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Sam Bankman-Fried (born 6 March 1992) is an American trader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was the founder and CEO of FTX cryptocurrency exchange and of Alameda Research, a quantitative trading firm. His wealth peaked at an estimated $26.5 billion[1]. Following the collapse of FTX under suspicious circumstances, Bankman-Fried was arrested in November 2022 and later charged with fraud, conspiracy to money-launder, and other charges. [2]

Before the FTX collapse, Bankman-Fried was a well-regarded member of the effective altruism community. He had publicly supported effective altruism and donated millions to charity, pledging to eventually donate all his wealth to longtermist causes[3]80,000 Hours and others framed Bankman-Fried as a good example of someone who successfully pursued earning to give as an altruistic strategy[4].

Following the FTX collapse, when it came to light that Bankman-Fried had likely committed fraud, the EA community expressed shock and anger at his actions, and central EA figures such as William MacAskill and Rob Wiblin disavowed him.[5][6]


Bankman-Fried was born and raised in Stanford, California. He and his younger brother Gabe were introduced to moral philosophy at a young age by his parents, both  consequentialists and professors at Stanford Law School. The brothers eventually became "take-no-prisoners utilitarians".[7]

During his third year as a physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bankman-Fried was exposed to effective altruism at a talk by William MacAskill on the ethics of career choice.[8] Back then, he was considering doing direct work for an organization focused on improving farmed animal welfare. However, he was persuaded by the argument that, for someone like him, earning to give was a career with a much higher degree of personal fit. By working in finance, he expected to donate enough money to pay for the salaries of several charity employees, each of whom roughly as impactful as he would himself be in that role. As he reasoned, "I would probably make enough money that the Humane League could hire many people and accomplish much more than it would if I went to work for them and started handing out leaflets."[9]

Upon graduating from MIT, Bankman-Fried joined Jane Street Capital, a quantitative trading firm and liquidity provider, where he worked as a trader and designed the firm's automated off-exchange trading system. He founded Alameda Research in 2017 and FTX two years later.


While working at Jane Street, Bankman-Fried gave about half of his salary to charity, primarily to animal causes. In 2020, he donated $5.2 million to a committee supporting Joe Biden, becoming one of the president's top donors. He also contributed to organizations working in global povertyclimate change, AI safety, biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.[10] [11][12]

The FTX Foundation donated 1% of all fees collected by FTX, and funded projects to mitigate climate change and promote effective altruism. Alameda Research originally required all its employees to donate at least 50% of their salaries to effective charities, although this was later revised.[13]

IIn February 2022, the FTX Foundation launched the Future Fund. The Future Fund planned to distribute $100 million in 2022, but shut down when FTX collapsed.[14][15]

Bankman-Fried is a vegan, and has been a member of Giving What We Can since August 2016[16] and a signatory to the Giving Pledge since June 2022.[17]

FTX collapse and fallout

For more detail, see FTX collapse

On November 2nd, 2022, FTX filed for bankruptcy following a revelation that Bankman-Fried’s trading firm Alameda held a substantial portion of its assets in FTT, the crypto token issued by FTX.[18] It was disclosed that FTX held less than $1 billion in liquid assets while facing liabilities of $9 billion.[19] Bankman-Fried and his former colleagues were arrested and tried on multiple charges, including fraud and conspiracy to money-launder.[20]

Following news of FTX’s collapse, the board of the Future Fund (his philanthropic fund) resigned.[15] Many EAs expressed sadness and shock at the revelations, and Bankman-Fried’s mentor William Macaskill explicitly disavowed his actions.[6]

Some effective altruists were concerned ​​that Bankman-Fried’s risky and illegal activities were encouraged or validated by his EA principles (for example, his utilitarian philosophy or his expected-value reasoning).[21] Others criticized EA leaders for failing to act on early warning signs of Bankman-Fried’s recklessness[22]. For example, many early employees of his trading firm Alameda left due to disagreements with SBF’s “risk management and business ethics”,[23] but this did not lead to the wider community distancing themselves from him.



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