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Where did the eight billion dollars go?
The story of Sam Bankman-Fried and the missing money
Happy Friday. We have a new episode for you.
In this newsletter, I will also tell you about some stories we reported that you might not know about, talk about the concept of piñata stories, and share some videos and articles from the episode. Also, some news about our board meeting (we’ve changed the date to October 13.)
This week’s episode
This week, the story of former crypto wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried. The government alleges he stole over eight billion dollars from the customers of the crypto exchange he started, FTX.
Our question .. how do you blow eight billion dollars? Investigative financial reporter Zeke Faux helps us answer our question.Be sure to check out Zeke's book, Number Go Up: Inside Crypto's Wild Rise and Staggering Fall.
As always, if you’d like to support the show financially, you can do so by pressing this button. If you can figure out if it’s purple or pink, that would also help me. Sound off in the comments, please.
Did you know that we made an entire mini-series about cryptocurrency last year?
It’s true. It was called Crypto Island.
If you missed Crypto Island, here are some stories I thought stood out:
And the finale, what is Bitcoin’s effect on the climate? And is it possible to talk Bitcoiners into a greener crypto? In that story, I happened to record the last interview with Coolio before his death, and then travelled to Greenland. One of the strangest reporting experiences of my life.
Here’s an extremely juicy behind-the-music-but-podcasts anecdote from that production. We were actually working on that finale episode around the time the Sam Bankman-Fried story broke.
It’s a funny thing to be a reporter but also a sometimes recovering internet addict, because sometimes you are glued to a story, but it’s not the story you’re even supposed to be glued on.
During the final edits of our Greenland story, I would interrupt the editor, Sruthi, to say things like: “Wow…I just got a notification, and it looks like Sam Bankman-Fried is just popping into a New York Times live video feed, even though everyone thinks he’s about to be arrested…” and she would say things to me like, “Hey, we need to finish this story, can you stop checking Twitter so we can fix the section about 19th century Arctic explorers?”
Anyway, I find Sam Bankman-Fried very fascinating. His story is one of those true stories that I am fond of calling piñatas, meaning — several people take a swing at telling the story in a multimedia IP rush.
Previous piñatas have included Elizabeth Holmes (a documentary, a TV series, infinite podcasts) as well as the Fyre Festival, although with a mere two documentaries, it was a smaller piñata.
Generally speaking, when there’s a piñata story, rather than waiting for the definitive take, I will just consume them all. I know we only get to be alive once and time is finite. But I tell stories for a living, and I consume stories for fun, so seeing a bunch of people do the same homework assignment with different materials is perversely enjoyable for me.
For what it’s worth, I’ve really liked all the piñata swings on Sam Bankman-Fried. It’s a complicated story, so there’s both a lot to report and a lot to take away from it, and I like seeing the various perspectives. I’ll list some links at the bottom of this newsletter.
This week we’ve tried to make a piece that walks the line between exhaustive and exhausting, but, please tell us in the comments whether we landed in the right place.
Zoom Board Meeting Date Change
It’s going to be Friday, October 13th, at Noon, eastern time. We changed it because I am absent-minded and forgot to mention it in the show this week, and I want to give people a heads up who are not assiduous newsletter readers. Looking forward to seeing you all, and if you’re not a paid subscriber, it’s not too late to join. (This is an event only for paid subscribers).
Thanks everybody, and we’ll see you again next week.