16 Nov 2022 By theguardian
FTX was founded in 2019 by Sam Bankman-Fried, the child of two Stanford academics. He had worked at quantitative trading firm Jane Street Teuntil 2017, when he struck out on his own with his Alameda Research crypto hedge fund. With Alameda as its market maker, FTX rapidly became one of the most popular crypto exchanges. Traders loved its complex futures and options products. A more restricted branch for US customers, FTX US, opened in 2020.
When bitcoin and crypto-assets hit the headlines in 2021, Bankman-Fried positioned himself as a billionaire public intellectual. Bankman-Fried would only be photographed in shorts, a T-shirt or hoodie, and untied shoes. He marketed himself to venture capitalists as a genius eccentric, beyond their comprehension. How did this mere boy of 29 hit the heights so quickly? What was his secret?
The celebrity billionaire is a perennial favorite in the US. The archetype is Jobs: eccentric, acerbic, prickly, and spent 10 years solidly delivering through the late 1990s and into the 2000s. Musk put himself forward similarly, promoting electric cars and energy transition.