Sam Bankman-Fried Hands Control of Crypto Trading Firm Alameda to Two Deputies

The crypto billionaire had already shifted most of his time to running FTX. Caroline Ellison and Sam Trabucco will continue running the show at Alameda Research.

Oct 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 12, 2021 at 1:33 p.m. UTC

Sam Bankman-Fried is stepping back from his quant trading shop Alameda Research to make room for two co-CEOs: Caroline Ellison and Sam Trabucco.

The pair, both traders with pre-crypto ties to Bankman-Fried, will oversee Alameda’s vast network of trading, yield farming, startup investments and market making. Alameda is one of the crypto landscape’s trading behemoths, booking a $1 billion profit last year, according to Forbes.

Alameda Research was Bankman-Fried’s launch pad into the crypto big leagues. He created the firm in 2017 to exploit crypto arbitrage opportunities, hiring Ellison, who worked with him at Jane Street in 2018, and Trabucco, a Susquehanna bond trader and friend from MIT, one year later.

Their ascendence is more a formalization of Alameda’s C-suite than a reorganization, according to Trabucco. He said Bankman-Fried has been fully dedicated to running his crypto exchange FTX since it launched in 2020.

“Once FTX got started, it was sort of using all his time,” Trabucco said.

He provided an estimate of Bankman-Fried’s current time allocations: “2% on Alameda; 98% on FTX.”

Nothing much will change at Alameda now that he and Ellison are formally in control, Trabucco said. The firm, which trades billions of dollars in crypto markets daily, will still be focused on generating large returns.

“Everything we do is because we think it will make us money,” Trabucco said. He described Alameda as an opportunistic firm ready to act on whichever strategy best achieves that goal.

For the last few months, the best route has been riding the volatility game in the “normal crypto markets.”

“Really short term, that’s what I expect us to be doing,” Trabucco said. But it has no shortage of money-making means.

Alameda is to the crypto market what Citadel and Susquehanna are for traditional equities: a behind-the-scenes quant-trading and market-making giant. But those firms refuse to touch crypto; Ken Griffin of Citadel says the U.S. crypto regulatory landscape is just too murky.

Trabucco is less spooked by regulatory concerns. He’s based in Hong Kong.

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Danny is a business reporter at CoinDesk.