May 8, 2023

Veteran crypto journalist and former CoinDesker Brady Dale has published a new book on FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried's downfall and the longevity of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Video transcript

Coindesk itself is about to be a decade old and there's all sorts of big stories that we're unpacking in that special series over at coindesk dot com slash Coindesk 10. Now we turn to someone who used to work for Coindesk. Brady Dale used to be a senior reporter here. He's now at axios and now I guess as of tomorrow officially, he will be a published author with a sweet new book called SBF. How the FTX bankruptcy Sunk Crypto is very bad. Good guy. I may have botched part of that, but there it is. Check it out, go buy it from your local bookstore tomorrow. Brady. Welcome. How are you doing? Hey, guys, great to be back with the old gang. I think I was on there like three times ever, right? But it was usually you guys. So it, uh it makes me feel nostalgic best ever. It's good to have you here. Congrats on the book. It's awesome that you are the first book to market about the SPF and FD downfall. What's like the spiciest thing that you uncovered? That's my main question, right. I know you have maybe a scoop or two in this book. What is, what is the, what is the one thing that you felt was most regulatory in doing this reporting? I mean, it's in the weeds. Uh, but I this, this is a crypto audience. I feel like you all will get it, you know, that. So there's, there's three interviews with Sam represented in the book two that I did a million years ago that I'd never done anything with. And then one that was done like, you know, as I was meant to be turning the book in like on the last business day of 2022. And one of the things Sam told me in that conversation, which I think is kind of spicy for people who get the space is that when they made F tt you know, there was a giant set aside for the creators like there is for all new tokens, but all of that set aside always belonged to Alameda, not FTX. I think most of us assumed that the F TT is set aside was for FTX, that FTX would own it. But Sam told me no, that was always, that was always earmarked for Alameda. It was as he put it to me. And this is quoted in the book, um their payment for letting a bunch of the executives, uh you know, check out for a while to build FTX because, you know, Gary and Sam had worked and I think, yeah, it would have been there too, had worked at Alameda before they had the idea for FDX. So, to me that's a pretty big deal. I mean, what the implications of it are. I mean, I guess the main implication is that, you know, Alameda was always be built on this, um, you know, basically a meme coin, sad stuff. Ok. I'll get the next one. tell me a little bit about, like, producing the book itself. Uh It seems like there was like a lot of resources out there. There's a lot of voices probably sort of hard to determine who's the best source here. Was it mostly built on interviews with Sam and like his co-founders or did you find a lot of sources out there in crypto media that were helpful? Well, it's, it's mostly, I mean, most of the story, you know, II I don't want to pretend like the book has a bunch of like brand new information in it, what the value of the book I think is putting together the whole story of Sam in one place and then also uh unpacking and I think pretty interesting and compelling and sometimes controversial voicey sort of ways. Uh the way the industry works and how Sam's Place and it fits into all of that. So, you know, most of the sources were previous reporting that folks have done. I mean, honestly, a ton of it was my own reporting, you know, I, I felt weird sort of citing my own like old coin death stories a million times throughout the thing. But they were, they were relevant. Um But then, yeah, I also talked to Sam. I talked to, uh, one woman he used to work with early on. I talked to uh, one or two people who used to work there. One thing I found is that late last year folks who, who had worked at FDX and Alameda really didn't want to talk about it. I got one guy hitting me up in telegram offering to talk to me about it if I paid him. But I was just like, no man, I'm not gonna do that. Um I don't really know who that was. I don't even know if it was real. But um but so, so yeah, so it was mostly, it's mostly built on existing sources and just sort of putting it all together folks. It's also built on one fabulous episode of the hash on Coindesk TV that featured Sam Bagman freed himself. We get a shout out through your book, which is pretty cool. This was famously right after the Super Bowl in which they had the big Larry David commercial. I want you to unpack why? That's a representative detail in what may have been the undoing of Sam in his infatuation with sort of hobnobbing with folks and being seen as a celebrity. You sort of assert that that was a bit of a problem and kind of led to the demise. Can you just unpack that and sort of that thesis that uh that is wound to the book? Sure, this is a big argument I make in the book and, and I remember the day that uh that FTX announced its Miami Heat deal and maybe I said it in the coin desk slack at the time. And that's the only place I, I would have said it. I wouldn't have said it publicly. But I was just like, I feel weird about this. You know, I argue that Sam got kind of obsessed with being famous. He got obsessed with celebrity. I think it was, I do think Sam wanted to do good in the world, but I also think he really wanted people to know he was doing good and the bigger they got and the more attention that he got, um the more excited I think he got about it. So it was very important, I think for him to tell you guys that, like he hadn't seen the Super Bowl ad because he'd been watching it at the Super Bowl in the famous person box. You know, I think that stuff sort of like caused Sam to get sort of worked. OK. And lastly, you've sat with this story for, for so long, you know, the three of us, we have to switch our time and attention to so many different stories throughout the day. What's the biggest lesson you think that the industry can take away from ftxs story, not your keys, not your crypto man. I mean the oldest lesson of crypto is still right. I mean, that's what the Sam story illustrates. You know, people are, you know, normy point to the Sam story and they're like, look, this shows what's wrong with crypto and it's like, no, this is what this is what shows this the Sam story shows what's always been wrong with, you know, trusting your assets to a stranger. So, uh yeah, the biggest lesson is the first lesson of crypto. Like, don't, don't trust, verify. OK, Brady, I got one last question for you and I want your spiciest take. Did your opinion of SBF change? And how did it change over the time of writing this book? Uh It didn't change over the time of writing the book, it changed as FTX fell apart. You know, I always thought people, I thought everyone kind of misunderstood Sam. Um I thought that all along, I thought they just didn't get the effect of altruism thing and how that motivated him. Um But I also didn't think he was uh so crazy that he would put everything at risk like this. So, uh it was when it all blew up, that my opinion up and really changed because this just seemed like horribly negligent. Um One last other random thing I wanna say about the book is just I discovered this weekend. Uh that my acknowledgements disappeared from the print version. So there was supposed to be a shout out for Zach in there because he was the first person I talked to when I got off of the deal or like one of the first theory people. Uh And, and some of those pages just got lost before it went to print. So anyway, thank you Zach for being the person who's added me the most in the world and for talking about this book. Um And uh yeah, so at least that acknowledgement is here and sorry to all the other people. I thanks to that aren't in there, dude. That's amazing. Thank you. You're very kind to do that to get that on the record. I very much appreciate it. That's Brady Jail. He just wrote SBF how the FTX bankruptcy unwound crypto is very good, bad guy for real. Coming out tomorrow. Check it out.

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