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Research & Analysis

WATCH: Sam Bankman-Fried Pressed On Early Alameda Collaborators In 2021 Interview

We now know that disgraced “crypto billionaire” Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) did not found “his” first company, Alameda Research, alone – a fact that has been obscured and flat out lied about for years as his backers, sympathetic media outlets, and SBF himself as they worked to build his contrived “self-made altruistic genius” mythology.

Alameda, and “his” big “arb trade” there, was his original “claim to fame,” as well as the alleged source of his initial wealth, which “he” then parlayed into the creation of shady crypto exchange FTX.

For more information on this backstory, please see the Looking Past The Frontman series:

With this knowledge and the benefit of hindsight, it becomes easier to see how certain key details about Alameda’s origins were deliberately left murky in SBF’s telling. And, more often than not, interviewers were too wide-eyed about his “amazing success story” to ask.

It turns out that at least one interview was a bit of an exception, though.

Published in April of 2021, about a year and a half before FTX and Alameda imploded, the interview was conducted by Blockworks co-founder Jason Yanowitz.

During one segment, SBF tells his usual tale about early Alameda days; but unlike many other interviewers, Yanowitz actually pressed him a bit on who he founded and built the company with.

Notably, SBF doesn’t provide a single name, including that of Tara Mac Aulay, who was appointed CEO of the Centre for Effective Altruism in late 2017, and who we now know co-founded Alameda with him around the same time.

Also of note is the fact that the video appears to be cut (edited) shortly after SBF begins his rather evasive answer. So, there is a missing piece of the interview that may have been even more revealing.

Here’s a transcript:

YANOWITZ: So– wait wait wait, so– but you flew– so you’re literally in Japan this whole time?

BANKMAN-FRIED: So, I– we had different teams in both places. So we had a team of people who went to– spent like three hours a day in a US bank. And we had [a] different team of people that spent like three hours a day in a Japanese bank.

YANOWITZ: And wait wait wait, back up, Sam. Who’s the “WE”? Are these like Jane Street buddies? Are these college friends? Like…?

BANKMAN-FRIED: This is post-Jane Street. So this is when I started up Alameda. And this was like, Alameda’s first really big trade. We’re trying to spin this up–

YANOWITZ: But who’d you start Alameda with? Like who are these people??

BANKMAN-FRIED: E– random selection. I mean it was like, people I knew from, from, I mean, high school, from college, from effective altruism, from, I don’t know, like a friend of theirs. Like, it sort of, like, just grew, sort of out, from like, ya know, people who knew people who are– we had like 50 interns coming in and out over the first four months. [And I mean] it was just like, hordes of people–

(PART OF THE VIDEO IS EDITED OUT HERE)

BANKMAN-FRIED: And we have like th–the team in the United States. So, you get the money off the Japanese exchange. And then, the– you had to use the website to turn it into dollars. But it would only do 100,000 US dollars at once. And it was like a minute long prompt you had to click through…

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