RIP FTX. The company announced Friday morning that they were starting Chapter 11, AKA reorganizational bankruptcy proceedings. In addition, CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s other crypto firm, Alameda Research and Weste Realm Shires Services, which is also known as FTX.US, are also tangled up in the proceedings.
The 30-year-old supposed wunderkind Bankman-Fried, once considered one of the top minds in the crypto sphere, also announced he was vacating his chair as CEO, and that John Ray III is stepping up as head honcho. According to the official press release, “Many employees of the FTX Group in various countries are expected to continue” during the bankruptcy proceedings.
As of now, most FTX users were still unable to withdraw their funds from the exchange. In the release, Ray said “stakeholders should understand that events have been fast-moving and the new team is engaged only recently,” though he did promise every stakeholder they will go forward with “thoroughness and transparency.” That’s probably not much comfort for the thousands of FTX users who had millions of dollars in crypto stored on the FTX exchange.
How did this all start? A report from CoinDesk made it clear that FTX had been effectively printing money using its own FTT crypto token to prop up Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s own crypto trading firm. A Thursday report from The Wall Street Journal clarified that FTX had used customer’s money to fund their own trading endeavors. Of the $16 billion customer assets under FTX’s control, Bankman-Fried reportedly leant half of that amount over to Alameda so it could engage in risky crypto investments. Throughout 2022, Bankman-Fried had been propping up other failing crypto firms and buying up the assets of failed ventures like Voyager and Celsius.
Once its rival crypto exchange Binance dumped its stock of FTT, the price of the exchange’s native coin plummeted, resulting in FTX faceplanting into a multi-billion dollar hole that it has not been able to pull itself out of.
It’s gone from bad to worse for what was once the third-largest crypto exchange by market cap. Late on Thursday, the Bahamas, where FTX was based out of, announced its Securities Commission had frozen all of FTX’s assets. According to an official release, the country also suspended the company’s official registration.
“The Commission is aware of public statements suggesting that clients’ assets were mishandled, mismanaged and/or transferred to Alameda Research. Based on the Commission’s information, any such actions would have been contrary to normal governance, without client consent and potentially unlawful,” the Securities Commission wrote.
Bankman-Fried has put the blame on his own shoulders, saying “I fucked up, and should have done better.” He also said he overestimated the margins for how much users had on FTX. As much as he might be placing the blame on himself, that still won’t stop the U.S. Department of Justice and The Securities and Exchange Commission from investigating whether FTX’s lending products were securities, and whether the exchange broke any laws.
BlockFi is Caught Up in FTX’s Failure
Just like the collapse of the Terra stablecoin seven months ago, the calamity befalling the once-hailed crypto exchange FTX is set to take down multiple leaders of the crypto lending space. Late on Thursday, crypto lending platform BlockFi announced they were halting withdrawals.
The company tweeted they were keeping all crypto on their platform “until there is further clarity” from the ongoing collapse of once-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto firms FTX and Alameda Research. The company also begged users to not do any more crypto deposits on their BlockFi wallets until they could somehow, some way, sort out this mess.
“We, like the rest of the world, found out about this situation through Twitter,” the company wrote.
In its second quarter earnings report, BlockFi said they had $3.9 billion in client assets housed under their roof, though of course the price of crypto fluctuates so rapidly it’s hard to tell just how much crypto might be squirreled away. An unnamed source with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that BlockFi was working to move its assets over to FTX for custody, though the majority hadn’t yet been transferred. The company had also given loans to Alameda, though the source did not specify how much.
Earlier during this ongoing crypto winter, BlockFi cut 20% of its staff from all parts of its company. Later that same month, FTX handed the exchange $250 million in credit to keep itself afloat. At the time, FTX’s CEO Bankman-Fried said his company was “partnering” with BlockFi “so they can navigate the market from a position of strength.” In a Twitter thread, he further elaborated that BlockFi was acting preemptively to gain new cash flows “before it was necessary.”
A Few Crypto Folks Considered Propping Up FTX
Binance and its CEO Chenpeng Zhao were originally set to buy out FTX, but after looking at its rival’s balance sheets and apparently smelling something not quite right, Binance tanked the deal. Justin Sun, the founder of Tron and its cryptocurrencies such as TRX JUST, then stepped up to potentially prop up the failing company. Sun told Bloomberg on Friday that they might be ready to provide a multi-billion dollar influx of aid to help the beleaguered FTX.
Sun had already struck a deal with FTX that allowed its token holders to withdraw their funds to external wallets, even though the exchange is still ostensibly closed to withdrawals. Earlier this morning, Tron’s tokens were selling at an enormous premium on FTX as users worked to get their tokens off the sinking ship that is Bankman-Fried’s prized exchange, according to a report from CoinTelegraph.