Billionaire Investor Bill Ackman Found SBF ‘Believable’ During DealBook Summit Interview

On Saturday (3 December 2022), former crypto skeptic Bill Ackman, the Founder and CEO of hedge fund management firm Pershing Square Capital Management, shared his thoughts on Sam Bankerman-Fried (aka “SBF”), the disgraced co-founder and former CEO of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX.

As you may remember, on Wednesday (30 November 2022), the New York Times held its annual DealBook Summit in New York City, an an event which was hosted by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Times columnist and DealBook founder and editor at large.

Of course, the interviewee that most people were most excited about hearing from was Sam Bankerman-Fried (aka “SBF”), the disgraced co-founder and former CEO of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX.

Based on the full transcript of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s interview with SBF published by CoinDesk earlier today, SBF said:

Clearly, I made a lot of mistakes or things I would give anything to be able to do over again. I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone… I didn’t knowingly commingle funds. And again, one piece of this you have the margin trading you have you know, customers borrowing from each other, Alameda is one of those. I was frankly surprised by how big Alameda’s position was, which points to another failure of oversight on my part. And a failure to appoint someone to be chiefly in charge of that. But I wasn’t trying to commingle funds…

The time that I really knew there was a problem was Nov. 6. Nov. 6 was the date that the tweet about FTT came out. By late on Nov. 6, we were putting together all of the data, putting together all the information that obviously should have been put together way earlier, that obviously should have been part of the dashboards I was always looking at…

We were spending an enormous amount of our energy on compliance. We’re spending an enormous amount of energy on regulation on licensure. We’re getting licensed in dozens of jurisdictions…

Everything I have, I’m disclosing and you know, I’m down to…I have one working credit card left. I think it might be $100,000 or something like that in that bank account. And, I mean, everything that I had, even all the loans I had were, you know, those are all things I was reinvesting in the businesses…I put everything I had into FTX.

Shortly after this interview, Ackman shocked many people, especially those in the crypto community, when he sent out the following tweet:

One of those that criticized Ackman was crypto trader, analyst, investor, and consultant Luke Martin, who pointed out that Ackman had previously deleted a tweet he had made about SBF on 10 November 2022:

Anyway, on 3 December 2022, Ackman took to Twitter to defend his earlier comments about SBF:

He went on to say:

The @FTX_Official fiasco is, at a minimum, the most egregious, large-scale case of business gross negligence that I have observed in my career, and that conclusion is reinforced by SBF’s recent public statements… If indeed he is telling the truth, it may make it more likely that he has civil rather than criminal liability.

I understand why the victims here want him to suffer the most severe consequences including jail time. I would likely feel the same if I too was a victim… If I am right, I advance the discussion. If I am wrong, I learn. That seems to be an attractive risk-reward in a world with free speech.

According to a report by The Daily Hodl,

On 20 November 2022, Ackman wrote:

… I was initially a crypto skeptic, but after studying some of the more interesting crypto projects, I have come to believe that crypto can enable the formation of useful businesses and technologies that heretofore could not be created. The ability to issue a token to incentivize participants in a venture is a powerful lever in accessing a global workforce to advance a project…

The problem with crypto is that unethical promoters can create tokens simply to facilitate pump and dump schemes… Despite crypto’s ability to facilitate fraud, with the benefit of sensible regulation and oversight, crypto technology’s potential for beneficent societal impact may eventually compare with the impact of the telephone and internet on the economy and society…

Initially, I assumed that there is no intrinsic value to any of the tokens and therefore they simply represent a modern-day version of tulip mania without the aesthetic benefits. But after examining a number of interesting crypto projects, I began to understand how a token could build intrinsic value over time…

… I think crypto is here to stay and with proper oversight and regulation, it has the potential to greatly benefit society and grow the global economy. All legitimate participants in the crypto ecosystem… should therefore be highly incentivized to expose and eliminate fraudulent actors as they greatly increase the risk of regulatory intervention that will set back the positive potential impact of crypto for generations. As always I welcome your feedback.

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