It’s hard to believe we are only halfway into 2021. When we reflect on what we’ve achieved operationally, who we’ve onboarded, all the incredible products we have pushed out, and how far the FTX name has spread—the feeling is at once inspiring, surreal, and humbling.
Looking towards the remaining half of this turbulent year, we see opportunities for further expanding our global product line, our US operations, our international presence, and our charitable efforts. The industry is always changing, so copying the past won’t lead to sustained growth and innovation. Nevertheless, careful consideration on what we’ve done right this year allows us to identify the next steps towards becoming the best crypto company and brand in the world.
The numbers don’t lie. In these six months, we achieved figures that reflect non-stop explosive growth, aggressive and smart expansion, proven resiliency, and successfully meeting our users’ needs.
Exchange Volumes: In just this half year alone, we’ve witnessed enormous growth in volume with over \$1,875,000,000,000 in total volume and an average daily volume (ADV) of \$10,965,000,000 (934% increase since January). Our all time high (ATH) was \$53,068,090,693—the result of an extraordinarily active half-year. Compare these figures with last year’s total volume of over \$385,000,000,000, ADV of \$1,060,000,000, and a single-day ATH of >\$7,000,000,000.
Spot margin lending has also seen massive increases: the total notional value of outstanding loans (in a 24 hour period) exceeded \$2,500,000,000 in May! The implied rate at which users are putting their idle assets to use with us is substantial and flattering, as we established spot margin lending and borrowing only last November.
Our US operations have experienced tremendous growth and made positive headway. FTX.us continues to have the deepest liquidity of all US competitors, having gone from <\$1M/day in mid-2020 to a peak of nearly \$1bn/day.
Users: It’s official: FTX has received >1 million user sign-ups within the last 6 months. Talk about explosive growth and adoption: that’s a 397% increase since January and more than 5,600% since the beginning of 2020. And it’s safe to say that users keep coming back for more: since January 1st, we’ve recorded more than 10 million 1-day active users. We are elated to have reached these milestones, but in no way are we satisfied with stopping here.
Supported markets: These six months have been especially prolific in terms of product development (although such a claim might sound even clichéd coming from us). Throughout all manners of market shakeups and reversals, we observed the community’s sentiments, visualized a solution, and delivered at our trademark agility—sometimes pushing out new instruments within hours!
We ended 2020 with 1,100 listed markets and added support for 71 assets to be used as collateral. In January of this year alone, we listed 70 new markets and overall added 100+ listed markets and support for 125 assets as collateral. Needless to say, we continue to expand our offerings to meet your trading needs.
Now is also a good time to review our performance beyond just the last six months. As The Block observed, FTX has been the only major exchange (outside of Binance) which gained market share across every major product category year-to-date.
Since our founding, we dedicated ourselves to creating the best experience for traders using our own perspective as traders. One sign that we’re doing the right thing is the creation and usage of new instruments with new underlyings to meet the growing needs of our users. We’ve graphed out the percentage of FTX’s volume over time by product. A healthy diversification trend means we’re identifying and fulfilling the right user demands. We also offer a similar graph for FTX.us.
Exchange capacity: We reduced latency by ~50% from the end of last year while simultaneously increasing throughput. During a record day in mid-April, when BTC crashed to \$50K, resulting in \$30B in volume that day, FTX had 0 downtime and even set its new record low for latency thanks to improvements we made behind the scenes.
Valuation: If valuation tells a story, then ours might be an epic. Our fundraising in February of 2020 valued FTX at \$1B, representing an incredible milestone and making FTX the quickest company to reach unicorn status in history. Followers learned this July that FTX completed a Series B fundraising round that values our exchange at \$18B. The round raised \$900 million. Participants included SoftBank Group, Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, Paradigm, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Coinbase Ventures, Hudson River Trading, Thoma Bravo, Third Point, the Paul Tudor Jones family, Alan Howard, and many others. We thank you all for your support and we look forward to keeping everyone updated on our achievements and progress financially and operationally.
Team: We continue to grow our team along every major business in order to meet the demands of our expanding user base, new product lines, and ever increasing volumes. In the past six months, we welcomed 38 new employees globally to bring our total headcount to 110. It’s refreshing and exciting to see new faces every week. We have come a long way from a staff of 15 in 2019 and then 72 in 2020. In the meanwhile, FTX.us has grown from just 2 people in May of 2020 to 15 now.
Our aggressive scaling is not a mere focus on numbers: we are always looking for self-driven and dedicated team players who bring their A-game and a can-do attitude, no matter the odds. If you believe you fit the bill, we are always happy to receive your application for FTX and FTX.us.
In these past six months, we have also made some strategic hires that caught the headlines for all the right reasons.
Brett Harrison joined in May as FTX.us’s President to lead our US-regulated exchange. Brett previously held multiple senior technology leadership roles at Citadel Securities, first as the firm’s Head of ETF Technology and subsequently as Head of Semi-Systematic Technology, encompassing the firm’s Options, ETF, OTC, and ADR groups. Close followers of the FTX lore know that Sam and Brett first met at Jane Street before their paths reconverged years later. We are delighted to have Brett steering the helm for our US exchange operations.
We are also excited to have onboard with us Jonathan Cheesman, our new Head of OTC and Institutional Client sales. Prior to FTX, Jonathan was a senior FX sales executive at HSBC and held FX sales roles at Goldman Sachs and Barclays for 12 years. Jonathan looks forward to being “a bridge between traditional finance and crypto natives” (The Block) and supporting our initiative to engage and serve traditional financial institutions interested in crypto. The world can no longer ignore the feverish adoption of crypto, and having Jonathan with us is perfect timing.
We could dedicate an article solely to the incredible talent we now have on board. For now, a list of honorable mentions will do. We’re excited to have diverse and innovative staff who will bring FTX to new heights. Graham Williams, an early employee at Slack and Asana, will be beefing up our API support for our institutional accounts. Dan Chapsky, previously at Facebook, recently joined as our new Head of Data Science in FTX.us. Alfarida Mohammed, previously in asset management compliance at UBS, is now our Senior Vice President of US Compliance at FTX.us. Stephanie Lennox, previously a Recruitment Lead at 1Password, is our new Head of Recruitment at FTX.us. Adam Jacobs, former co-founder of Spend.com, is our new Head of Product for FTX Pay.
To prepare for our massive scaling across all our offices and platforms, we increased our headcount for KYC, compliance, and customer support to ensure frictionless user adoption and maintain our high standards for customer satisfaction.
New Features & Products
We take pride in our ability to execute and rapidly roll out new products, exchange features, and improvements to the FTX trading experience. This ethos permeates all aspects of our operations, from customer service to product development to platform security. Let’s review what our teams have accomplished in just the last six months.
Among our 100+ new markets listed this year, some have caught special attention due to their timeliness and cultural relevance. Almost immediately after Robinhood’s meme-stock troubles (and us receiving “possibly the most ever requested listing”), our teams launched spot and quarterly futures for GME, AMC, and BB to allow investors to continue expressing their memetic views 24/7/365 (i.e. with no trading halts). This was towards the end of 2019; in a similar, and perhaps more ‘meta’ spirit, we also listed our Wall Street Bets quarterly index futures (WSB) this January for those wishing to trade assets popular to the famous Reddit group.
We also launched our tokenized stocks and quarterly futures for some of the most popular traditional ETFs: SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), iShares Silver Trust (SLV), the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners and Junior Gold Miners ETFs (GDX and GDXJ), and United States Oil Fund (USO). Taking stock of FTX’s real (tradfi) underlying-based instruments, our offerings now include tokenized equities, pre-IPO contracts, and even gold, silver, oil, and lumber products. Bridging the worlds of crypto and traditional finance indeed.
During the sudden commodities boom in April-May, we also received countless requests for lumber futures in the midst of the pandemic-induced shortage. 10 hours of conceptualization and 2 hours of programming later, we delivered our cash-settled lumber contract (expiring to the Lumber and Wood Products category of the Producer Price Index).
We also recently partnered with VanEck’s MVIS (MV Index Solutions) to launch two first-of-their-kind perpetual futures on FTX: the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index and MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 25 Index—modified market cap-weighted indices tracking the performance of the 10 and 25 largest and most liquid digital assets; another small step towards bridging the worlds of crypto and traditional finance, as Sam Bankman-Fried puts it.
And for those who want to stay within the the Solana and Serum ecosystems, we launched in January our Serum Ecosystem Token (SECO) and Holy Trinity Token (HOLY) spot and perp for those who need a basket of FIDA, LQID, SRM, and SOL or of SRM, SOL, and FTT respectively.
New Exchange Features
On and Off Ramps: Products are half the story. A seamless and superior user experience, however, is the founding story and lifeblood of FTX. Fiat on and off-ramps, for example, are subtle but key features to get right. Hence, we always emphasize what makes our platform special, including our instant processing, low deposit requirements, and 24/7 customer support.
We extended our partnership with Circle to introduce card-based funding for FTX and Blockfolio accounts in nearly 200 countries. Users can now deposit fiat currency using a credit or debit card with instant settlement in USDC, making FTX and Blockfolio possibly the most comprehensive fiat-to-crypto platform experiences. We’ve got global travellers in mind too, with fiat transfers between FTX and Revolut now running too.
FTX App: We’re also proud to present our new and improved FTX Pro mobile experience to ensure that you can trade anywhere and anytime. We added advanced charting, revamped the homepage, and deployed tons of other design and feature improvements. Cross-platform functionality is extremely critical for our mission.
Advanced Trading view: FTX has always been an exchange built by traders, for traders. In this spirit, we launched our new Advanced Trading page, a fully customizable trading page for those in need of heavy-duty tooling. Beloved features include simultaneous support for multiple markets, custom window and tab views, and of course, saveable layouts.
We recognize that a substantial amount of our users are sophisticated traders in need of advanced tooling, so we’re always listening. Whether it’s our Advanced Trading page, our Quant Zone rules program, or even the inclusion of advanced order types, we are always refining and expanding the powers at your fingertips.
This almost goes without saying, but NFTs have taken the world by storm. This trend is an important one for artists, collectors, and hobbyists, no matter what they’re trading. We launched our new NFT marketplace on our FTX and FTX.us websites in June and immediately kicked off a number of auctions. We’re starting with NFTs exchangeable for some hot items: FTX Swag packs, pastiche and hipster fashion pieces, including socks and hoodies, and stylized figurines. You can bid for tokens redeemable for special events, like lunch with the legend Sam Bankman-Fried himself or a game of bughouse chess against us, the FTX team. The tokens are minted on SPL and ERC-20. Our partners too may even be launching some NFTs on our platform, so be sure to check back for the batch of hot items!
Blurring the boundary between crypto and tradfi is a major theme this year. We launched FTX Pay in April to allow merchants to accept instant payments from users in crypto or fiat on their website, app, or store through the FTX platform. We’ve designed FTX Pay to be extremely customizable and allow you to receive payments according to their specific payment needs. We welcome all merchants, whether your operations are crypto or non-crypto related, in joining us in our initiative to become the premier payment platform for everyone.
In Phase 1 of FTX Pay, we added the ability to deposit with debit and credit cards to your FTX account. Merchants can now integrate FTX Pay and receive payments with an FTX account or at an external wallet! In Phase 2, we enabled users to receive payments using FTX Pay and to get paid in crypto, fiat, or anything in between (including rare pepes).
Our ecosystem and industry peers were excited to integrate FTX Pay onto their protocols thanks to its simple onboarding flow. We partnered with Metaplex so that users can purchase digital collectibles using FTX Pay; Sonar added FTX Pay to their dashboard to allow users to fund their wallets directly through their GUI; Phantom wallet now allows you to receive SOL, UDSC and USDT directly from FTX; and Moondrops added FTX Pay checkout for zero fee payments. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other exciting integrations include sollet.io, Step.Finance, Solanium, SendIt, and many more!
We also launched FTX Card in the US in March, a new way for FTX.us account holders to pay for goods and services at millions of merchants worldwide—at zero fees and without the need to transfer funds to their bank accounts! FTX Card is made possible thanks to the Swipe Visa Debit Card. Right now, US residents (including Blockfolio users) can sign up and use the card. We are working hard on expanding FTX Card globally to bring financial empowerment to all.
FTX is also leading the launch of 24/7 tokenized equities through Digital Assets AG. We are excited to be the first platform to allow qualified users to start trading the tokens across platforms. DAAG plans to list 55 tokenized stocks on Solana, including household names like Facebook, Tesla, Nvidia, Paypal, Square, Netflix, and Google. The tokenized stocks are backed by 1:1 stocks held at CM Equity and can be used as collateral for margin trading. CM Equity is a licensed financial institution in Germany and acts as the licensed broker dealer for our tokenized stocks.
Copper Clearloop Integration:
In mid-July, we announced our plans to integrate with Copper’s ClearLoop network. As more institutional players get connected to FTX, we’ve seen increased requests for the ability to trade on FTX with funds secured at a regulated custodian. Looking at available solutions, we were more than impressed with the work the Copper team has done in the custody space and we are now looking forward to integrating with ClearLoop in the coming weeks. This integration will enable larger firms with stricter regulatory requirements to access FTX’s suite of industry-leading products and best-in-class liquidity.
Partnerships & Acquisitions
Miami Heat and FTX Arena
We began the year’s PR spree with a tip off to FTX.us and our US-based users. In early June, FTX.us reached an agreement with the NBA and Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners to rename the Miami Heat home stadium to FTX Arena. The naming rights deal will span for 19 years, meaning FTX Arena and our role as the official cryptocurrency exchange partner of the Miami Heat will be around until at least 2040. We look forward to working with the Miami-Dade County on organizing and funding local initiatives on fintech development and education, curbing poverty, and reducing gun violence.
FTX is now also the official cryptocurrency exchange partner of Major League Baseball. Fans can expect to see the FTX logo on umpire uniforms, starting at the MLB’s All-Star Game in Denver on July 13! In fact, this deal marks the first-ever partnership between a crypto company and a major US sports league. It also makes us the MLB’s “first-ever umpire uniform patch partner”. We’re extremely excited to be working closely with the MLB on original and innovative products and experiences beyond just patches and logos. To quote Sam Bankman-Fried: “It’s not the only partnership we were considering, but the enthusiasm and creativity of the MLB team made it the one we were excited for.” Cointelegraph
Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen
On May 26, NFL all-star (and NFT entrepreneur) Tom Brady accepted a sudden invitation to speak at the closing night of Consensus 2021 with Sam Bankman-Fried. Equally surprising, Tom Brady added the tell-tale laser eyes to his Twitter profile picture, letting the world know just where he stands on crypto.
And that was just the beginning. About one month later, it was announced that Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen will become FTX ambassadors, with Gisele also advising us on environmental and social initiatives. They will each be taking an equity stake in FTX Trading Ltd as well, and we are more than happy for them to dive into the industry with their newly opened Blockfolio accounts!
Speaking of the NFL, the number 1 draft pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Trevor Lawrence, signed a multi-year sponsorship contract with FTX in April. In this first-of-its-kind endorsement, Lawrence will receive a substantial amount of the signing bonus in cryptocurrency, including SOL, BTC, and ETH. We see the future of football in Trevor Lawrence and the future of finance in crypto; it only made sense to join forces with Lawrence in educating crypto newcomers and showcasing Blockfolio’s capabilities and zero fee trading for our US audience.
Many of our team members, and undoubtedly, our supporters, are huge esports fans. Many of us have been avid followers of TSM for years. We were therefore beyond delighted to announce our multi-year partnership and \$210 million naming rights deal with the newly named TSM FTX, the premier international esports organization. Together with TSM FTX, we will focus together on creative, industry-leading and philanthropic initiatives in the domains of gaming, esports, financial literacy, and educational opportunities.
Blockfolio has also partnered with retail investment celebrity Dave Portnoy, founder of the pop culture and sports betting blog, Barstool Sports. Blockfolio is now a lead sponsor for the Davey Daytrader Global show on Barstool Bets. El Presidente himself said that Blockfolio is their “biggest client ever”.
On June 6, Logan Paul had his historic fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. To commemorate this day, Logan and Blockfolio collaborated with a \$100,000 crypto giveaway to his millions of followers. A few hours before the fight, Logan redirected his fans to a special Blockfolio page via a QR code on his shirt. 10 lucky fans were selected to win \$10,000 in Ethereum. And whether you were rooting for Logan Paul or Floyd Mayweather Jr., our LOGAN2021 contracts allowed you to express your views that night.
Competitions & Giveaways
In this year’s interim, we continued our usual tradition of holding topical and intense trading campaigns and giveaways. There’s more where that came from, so get ready. And as always, you can stay updated with FTX Twitter for the next big event.
This year, we also worked with Chess.com to host the FTX Crypto Cup, the sixth tournament of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The cup included \$100,000 of BTC as prize and a \$220,000 cash pot. Congratulations to Magnus Carlsen for his spectacular win.
Throughout the month of May, FTX offered every user a 1BP maker rebate as the baseline fee. All users, irrespective of their fee tier, were eligible to enjoy the highest FTX rebate tier!
Want a blast to the past? Then let’s talk DOGE. From April 20th to the 27th, every Convert trade on FTX of over \$1,000 USD could be randomly rewarded with a DOGE trading reward of up to 5 free DOGE!
From January 29 to February 5, we held our WSB Trading Competition, where every hour, users received 1 DOGE For each WSB market traded (at \$500 in notional or greater).
We gave one lucky user an all-expenses paid trip to the World Series; 2 tickets to game one of the World Series, round trip flights, accommodation, and \$1500 worth of spending money (so about two hot dogs, a plate of nachos, and a couple beers)
The MLB launched MOONBLASTS Pick ‘Em presented by FTX in which the person who picks the player that hits the longest home run in the rest of the season wins \$100k worth of bitcoin or cash.
As our followers know, charity is a deeply embedded part of FTX’s culture. We continue to send 1% of all net fees generated by FTX to be donated to the world’s most effective charities. In the last six months, FTX Foundation—FTX, its affiliates, and its employees—have raised more than $10 million in charitable donations for the causes you voted on. Our users themselves have donated over $7.2 million; we express our deepest gratitude to our community for joining us in building and fostering an industry that gives back. We would also like to give special thanks and a shout out to the top five donors: Resistive-Disloyal-Baseball, Noah Dummett, @angelobtc, vgatherps[@]gmail.com, and @rsalame7926.
Our initiatives span multiple causes and, to date, the FTX Foundation has donated a total of \$1.23 million. We donated \$500,000 to OneMoreBreath Foundation to help with COVID relief efforts in India and \$700,000 to Oxygen for India to provide thousands of oxygen cylinders during a critical shortage. We have also begun investigating climate solutions to assist in the wider crypto ecosystems’ efforts to become a greener industry.
Charitable efforts need not be confined to the FTX Foundation, of course. Sam Bankman-Fried himself pledged \$100,000 to support open source Bitcoin development. In conjunction with our announcement of the partnership with Barstool Sports, FTX donated \$100,000 to the Barstool Fund to help small business owners impacted by COVID. It was also recently announced that we will be hosting our FTX Dota Charity event on July 17, where your team may get the chance to play against our employees live; stay tuned for more details. On the US side of things, FTX.us is supporting Wall Street Rides FAR (For Autism Research) as one of its new Diamond Sponsors; we’ll see you on your bikes on October 2, whether in-person or virtually.
For those who want to get in touch with us for charity initiatives, please contact us.
Blog & Podcast
Our Blog remains a popular channel for FTX followers to gain further insight into the markets, the industry, and what’s going on at FTX in general. Check out Jonathan Cheesman’s Editorial piece on tell-tale, social indicators on the crypto markets and his thoughts on the recent bull market compared to the 2018 bubble. Sam Bankman-Fried’s announcement of the FTX Foundation for Charitable Giving offers some meditations on what it means to undertake effective altruism within the crypto industry.
It is always a pleasure bringing onboard some of the most talented, insightful, and fascinating guests onto the FTX podcast. This year’s favorites: Trevor Lawrence, NFL quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars; Joe McCann, Technologist, Angel Investor and Trader; Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder and CEO of Solana; and Jonathan Cheesman, Head of OTC and Institutional Sales at FTX, just to name a few.
We’ve got many more guests lined up for both the FTX Podcast and our affiliate show, The Antidote. We are always open to guest suggestions. Please reach out and let us know who you want to hear from next!
Where We Go From Here
This is one of our longest blog pieces yet, which really speaks to the sheer scope of what our teams have accomplished these few months.
We tirelessly strive towards delivering the best crypto and trading experience, bridging the gap between the crypto and TradFi worlds, and leading by example in innovation, customer service, and care for our communities.
We’ll see you at the 2021 Full Year Review.