Celebrated nonfiction chronicler Michael Lewis has spent the past six months walking the shadow of cryptocurrency tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried, it emerged Friday.
Lewis, 62, has seen his previous books The Big Short, Moneyball and The Blind Side turn into Hollywood blockbusters.
On Friday, a literary agent, Michael Snyder, informed his contacts that Lewis had six months worth of material about Bankman-Fried – who had a spectacular feud with Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao.
Zhao, head of the world’s largest bitcoin and crypto exchange, said last week that he planned to bail out Bankman-Fried’s company FTX, but then backed out, saying FTX was not stable.
Lewis compared the pair to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
“Michael hasn’t written anything yet, but the story has grown too big for us to wait,” the agent said in his email.
Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short, Moneyball and The Blind Side, has been interviewing Sam Bankman-Fried for the past six months.
FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (left) and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (right) were compared to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader by Lewis
Snyder continued, “His youth, early success on Wall Street, embrace of effective altruism and the establishment of a crypto empire that catapulted him into the ranks of the world’s richest people in record time, seemed more than adequate for a signature Michael Lewis- book .
SBF: Vegan hooded son of Stanford Law professors who sleeps four hours a night
Sam Bankman-Fried, a vegan who sleeps four hours a night, had become a public face of cryptocurrency, with a personal fortune once estimated at nearly $25 billion.
FTX’s success allowed the platform to forge prestigious partnerships, most notably with American soccer legend Tom Brady and former supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and it featured comedian Larry David in a Super Bowl television commercial.
Almost always appearing in a hoodie and dark T-shirt, Bankman-Fried has pledged to donate nearly all of his fortune to his favorite causes, such as animal welfare and the fight against global warming.
The son of professors at Stanford Law School and a graduate of the elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he was born on the Stanford campus and grew up in California.
Sam Bankman fried, 30
He worked as a broker on Wall Street before turning to cryptocurrencies in 2017.
Bankman-Fried relocated the company to the Bahamas, where taxes are almost nonexistent, saying the Caribbean country is “one of the few countries with a comprehensive licensing regime for cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges.”
He has been an outspoken advocate for easier access to the crypto market for the general public, particularly in the United States.
“Of course the events of the past week have provided a dramatic surprise at the end of the story.”
In August, Lewis broadly discussed his new book in an interview with Financial News.
“I really don’t want to reveal exactly what I’m writing about,” he said.
“But I’ve found a character I can write about – it strangely connects Flash Boys, The Big Short, and Liar’s Poker.
“I think it’s possible that it will be framed as a cryptobook, but it won’t be a cryptobook.
“It’s about this very unusual character. You learn all about crypto and you learn what ruined the market structure in the United States and so on.”
FTX had a one-time valuation of $32 billion and significant ties to the entertainment industry.
Advertisements starring Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, as well as Larry David, were widely promoted, and Steph Curry and Naomi Osaka received paid support.
Bankman-Fried received much acclaim as he quickly achieved superstar status as possibly the world’s first billionaire.
He was born in Stanford, California, had founded FTX in 2019 and was growing rapidly – recently it was valued at $32 billion.
Bankman-Fried was the son of professors at Stanford University, who were known to play the “League of Legends” video game in meetings. Bankman-Fried attracted investment from the highest echelons of Silicon Valley.
Until last week, Bankman-Fried was seen as a white knight to the industry.
Whenever the crypto industry had one of its crises, Bankman-Fried was the person most likely to come up with a rescue plan.
When online trading platform Robinhood ran into financial difficulties earlier this year — collateral damage from the stock drop and crypto prices — Bankman-Fried jumped in to buy a stake in the company as a sign of support.
When Bankman-Fried bought the assets of bankrupt crypto firm Voyager Digital for $1.4 billion this summer, it brought a sense of relief to Voyager’s account holders, whose assets have been frozen since its bankruptcy. That rescue is now up for debate.
As the king of crypto, his influence began to spill over into political and popular culture.
FTX bought prominent sports sponsorship from Formula Racing and bought the naming rights to an arena in Miami.
Bankman-Fried is set to testify in December for the House Financial Services Committee hearing titled Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States
He pledged to donate $1 billion to Democrats this election cycle — his actual donations ran into the tens of millions — and prominent politicians like Bill Clinton were invited to speak at FTX conferences.
Sequoia Capital, which invested in Apple, Cisco, Google, Airbnb and YouTube, described their meeting with Bankman-Fried as likely “talking to the world’s first billionaire.”
Sequoia enthusiastically invested in FTX after one Zoom meeting in 2021.
“I don’t know how I know, I just know. SBF is a winner,” wrote Sequoia Capital’s Adam Fisher in a Bankman-Fried profile for the company, referring to Bankman-Fried by its popular online name.
The article, which was published in late September, has been removed from Sequoia’s website.
Sequoia has written off its $213 million investments to zero.
A pension fund in Ontario, Canada also wrote off its investment to zero.
In a succinct statement, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund said, “Of course, not all early-stage investments in this asset class perform as expected.”
Bankman-Fried had been the subject of some criticism before FTX collapsed.
Elon Musk also shared a crude meme that depicted Bankman-Fried as the star of a porn movie titled ‘Man F***s 5 Million People At Once’
While operating FTX largely outside of US jurisdiction from its headquarters in the Bahamas, Bankman-Fried increasingly spoke of the need for greater regulation of the cryptocurrency industry.
Many crypto proponents are against government oversight.
Now, the collapse of FTX may have contributed to the call for stricter regulation.
One of those critics was Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao.
The feud between the two billionaires spilled out onto Twitter, where Zhao and Bankman-Fried together had millions of followers.
Zhao helped spark the withdrawals that doomed FTX when he said Binance would sell its holdings in FTX’s crypto token FTT.