Ftx , collapse, founder, news, arena & More

Cryptocurrency exchange
FTX
Industry Cryptocurrency
Founded May 2019; 3 years ago (2019-05)
Founders Sam Bankman-Fried
Gary Wang
Fate Chapter 11 bankruptcy (Nov 2022)
Headquarters
Nassau, New Providence

,

The Bahamas
Key people
John J Ray III, CEO (Nov 2022 – present)
Products
  • Cryptocurrency exchange
  • cryptocurrencies
Revenue US$102 billion (2021)
Operating income
US$272 million (2021)
Net income
US$388 million (2021)
Number of employees
c 300 (2022)
Website ftxcom

FTX is a Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange The exchange was founded in 2019 and, at its peak in July 2021, had over one million users and was the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume FTX is incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda and headquartered in The Bahamas FTX is closely associated with FTXUS, a separate exchange available to US residents

Since 11 November 2022, FTX has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the US court system following a liquidity crisis due to capital shortfall Public concern began when a November 2022 CoinDesk article stated that FTX’s partner firm Alameda Research held a significant portion of its assets in FTX’s native token FTT Following this revelation, rival exchange Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao announced that Binance would sell its holdings of the token, which was quickly followed by a spike in customer withdrawals from FTX FTX was unable to meet the demand for customer withdrawals Binance signed a letter of intent to acquire the firm with due diligence to follow, to ensure that customers could recover their assets from FTX in a timely manner, but withdrew its offer the next day, citing reports of mishandled customer funds and US agency investigations

History

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried and Zixiao “Gary” Wang founded FTX in May 2019 FTX began within Alameda Research, a trading firm founded by Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison, and other former employees of Jane Street in 2017, in Berkeley, California FTX is an abbreviation of “Futures Exchange” Changpeng Zhao of Binance purchased a 20% stake in FTX for approximately $100 million, six months after Bankman-Fried and Wang started the firm

In August 2020, FTX acquired Blockfolio, a cryptocurrency portfolio tracking app, for $150 million

In July 2021, FTX raised $900 million at an $18 billion valuation from over 60 investors, including Softbank, Sequoia Capital, and other firms Bankman-Fried bought out Zhao’s stake for approximately $2 billion

In September 2021, FTX moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to The Bahamas

On January 14, 2022, FTX announced a $2 billion venture fund named FTX Ventures In November 2022, FTX Ventures’ website went offline

In January 2022, FTX raised $400 million in Series C funding at a $32 billion valuation

On February 11, 2022, FTXUS announced that the company would soon begin offering stock trading to its US customers

In February 2022, it was reported that FTX was creating a gaming division that would help developers add cryptocurrency, NFTs, and other blockchain-related assets into video games

In July 2022, FTX finalized a deal giving it the option to buy BlockFi for about $240 million The deal included a $400 million credit facility for BlockFi

In August 2022, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a cease-and-desist order to FTX for making “false and misleading representations” about deposits being covered by FDIC insurance following FTX president Brett Harrison’s tweet implying otherwise Following the regulatory action, Harrison deleted the tweet and Bankman-Fried clarified in a tweet that FTX deposits are not insured by the FDIC

On September 26, 2022, FTXUS won its bid at auction for the digital assets of bankrupt crypto brokerage Voyager Digital The value of the deal was approximately $142 billion, including $131 billion in Voyager-held cryptocurrency and $111 million in additional consideration The deal was subject to approval by bankruptcy courts and Voyager’s creditors

On September 27, 2022, FTXUS President Brett Harrison announced he would be stepping down from an active role at the exchange but would stay on in an advisory capacity The company did not immediately announce a replacement for Harrison, who had been FTXUS president since May 2021

In October 2022, it was reported that FTX was under investigation in Texas for allegedly selling unregistered securities

November 2022 crisis and bankruptcy

Further information: Bankruptcy of FTX
FTX Token
Denominations
Code FTT
Development
White paper FTT Whitepaper
Initial release 5 May 2019 (3 years ago) (2019-05-05)
Ledger
Circulating supply 134,454,97827 FTT (est August 2022)

Background: FTX and Alameda, Binance, and CoinDesk report

Bloomberg reported, in September 2022, on the close relationship between Alameda Research and FTX Bloomberg noted that Alameda had functioned as a market maker for FTX early in the exchange’s history, and that the trading firm remained, in June and July 2022, the biggest known depositor of stable coins on FTX Bloomberg further stated that the regulatory oversight which applies to companies operating in traditional equities markets would have prohibited the relationship between the two firms were it applicable Alameda’s trading on FTX meant the trading firm was potentially in a position to gain financially when others lost money on the exchange Bankman-Fried, at points, defended Alameda’s use of FTX, as a liquidity provider

According to John J Ray III, Alameda had a “secret exemption” from FTX’s auto-liquidation protocol (Later, the existence of such an undisclosed beneficial relationship was described by the Ray, the new CEO of FTX, as a “complete failure of corporate controls” and indicated gross mismanagement Between early 2021 and March 2022, Alameda Research amassed crypto tokens ahead of FTX announcing the decision to list them for trading

According to anonymous sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, FTX had lent $10 billion of its customers’ assets to Alameda Research in 2022, Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison disclosed to other Alameda employees that she, Sam Bankman-Fried, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh that knew about that decision An anonymous source cited by the New York Times said the same According to the sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, Ellison said the funds were used in part to pay back loans Alameda had taken to make investments Ray said that FTX used software to conceal the misuse of customer funds

Several months after Bloomberg’s initial report on the relationship between the two firms, on 2 November 2022, CoinDesk reported that a significant portion of Alameda Research’s assets were held in FTT, the exchange token issued by FTX It said that there were $51 billion worth of FTT tokens in circulation, and that Alameda’s balance sheet held $366 billion of “unlocked FTT”, $216 billion of “FTT collateral”, and $292 million of “locked FTT” In the weeks immediately preceding the publication of the story by CoinDesk, Bankman-Fried was characterized by anonymous sources cited by Bloomberg as “desperately” attempting to raise money for FTX Additionally, Bankman-Fried had been publicly “dueling” with Changpeng Zhao on Twitter in the months preceding the CoinDesk article, in part due to disagreements stemming from their differing views on regulation of cryptocurrency

Crisis begins: Binance FTT sale, sell-off, and withdrawn rescue bid

Several days after the publication of the CoinDesk article, on 6 November, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said on Twitter that his firm intended to sell all its holdings of FTT Binance had received FTT from FTX in 2021 during a transaction in which FTX bought back Binance’s equity stake in FTX Zhao cited “recent revelations that came to light” as the motivation for selling FTT Bloomberg and TechCrunch reported that any sale by Binance would likely have an outsized impact on FTT’s price, given the token’s low trading volume The announcement by Zhao of the pending sale and disputes between Zhao and Bankman-Fried on Twitter led to a decline in the price of FTT and other cryptocurrencies, resulting in a three-day depositor selloff of an estimated $6 billion that sent FTX into crisis On 8 November, Zhao announced Binance had entered into a non-binding agreement to purchase FTX due to what he referred to as a “liquidity crisis” at FTX The deal did not include the sale of FTXUS Zhao announced on Twitter that the company would complete due diligence soon, adding that all cryptocurrency exchanges should avoid using FTT tokens as collateral He also wrote that he expected FTT to be “highly volatile in the coming days as things develop” On the day of that announcement, FTT price dropped by 80 percent, erasing $2 billion in value

On 9 November, Bloomberg called the acquisition of FTX by Binance “unlikely” due to the poor state of FTX’s finances Bloomberg also reported that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission were investigating the nature of FTX’s connections to Bankman-Fried’s other holdings and its handling of client funds Later that day, the Wall Street Journal reported that Binance would not move forward with the deal to acquire FTX Binance cited FTX’s reported mishandling of customer funds and pending investigations of FTX as the reasons for not pursuing the deal Bankman-Fried said in a Slack message that FTX had learned through the press about Binance’s concern and decision

On 9 November, FTX’s website said that it was not processing withdrawals at that time Bankman-Fried said that although the firm’s assets were worth more than its clients’ deposits, it would need funds from outside to meet demand for withdrawals due to a lack of liquidity Bankman-Fried stated on 9 November that FTXUS, as a separate company, was “not currently impacted” by the crisis

Worsening crisis: bankruptcy and unauthorized transactions

On 10 November, Axios cited anonymous sources who said that FTX approached Kraken for a potential rescue deal Bankman-Fried made several statements on 10 November, taking responsibility for FTX’s failure and indicating that FTX was still seeking capital to remain solvent Bankman-Fried also announced that Alameda Research would cease trading and end operations FTX’s in-house legal and compliance teams had, for the most part, resigned by 10 November Anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal on 10 November said that Alameda Research owed FTX some $10 billion, as FTX had lent funds placed on the exchange for trading to Alameda so that Alameda could make investments with the money On 12 November, anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal said Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison disclosed to other Alameda employees that she, Sam Bankman-Fried, Gary Wang, and Nishad Singh knew that client deposits were transferred from FTX to Alameda An anonymous source cited by the New York Times on 14 November said the same According to the sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, Ellison said the funds were used in part to pay back loans Alameda had taken to make investments

Though Bankman-Fried said on Twitter on 10 November that FTXUS customers did not have reason to worry, employees began attempting to sell assets belonging to the firm on the same day These assets include stock-clearing company Embed Financial Technologies and the naming rights to FTX Arena

On 10 November, the Securities Commission of the Bahamas froze the assets of one of FTX’s subsidiaries, FTX Digital Markets Ltd, “and related parties”, and provisionally appointed an attorney as liquidator Japan’s Financial Services Agency ordered FTX Japan to suspend some operations The company’s Australian subsidiary was placed under administration

On 10 November, the team running the FTX Future Fund, a charitable group bankrolled by Bankman-Fried, announced that they had resigned earlier that day Future Fund had committed $160 million in charitable grants and investments by 1 September of that year

On 11 November, FTX, FTXUS, Alameda Research, and more than 100 affiliates filed for bankruptcy in Delaware Anonymous sources cited by the New York Times said that the exchange owes as much as $8 billion The crypto lender BlockFi, which was affiliated with FTX, announced on 10 November that it was suspending operations as a result of FTX’s collapse Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO and was replaced by John J Ray III, a corporate restructuring specialist who previously oversaw the liquidation of Enron As of 12 November, Bankman-Fried told Reuters that he was still in the Bahamas, though other high-ranking FTX employees had begun leaving for Hong Kong, the location of the company’s former headquarters, or other locations Authorities in the Bahamas, including the Royal Bahamas Police Force, questioned Bankman-Fried on 12 November Despite FTX’s bankruptcy, Bankman-Fried continued to attempt to raise money for the firm during the weekend of 12 and 13 November

Late on 11 November, some $473 million in funds were removed from FTX through what Ryne Miller, FTX US’s general counsel, characterized as “unauthorized transactions” Miller further announced that FTX and FTX US intended to move remaining funds denominated in cryptocurrency to offline “cold storage” The funds taken from FTX were mostly stablecoins such as Tether, and were quickly exchanged for Ether, a method used by cryptocurrency thieves to thwart attempts to retrieve stolen funds A person speaking on behalf of FTX in a Telegram chat referred to the “unauthorized transactions” as a “hack” and encouraged users to delete FTX mobile apps as they were compromised Kraken has since announced its assistance in identifying the perpetrator On 14 November, Kraken’s chief security officer said on Twitter that the firm knew “the identity” of a user who paid transaction fees associated with moving the stolen money through their Kraken account In an interview with Kelsey Piper published 16 November by Vox, Bankman-Fried blamed an “ex-employee” or malware on a device owned by an ex-employee for the theft

Between $1 billion and $2 billion in customer funds reportedly could not be accounted for as of 12 November The Financial Times reported that FTX’s balance sheet shortly before the bankruptcy showed $9 billion in liabilities, with assets comprising $900 million in liquid assets, $5 billion in “less liquid” assets, and $32 billion in illiquid private equity investments

Bankman-Fried began publishing “cryptic” messages in sequence on Twitter on 14 November As of 15 November, the messages read “What HAPPENED”

On 15 November, FTX sought to raise $10 billion in liquidity from investors

On 17 November, John J Ray, III, the CEO brought in as a liquidator stated in a sworn declaration submitted in bankruptcy court that according to FTX’s records, its subsidiary Alameda Research had lent $1 billion to Bankman-Fried and more than $500 million to FTX co-founder Nishad Singh as of 30 September Ray stated that despite having been involved in the bankruptcies of Enron, Residential Capital, Nortel and Overseas Shipholding, “Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented”

Widening impact and contagion fears

The exchange token of Cryptocom, Cronos, lost approximately $1 billion in value in November, a decline attributed in part due to the collapse of FTX and in part due to reporting that Cryptocom had accidentally sent $400 million of Ether to another exchange On 14 November, Cryptocom’s CEO assured users that the exchange was functioning as normal Commenters and customers remained fearful that Cryptocom could experience a collapse similar to FTX

BlockFi, a cryptocurrency lender, was reportedly taking steps to file for bankruptcy as of 15 November The firm had earlier begun preventing withdrawals The company disclosed “significant exposure” to FTX on 14 November Another cryptocurrency lender, Genesis, a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, halted withdrawals on 16 November This halt caused Gemini, an exchange owned by the Winklevoss twins, to cease allowing redemptions for clients using a service provided through a partnership with Genesis Another Digital Currency Group subsidiary, Grayscale, saw the value of its flagship offering, the publicly traded Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, decline by 20% over the two weeks preceding 17 November Grayscale Bitcoin Trust was trading at a discounted price, 42% below the value of its Bitcoin, as of 14 November

Concerns have also been raised about Silvergate Bank, as FTX was a depositor and could have also been a source of credit exposure Silvergate has said that it has ample liquidity and no loan exposure to FTX These concerns have been magnified due to Silvergate’s key role as a gateway between its cryptocurrency clients and the wider financial world

Responses and effects

Effects on investors

Institutional investors that stand to lose money due to their stakes in FTX include Tiger Global Management, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, SoftBank Group, BlackRock, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Temasek, and Sequoia Capital Sequoia Capital wrote down its equity in FTX to $0 on 9 November, losing some $214 million Sequoia released a notice to investors, also published on Twitter, assuring them the firm’s stake in FTX represented a small amount of its overall portfolio, and replaced a profile of Bankman-Fried published on the firm’s website with a link to the same notice The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan released a similar statement Temasek later wrote down its investment on 16 November Several public figures also invested in FTX or received compensation for promoting the company These include former couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, as well as Shaquille O’Neal, Stephen Curry, and Kevin O’Leary

Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital, announced the firm was attempting to buy back a 30% stake in the business owned by FTX

Effects on other cryptocurrency firms and cryptocurrency markets

Cryptocurrency investment firms with assets still held on FTX after its bankruptcy include Galois Capital and Galaxy Digital

Cryptocurrencies experienced swings and declines in value as news of FTX’s collapse first emerged in early November: Tether dropped below its peg price of $100 to $097 and Bitcoin sank to its lowest price in two years Share prices for publicly traded cryptocurrency companies declined The price of Solana, which was affiliated with Bankman-Fried, declined as well The crisis at FTX has inspired an increase in withdrawals from other exchanges A decline in the value of Cronos, the token of exchange Cryptocom, triggered fears of the potential for a collapse similar to that of FTX and spurred withdrawals from the platform CEO Kris Marszalek provided assurances that the firm was liquid and that it did not use Cronos in a manner similar to the way FTX used FTT Bloomberg reported that the collapse of FTX exacerbated institutional skepticism of cryptocurrencies as an asset class

Responses and commentary

Jim Chanos predicted the collapse of FTX would lead to increased scrutiny and regulation of cryptocurrencies Chanos further criticized the cryptocurrency sector as “designed to extract fees from really unsuspecting investors” Richard Handler, CEO of American financial firm Jefferies Group, tweeted on 10 November that he had attempted to meet with Bankman-Fried in July and again in September as he perceived he was “in over his head” Handler stated that Bankman-Fried did not respond to the emails sent from Jefferies staff sent on Handler’s behalf The sudden collapse of FTX has been compared to bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers by writers in publications including The New York Times and the Financial Times Lawrence Summers acknowledged the comparisons to Lehman and further compared the collapse to the Enron scandal, caused by fraud perpetrated by Enron executives Rostin Behnam, the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, called for Congress to grant the organization more power to regulate cryptocurrencies

Lawsuits and legal involvement

Following the collapse of FTX, the Royal Bahamas Police Force launched a criminal investigation into the company

Anonymous sources cited by Bloomberg said that the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York had begun an investigation into FTX’s collapse as of 14 November

The United States House Committee on Financial Services plans to conduct hearings in December on the collapse of FTX, and committee leaders said they would seek testimony from Bankman-Fried According to anonymous sources cited by The Information, some venture capital firms are considering suing Bankman-Fried

Sponsorships

The FTX Arena in Miami, Florida

FTX sponsored a number of sports teams and organizations Deals included the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s basketball stadium, renaming it FTX Arena, a partnership with Major League Baseball to place the FTX logo on the uniforms of umpires, and a deal with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to add the FTX logo to the cars and uniforms of both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

Other sponsorships included the title sponsorships of the first season of MLB Home Run Derby X, and the title sponsorship of the tournaments FTX Road to Miami and FTX Crypto Cup as part of the Champions Chess Tour 2022

Following the bankruptcy of FTX in November 2022, both the Mercedes—AMG Petronas F1 Team and the Miami Heat cut ties with the company, with the latter also announcing that they would be seeking a new naming rights partner for the FTX Arena

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