameda Research and wire fraud on lenders of Alameda Research, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the court documents.
Together, the seven counts carry a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison.
Wang pleaded guilty to four counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX, wire fraud on customers of FTX, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, the court documents stated. He faces up to 50 years in prison.
Did anyone else find the title of that post ("CEA Ops is now EV Ops") a bit confusing?
When I first saw it, I thought, "oh, it seems like a team/sub-org within the CEA changed its name. Cool" and didn't think much else about it. It didn't strike me as important enough for me to click the title and read the post.
It was only months later, by reading an EA Forum comment in another post, that I noticed that CEA UK (the umbrella org) had changed its name to Effective Ventures. When I read the comment, I spent some time trying to find an official announcement, and it took me a while to realize that it was that post.
I'm confused about why that title was chosen over titles that made it clear that it was the CEA umbrella org that changed its name, rather than only a specific team within it.
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the following today:
To any person, entity or political campaign that has received stolen customer money, we ask that you work with us to return that money to the innocent victims.
I know almost nothing about law, so it's unclear to me what this means, but it seems relevant to the topic of this post (and to EA in general), so I'm commenting this here in hopes that someone with more knowledge can shed some light.
While I agree with a strict reading of this comment, I want to point out that there was another red flag around FTX/Alameda that several people in the EA leadership likely knew about since at least late 2021, which in my opinion was more severe than the matters discussed in the Time article and which convinced me back in 2021 that FTX/Alameda were putting a lot of effort into consistently lying to the public.
In particular, in October 2021, I witnessed (sentence spread across bullet points to give emphasis to each part of it):
I won't give more details publicly, in order to protect the person's privacy, but this happened in a very public place.
It wasn't just me who was aware of this. Nate Soares reported having heard the rumor that "Alameda Research had changed its name to FTX" as well, though I think he left out one important aspect of it: that this rumor was being shared by former insiders, not by e.g. random clueless crypto people.
In case you don't understand why the rumor was a big deal, I explained it in my comment in Nate Soares's post. Quoting from it:
I suspect you will not be very impressed by this, and ask me why I didn't share my concerns widely at the time. But I was just a low-status person with no public platform and only one or two friends. I shared my concerns with my partner (in fact, more than once, because I was so puzzled by that comment) but not with people I'm not close to. [ETA: in retrospect, I think a more correct explanation would be to say that I probably stayed silent because I guessed I'd lose status if I'd spoken up. 🙁]
I'm not sure why this wasn't taken seriously by the EA leadership. This seems to be a pretty clear example of the FTX/Alameda leadership blatantly lying to the public about their internal workings and prominent EAs knowing about that.