Who Is Alameda's Former co-CEO Sam Trabucco?

The former co-CEO of Alameda Research took steps to distance himself from the firm before and after announcing his departure.

AccessTimeIconNov 22, 2022 at 3:06 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 23, 2022 at 3:53 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconNov 22, 2022 at 3:06 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 23, 2022 at 3:53 p.m. UTC
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  • Former co-CEO of Alameda Research
  • One of the firm's first hires, who oversaw the development of ever-riskier trading strategies
  • Retired in early 2022

When Sam Trabucco stepped down as co-CEO of trading firm Alameda Research in August, he tweeted, "But if I've learned anything at Alameda, it's how to make good decisions – and this is the right one for me."

In hindsight, it seems like impeccable timing for Trabucco to quit a high-stress job to spend time on his newly purchased boat – mere months before the company would go under water.

It only took 10 days for Sam Bankman-Fried's crypto empire to go from processing withdrawals, albeit slowly, to declaring bankruptcy. This followed a CoinDesk report in November showing that, for all intents and purposes, Alameda Research, which had $8 billion of liabilities and $14.6 billion in assets, was insolvent.

The hedge fund Trabucco ran likely came to own many of its illiquid altcoins during his tenure. This includes the inexplicably large amount of FTT, the exchange token for Alameda’s sister company, FTX.

Trabucco joined Alameda as a trader in 2019 after a stint as a quant trader on Susquehanna International Group’s bond desk. He was appointed co-CEO in October 2021 with Caroline Ellison, after his friend-cum-boss Bankman-Fried resigned in an attempt to distance the SBF-owned trading firm from the SBF-controlled trading platform.

“He is not really involved in day-to-day operations in Alameda. Caroline and I have been leading the charge there for quite some time,” Trabucco told CoinDesk at the time.

Trabucco met Bankman-Fried during a five week math camp at Mount Holyoke College in 2010, according to Insider. He recalled that Bankman-Fried barely slept during their stay. The two reunited at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Trabucco received his bachelor’s degrees in math and computer science.

As co-CEO, Trabucco helped oversee Alameda’s expansion beyond its initial market-neutral, but relatively low-profit business as a market maker for low-volume cryptocurrencies into riskier trading strategies, according to a Twitter thread detailing that shift. For instance, he said Alameda traders began exploring yield farming in decentralized finance (DeFi).

Eventually, according to Trabucco’s account, the trading firm began taking in “huge” profits placing highly leveraged bets on assets like dogecoin after noticing its price went up whenever Elon Musk tweeted about the meme coin.

Although the full story is not yet known, emerging evidence suggests Alameda suffered a series of losses during the beginning of the crypto market downturn. Ellison did not include Trabucco among a list of named persons who knew about the decision to send customer funds to Alameda, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In August, Trabucco announced his resignation and became an adviser of the company. On Nov. 8, when FTX agreed to sell itself to Binance, Trabucco tweeted, "Much love to everyone," and that he "hope[d] the road ahead is brighter."

Trabucco did not return a request for comment for this article.


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Xinyi Luo

Xinyi Luo is CoinDesk Layer 2's features and opinion intern. She does not currently hold any cryptocurrencies.

Daniel Kuhn

Daniel Kuhn is a deputy managing editor for Consensus Magazine. He owns minor amounts of BTC and ETH.