Jul 5 • 42M

SBF Plays Crypto Savior (w/Teddy Schleifer & Jeff John Roberts)

Sam Bankman-Fried has been scooping up endangered crypto companies to avoid contagion.

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Eric Newcomer
A podcast about Silicon Valley, hosted by newsletter writer Eric Newcomer and Tom Dotan, with Katie Benner as a regular special guest.
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(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Sam Bankman-Fried, “SBF,” is bailing out failing crypto companies.

The question is whether he’s trying to stymie contagion risk from further roiling the crypto world or if he’s simply shopping for deals. Or maybe it’s both.

SBF’s crypto currency exchange company FTX gave crypto lender BlockFi a $400 million credit facility and struck a deal that allows FTX to buy BlockFi for as much as $240 million.

Meanwhile, SBF’s investment arm Alameda Research provided Voyager Digital $500 million in financing in June. (Voyager Digital suspended withdrawals and deposits on Friday.)

SBF also kicked the tires on crypto lender Celsius before raising questions about the company’s finances. (Celsius has frozen accounts and hired restructuring attorneys.)

The Block reported last week:

FTX began talks with Celsius about providing financial support or making an acquisition but decided against proceeding after looking at Celsius's finances, the sources said. Celsius had a $2 billion hole in its balance sheet and FTX found the company difficult to deal with, one of the sources said.

FTX has also reportedly considered buying Robinhood after buying up a 7.6% stake.

These days it seems like the crypto industry is eager for any sign of an SBF bailout:

On this week’s Dead Cat, Tom Dotan and I called in two experts. We brought on Jeff John Roberts, the author of Kings of Crypto and the crypto editor at Fortune, and friend of the show Teddy Schleifer, who is a reporter at Puck and an SBF obsessive.

We argued about SBF’s bailout strategy, his political ambitions, and the state of crypto regulation. Roberts accused me of being a “nocoiner” and I assured him that I was contentedly losing money on crypto currencies.

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Background reading

The Notorious S.B.F.

Inside S.B.F.’s $12 Million Long Shot

A 30-Year-Old Crypto Billionaire Wants to Give His Fortune Away

Can Crypto’s Richest Man Stand the Cold?