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Sam Bankman-Fried has been at the forefront of the crypto industry for several years now. I had the pleasure of sitting down and listening to how it all began. From a university student without a clear sense of mission, to being found by EA and set on a compelling path. This first episode dives into Sam’s background and how he got to where he is now.
From MIT to a Jane Street interview and job offer, which was accepted, Sam became a trader in an ETF desk, where he stayed for two years, acquiring a breadth of knowledge in derivative products and overall trading. Known by some at Alameda as the best thinker under pressure, we must assume he picked that up at Jane Street. Taking lessons learned from this experience, he decided to take earn to give more seriously and left Jane Street to found Alameda.
Alameda Research was founded in October 2017. They manage over $100 million in digital assets and trade $600 million to $1.5 billion per day across thousands of products: all major coins and altcoins, as well as their derivatives. They have a full-scale global operation with the ability to trade on all major exchanges and markets.
With decades of experience from Jane Street, Optiver, Susquehanna, Facebook, and Google, they have built the most sophisticated trading systems in the crypto world and quote extremely tight OTC spreads. All of this began to come to fruition once Sam contacted his old college roommate Gary Wang who left Google to join him in this crypto startup. The two of them began to develop the systems that laid the foundation for everything Alameda has become.
In 2019 the need for an innovative non-btc collateralized Bitcoin derivatives exchange became clear to Sam. With the ability to provide liquidity for this platform, he launched FTX.com, then known as ftexchange.com. In just about a year, FTX is now valued at over 1b dollars, becoming one of the fastest unicorns in history. In this episode, Sam touches upon some of the leadership lessons learned from founding two companies in a young industry.
00:00 - 02:55 Introduction
02:55 - 4:00 Family
04:00 - 08:48 Giving as a motivation
08:48 - 12:40 Effective Altruism
12:40 - 15:00 University and why Physics
15:00 - 16:15 Takeaways from college
16:15 - 21:00 Jane Street
21:00 - 24:25 Entering crypto
24:25 - 30:37 Lessons from founding a company
30:37 - 37:45 What could be changed in hindsight