My guest today is Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange, FTX. In a little over two years, FTX has registered 1.2 million users, grown to facilitate $10.9 billion of daily trading volume, and reached an $18 billion valuation. Prior to FTX, Sam worked at Jane Street Capital before founding a quant trading firm of his own, Alameda Research. At just 29, Sam has packed a lot into a short period of time, and as I’m sure you’ll hear, he has a special ability to harness uncertainty and think deeply across a range of topics.
In our discussion, we cover the building blocks of a perfect market, the key areas of inefficiency in today’s exchanges, and Sam’s north stars of product design and effective altruism. We also talk about fairness in crypto markets, how FTX thinks about user acquisition, and derivatives as key enablers of properly functioning markets.
Please enjoy my great conversation with Sam Bankman-Fried.
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[00:03:57] - [First question] - What motivates him and what the true north of his vision is
[00:07:12] - Evaluating the impact of well-functioning markets and philanthropic spending
[00:11:55] - The key functions and building blocks of a perfect market
[00:14:59] - Who pays $50 million to access fiat market order books
[00:21:49] - What is valuable about having access to order book data
[00:25:41] - Assessing and understanding the state of fairness in crypto markets today
[00:31:51] - Can crypto only move as fast as the fiat system keeps up
[00:32:43] - The advantages and disadvantages of stablecoins and USDT
[00:34:46] - How much fiat inflow there is into crypto markets and exchanges today
[00:37:36] - What it is about cryptocurrency exchanges that are so appealing to him
[00:42:21] - Building in a dynamic world and deciding the sequence of problems to solve
[00:45:12] - Whether or not the US is on the wrong side of crypto and countries competing for healthy regulatory environments in this emerging asset class
[00:47:25] - Thoughts on centralization and what being decentralized unlocks
[00:50:22] - Why derivatives are such a key function of properly functioning markets
[00:52:38] - The competitive landscape between derivatives and exchanges
[00:54:35] - Spending marketing dollars and paid acquisitions for FTX
[00:57:30] - The growing trend of user-generated content becoming user-generated assets
[01:02:24] - How many layer one blockchains we’ll need and the competition for dominance
[01:05:18] - Thoughts on Bitcoin as the pioneer of the space and how relevant it still is
[01:06:26] - Possibly reaching a state where everything happens on-chain
[01:08:23] - What he means when he says he has more RAM than hard drive space
[01:09:39] - Amassing wealth insanely fast and whether or not it affects him
[01:10:26] - Important things to consider in this rapidly growing space
[01:12:02] - A decision he made while respecting the power laws that govern us
[01:13:10] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for him