Now that it’s become blindingly clear FTX crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) — who serves, at this point, as a paragon of social justice, Gen Z business practices — really couldn’t care less about doing good in the world (he admits just that in this Vox piece that should be read by everyone trying to understand how we got here), we can effectively defenestrate the concept of “effective altruism” less than a year after Politico wonderingly wrote of Bankman-Fried’s funding the “niche philosophy that transformed the philanthropy world.”
If anything SBF says can be trusted as true, the kid literally thought the philosophy a joke, according to Vox.
— Zeeshan Aleem (@ZeeshanAleem) November 16, 2022
Politico, back in May, described “effective altruism” as a philosophy “which advocates using quantitative analyses and evidence-based reasoning to maximize social good and mitigate long-term threats to humanity.”
How that gobbledygook of a definition ultimately played out, we now know, is millions donated to Democrats, a possible Ukraine connection, and crypto investors losing their shirts.
Federal investigations are likely on the way, and the timing is eyebrow-raising for wonky political pundits who saw Mark Zuckerberg’s gift to the 2020 election helping to push the carcass of Joe Biden across the finish line. It would appear Bankman-Fried was this cycle’s nerdy tech patron bountiful.
Overall, in 2021 and 2022, Bankman-Fried donated approximately $38 million to various candidates and PACs, mainly giving his cash to Democratic candidates and left-wing groups, according to Federal Election Commission filings (FEC). The majority of his political givings, though, went to the Protect Our Future PAC, a group founded in January that is dedicated to boosting candidates committed to preventing future pandemics.
“Our country’s leaders failed to prepare for a pandemic experts warned for years was possible, and the result was more than a million preventable American deaths, trillions of dollars in economic damage, school closures, loss of freedoms, and untold suffering,” the PAC states on its website.
“Our candidates are committed to safeguarding our nation from future global pandemics, so this is the last time in our lifetime, and our children’s lifetimes, that we will face the devastation that has gripped communities across the U.S. since 2020,” it continued.
But what recourse do those who lost their investments have as this little geeky Greek tragedy plays out?
In a remarkable thread, former Chief Technology Officer of Coinbase Balaji Srinivasan postulates that Bankman-Fried is still running around the Bahamas like a naughty child because he’s being protected. And that protection might be because financial regulations and laws allow for crypto investors to “clawback” the money stolen from them from — get this — the politicians, nonprofits, and journalism outlets (like ProPublica) that Bankman-Fried funded.
Here are just a few of Balaji’s tweets. Read the entire thread.
Ask a lawyer. If FTX stole your money, you may be able to sell your bankruptcy claim.
An investor might buy claims for X cents on the dollar, taking on the risk of getting Y>X at a future date.
— Balaji (@balajis) November 16, 2022
The fundamental question is: when did SBF start stealing from customers, and how much did he steal?
This can only be answered by forensic accounting.
The headline amount given to Democrat politicians of $37M+ understates it. FTX Foundation alone was $190M.
How much was stolen? pic.twitter.com/ck6zaoYAHI
— Balaji (@balajis) November 16, 2022
The stage is set for an absolutely insane zero-sum match.
On one side, one million crypto investors robbed of ten billion dollars by SBF.
On the other side, a network of dark money Democrats who will fight to keep as much of those stolen funds as possible.
The fur will fly.
— Balaji (@balajis) November 15, 2022
Hoo boy, this could get ugly if the brand spanking new Republican House of Representatives decides to start seriously looking into the dealings of Bankman-Fried. The request he appear before Congress has already happened.
In any event, at this point, everything is speculation because the kid is still free, rumored to be filling his time online gaming and chatting with reporters trying to explain himself. The political side of his crypto scam should become clear as the days go on (this, by the way, is his mother). But while you’re waiting, I leave you with this golden quote from the AP in the immediate aftermath of FTX’s collapse. It, sadly, explains better than anything else how we got here. Consider, as the saying goes, that we are led by idiots.
Sequoia Capital, which over the decades invested in Apple, Cisco, Google, Airbnb and YouTube, described their meeting with Bankman-Fried as likely “talking to the world’s first trillionaire.” Several of Sequoia’s partners became enthusiastic about Bankman-Fried following a Zoom meeting in 2021. After several more meetings, Sequoia decided to invest in the company.
“I don’t know how I know, I just do. SBF is a winner,” wrote Adam Fisher, a business journalist who wrote a profile of Bankman-Fried for the firm, referring to Bankman-Fried by his popular online moniker. The article, published in late September, was removed from Sequoia’s website.