Crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried's demise, with his platform FTX

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Crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried's demise, with his platform FTX

He was the face of the digital economy, a young one at that, a media darling seemingly destined to unite the sector.

Sam Bankman-Fried's stunning rise to popularity and wealth would be matched by his stunning decline and, with it, his platform FTX.

In a few months, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate with a master's degree in physics had taken a startup he founded in 2019 and transformed it into the world's second largest crypto exchange platform.

He quickly became more than just a young entrepreneur, fashioning himself as an ambassador of crypto and making his first appearance in Congress in December 2021, testimonying before lawmakers on the then-novel form of currency.

The public would come to know a rather oddball whiz kid with a mop of curly dark hair who, when not suited up for appearances on Capitol Hill, wore shorts and a T-shirt as his look de rigueur.

The young man known as SBF would charm American lawmakers with his Straight Talk and vision of crypto's future, including an extensive regulatory regime, a position at odds with many in the industry.

From a platform for people to make donations in cryptocurrency to a market for financial derivative products that step on the Toes of Wall Street, he developed a project after project.

At his peak, at his peak, this Californian entrepreneur amassed a fortune estimated to be worth $26 billion.

SBF, a vegan, said he believed in the concept of effective altruism--finding the best way to help other people, particularly by donating all or part of one's wealth to charity rather than, say, volunteering at a soup kitchen.

Bankman-Fried, who bought the troubled Bitcoin platform BlockFi, and shares in another company that was in trouble, Voyager, faced a crisis in the cryptocurrency world in the spring of 2022.

Bankman-Fried's team is alleged to have used the money of FTX customers to cover risky operations by an affiliate trading company called Alameda Research to buy posh real estate and make political donations.

In November 2022, CoinDesk revealed that Alameda had converted a significant portion of its assets into FTT, a crypto token created by FTX. Binance's head, Changpeng Zhao, announced that it was selling all the FTT tokens it held, causing it to lose 90 percent of its value in a matter of days and taking the Bankman-Fried empire with it.

Bankman-Fried, who had lost his fortune overnight, was extradited from the Bahamas, where FTX had its headquarters. In December 2022, he was indicted on charges of fraud and racketeering.

He faces a seven-count indictment in a trial starting Tuesday in Manhattan.

I'm broke and wearing an ankle monitor and one of the most hated people in the world, he wrote in a document published recently by The New York Times.

Bankman-Fried admitted in court days after the collapse of FTX that he'screwed up' but denied taking other people's money and blamed former colleagues for the huge mess, including those who will now testify against him during the trial.