Michael Saylor on SBF’s ’Diabolical Twist’ That Led to the Fall of the FTX Empire
On Tuesday (15 November 2022), Michael Saylor, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at business intelligence software company MicroStrategy Inc. (Nasdaq: MSTR), was affected what the ripple effects of the collapse of FTX would be.
It is worth remembering that on 11 August 2020, MicroStrategy announced via a press release that it had “purchased 21,454 bitcoins at an aggregate purchase price of $250 million” to use as a “primary treasury reserve asset.”
Saylor said at the time:
“Our decision to invest in Bitcoin at this time was driven in part by a confluence of macro factors affecting the economic and business landscape that we believe is creating long-term risks for our corporate treasury program ― risks that should be addressed proactively.“
Since then MicroStrategy has continued to accumulate Bitcoin and its former CEO has become one of Bitcoin’s most vocal advocates. MicroStrategy’s latest $BTC purchase, which Saylor tweeted about on 20 September 2022, means that the firm is now HODLing around 130,000 bitcoins, which were “acquired for ~$3.98 billion at an average price of ~$30,639 per bitcoin.”
FTX Trading Ltd. (doing business as “FTX.com”) issued the following press release on 11 November 2022:
And here is how Sam Bankman-Fried (aka “SBF” on social media platforms), the Co-Founder of FTX.com, announced the collapse of the FTX empire:
The following video from Wall Street Journal nicely summarizes how FTX went bankrupt:
Anyway, on 15 November 2022, the former MicroStrategy CEO gave an interview to former Wall Street analyst Charles Payne, who is the host of Fox Business Network (FBN) show “Making Money With Charles Payne“, and had this to say about the FTX empire and the man whose actions helped to bring its downfall:
“It’s quite the story, Charles. FTX, they created a few tokens like FTT and Serum. They promoted a few tokens, they transferred the tokens to Sam’s hedge fund Alameda, and since the supply was largely in friendly hands, they were able to manipulate the price of those tokens up through insider wash trading.
“They eventually got it up to 14 billion dollars in accounting value through slight of hand. And of course, normally the cynical Bitcoiners think [that] these crypto casinos are just manipulating the price of the token up to dump it on retail, but Sam came up with a particular diabolical twist of the entire thing, which is he didn’t just create 14 billion dollars of air tokens through inside trading. He actually posted them as collateral, and then went shopping for a 10 billion dollar loan from a bank against the air tokens, and the only bank that he could find would give the loan was his own bank.
“So, he applied for the loan, he granted himself the loan, and then he very quietly in a duplicitous fashion siphoned off 10 billion dollars or more of real assets out of FTX and Alameda, where they proceeded to spend the money on politicians and lobbying and stadium rights and advertisement and celebrity endorsements and condos in the Bahamas. And then they traded a bunch and made a bunch of bad trades and then they lost the money. And yeah, here we are. It’s just a really tragic situation.“
On 11 November 2022, Saylor had this to say about the FTX debacle during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”:
“I think this week highlights the virtues of Bitcoin as much as it exposes the fragility of the crypto ecosystem. Bitcoin’s a commodity you can self custody without an issuer. The vast majority of all the crypto tokens out there are unregistered securities trading on unregulated exchanges, and they’re fairly centralised.
“And so what could go wrong? Well, we saw what could go wrong if a centralised token trading on unregistered exchange blows up this week. I think that Bitcoiners have been predicting this for a long time. Speaking for all the bitcoiners, we feel like we’re trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with crypto, and we want out…
“I think the industry needs to grow up, and the regulators are coming into this space. And what the world wants is digital assets and digital commodities and digital securities, but there’s no way to register a digital security. There’s no clear guideline, a roadmap for a designating a digital commodity. The world wants a trillion dollars of digital currency in the form of the USD stablecoin…
“And so I think that the regulatory intervention of late has been all negative, like enforcement, but the marketplace is waiting for the regulators to say ‘this is how you register a digital currency’, this is how you register a digital security or a digital commodity’…
“And instead of saying all the crypto exchanges should register, we need to get the crypto exchanges registered because the future of the industry is registered digital assets trading on regulated exchanges where everyone has the investor protections they need and the investors understand the difference between Bitcoin and a stablecoin and a security token…
“I think it’s definitely going to the strength in the hand of the regulators. It’s going to accelerate their intervention… And there’s regressive regulation, which is to say ‘you can’t really do anything’, and that’ll contract the industry… but there’s a progressive regulation, which says ‘this is a path to register a digital security, a digital currency, a digital token, and your digital exchange’.
“If there is progressive regulation, then I think you won’t see 20,000 tokens, you’ll see dozens but there’ll be properly registered tokens. The industry is going to grow much more rapidly. And ultimately, we’re moving from the entrepreneurial stage where this was a wild west offshore where anything goes to an institutional digital asset stage… and we’re all just going to grow up and the world is going to benefit from that.“