The Tale of SBF...a "loser"?

Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by Seattle, Jan 6, 2023.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I never liked the use of the word "loser" when referring to a person, for similar reasons that I don't like the use of the word "liar" or "hate" when referring to someone. It's just kind of crass, unnecessary and there are usually better ways of expressing yourself.

    Calling someone a "loser" also has the connotation of not being a "winner" as if that is of supreme importance. However, I think I have found someone for which I think it applies...Sam Bankman-Fried CEO of FTX (crypto exchange).

    He had a privileged life, private schools, went to MIT, his parents are both lawyers and professors at Stanford. After MIT he got a job at a well known trading firm, Jane Street Capital.

    After a few years he left Jane Street and started Alameda Research, a crypto trading firm. He was probably about 27 at this point. He noticed that, at the time, Bitcoin was trading at a 30% premium in Korea and used an arbitrage strategy to buy Bitcoin in Korea and sell it in the rest of the world and pocket the large difference.

    At this point he was young, rich, and everything he had done up to that point was legal. Everything he has done since then is why I think the word "loser" does apply in his particular case and I think his "reward" will be to spend the rest of his life in prison (to be determined).

    Through Alameda he got large institutional investors and started making risky, leveraged trades (after the Korean Bitcoin arbitrage play no longer was available) and began to lose money. The automated trading algorithm they developed wasn't working and they were losing a lot of money.

    When institutional investors wanted to withdraw their money, there wasn't enough money but by this point SBF had started FTX, a crypto exchange. Customers who deposited funds at FTX were just there to buy and sell and some just left their crypto for storage on the exchange as well. Funds weren't to be used for anything else.

    SBF started using those funds for Alameda to pay back institutional investors who wanted to withdraw funds when Alameda didn't actually have enough funds. Therefore no red flags were waived and he continued to get more and more investors and everyone was "happy".

    Even before this point he was being shady. Many banks don't let crypto companies set up accounts and don't let people move funds to and from crypto exchanges so he advised FTX customers to send funds for their FTX account to a bank he had set up and to a company he had set up that had a web page portraying it as a company that sold consumer electronic gadgets.

    Therefore when he now acts like he didn't know what was going on, that's not true. Eventually he had his girlfriend listed as the CEO of Alameda but she and another executive/co-owner just signed a plea deal with the Feds. They were charged with crimes that had penalties adding up to 110 years in prison. In exchange for full cooperation they were basically given immunity from all of those charges.

    Needless to say, SBF is now screwed. He just entered a plea of not guilty and the trial is set for October. He is out on bail, with an ankle bracelet confined to his parents $4 million dollar home near the Stanford campus in California.

    He had been giving "apology" interviews all over the media, wearing shorts, sandals, with his long, curly mop of hair, looking like a complete slob. His "defense" is that he didn't intend to defraud anyone and was just bad at record keeping and keeping track of all the numbers. They were using QuickBooks to run the multi-billion dollar company!

    I just watched the 4 part series on Netflix the other night about Bernie Madoff and his financial scam. There were many similarities.

    I think SBF has done nothing (effectively) to help himself and everything to make matters worse including this pathetic "I didn't know" defense. Now that the others will testify to the contrary he is screwed. The Fed wins over 90% of their cases, most don't go to trial and there is no "parole" in the Federal system, I'm pretty sure that he will effectively be in prison for the rest of his life. Maybe he will only get 30 years and be able to get out when he is 60 but Madoff got 150 years and died in prison (although he was much older).

    I think "loser" in the truest sense of the word applies to Sam Bankman-Fried, given his advantaged life, rich, no reason to do what he did and now the rest of his life will be nothing like his former life and there was little reason for it to go this way.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2023
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  3. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I haven't been following this story all that closely, but from what you've posted here, and what I've learned when this story first came to light...he sounds narcissistic, actually. Maybe borderline sociopathic?

    According to Urban Dictionary, the term ''loser'' is defined as someone who doesn't know what they have, and "f*cks" it up. I don't think it's commonly used that way - but for the sake of this thread, ''loser'' seems to fit.

    I don't care for that word, either.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2023
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I agree with the sociopath and narcissist labels as well.

    His best defense, before all the facts came out, was basically, I was bad at record keeping and didn't pay enough attention to how large the losses were and I'm really sorry and if given enough time I could probably have made enough to pay everyone back.

    He just needed to "raise" more money. He may be delusional as well or just able to compartmentalize facts that he doesn't like.

    Initially you would think that when he decided to comingle customer funds to put out one fire he would learn his lesson, pay that account back and take less risks but he just kept doing it while spending millions on expensive housing, donating to politicians, paying for naming rights on arenas and sports teams.

    It was nuts. Then again Bernie Madoff pulled this kind of thing off for over 30 years. Madoff wasn't even investing money. It was strictly a Ponzi scheme. He was offering better returns than anyone on Wall Street and no one could figure out how he could do it.

    One guy, before Madoff got caught, figured out that it was mathematically impossible, reported it to the SEC over many years and still nothing was done. Madoff was just given people 15% of their own money back each year as "interest".

    In the case of FTX, no institutional investors did any due diligence. Just showing up at the headquarters and seeing a bunch of kids in shorts with no experience running a billion dollar business should have set off red flags.

    Given the amount of money he was spending on real estate, political donations, it was all more than a 3 year old company could conceivably afford or have time to earn.

    When you are giving money to "influencers" no one has any incentive to question things I guess. When your company name is showing up on sports arenas you must be legit.

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    His scam was also that he was trying to earn a lot of money so that he could give it all away to charity.
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