Once upon a time, there were two titans of the crypto industry: Sam Bankman-Fried, the child of Stanford professors and founder of FTX, and Changpeng Zhao, the nomadic founder of Binance. The pair were the faces of crypto, generating billion-dollar fortunes comparable to the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates. That is, until their rivalry threatened to burn the entire industry to the ground.
For years, the pair had waged a cold war as Sam fought to unseat Zhao, or CZ, and dominate the industry. Then, last year, CZ fired a warning shot: one that would send FTX into a downward spiral, and reveal what prosecutors describe as a staggering $8bn fraud at the heart of Sam’s empire. Now, as Sam potentially faces decades in prison, journalist Tom Wright has been investigating the hidden origins of his feud with CZ – starting with a key witness: CZ himself.
Bonus #2: CZ Pleads Guilty - The End of the Road for the Crypto Kingpins?
As another kingpin falls, what’s next for crypto?
At the start of November, Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted. After weeks of complex testimony, the jury took just four hours to find him guilty of defrauding customers and investors out of billions of dollars. Things looked like they couldn’t get anymore dramatic–- until they did. Just a few weeks later, with Sam awaiting sentencing, a second kingpin was also toppled. In a sweeping settlement with the Department of Justice, Changpeng Zhao, or CZ, pled guilty to failing to prevent money laundering and stepped down as CEO of Binance. In this episode, host Tom Wright delves into the downfall of two of the biggest names in crypto. With help from crypto investigator James Block, entrepreneur Margaux Avedisian, and Wall Street Journal reporter Angus Berwick, Tom unravels the details of CZ’s plea deal with regulators and the fate of Binance, and asks: what’s next for crypto?
Bonus #1: Courtroom Bombshells - An Update from Sam Bankman-Fried’s Trial
“He is somebody who likes double or nothing coin flips – and this is basically his last coin flip.”
Since kicking off on October 3, the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried has generated headlines around the world. It’s produced hours of witness testimony and endless reams of evidence – but what do you really need to know? In this bonus episode, managing producer Megan Dean talks to reporter Tracy Wang about the biggest bombshells to hit the courtroom during the prosecution, including the “jaw-dropping” testimony of former Alameda Research CEO, Caroline Ellison. Plus, with Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers likely to launch his defense in the coming days, we hear from federal criminal defense attorney Ken White on their potential strategy – and what could happen if Sam takes the witness stand.
Episode 6: Kill Shot
“You're just a dumb lawyer. If you were smart, you'd be a Bitcoin billionaire.”
Episode 5: The Island Cowboy
In the Bahamas, the life of FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried is about to take a surreal turn.
Episode 4: Coming to America
Big influence comes with a cost. So where exactly is Sam getting all this cash?
Episode 3: The Wild East
Hong Kong, the perfect launch pad to make it big in crypto.
Loved the podcast!
Interesting but seems conflicted
This is a very interesting podcast with what appears to be good reporting. However, there is one line in one of the episodes regarding the narrator and his connection to CZ (the Binance Founder). The individual says, without much clarification, that he speaks regularly to this day to CZ. This alone is enough to call into question some of the reporting about Sam Bankman-Fried, in comparison to coverage of Binance and CZ. There seems to be more than a bit of armchair, psychology, being employed, when discussing SBF and his veganism polyamorous, and other matters that seem intended more as a smear campaign than as journalism. There is no mention of the problems with finance, or the fact that it like FTX is also engaged in what may in the end also amount to a sophisticated Ponzi Scheme.
From the reporting to the writing, the narration, and even the background music, this is storytelling at its best—and what a story. Kudos!