Et tu, bean bag?
Bean Bag Bombshell
There's no doubt that the mythology of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried — who's currently on trial in New York City defending himself against a slew of very serious criminal fraud charges — was integral to the mythology of FTX itself, the now-bankrupt crypto exchange once valued at a staggering $32 billion.
The young crypto founder held an investor-fascinating, Forbes-cover-worthy reputation as an unkempt wunderkind: a socially awkward, late-20-something genius who only ever wore shorts and t-shirts and had a penchant for sleeping on his office bean bag chair, all the while recruiting celebrities like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen to promote his venture and imploring Congress to regulate cryptocurrencies.
The alleged bean bag habit was a particular point of fascination, and was oft-referenced in support of SBF's apparent workaholism — a trait that other notable tech entrepreneurs, from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates to Elon Musk, have been said to share. Indeed, a Bloomberg profile of Bankman-Fried, penned just months before the exchange's disastrous implosion, illustrates this sleep-by-the-desk-commitment trope in full color:
Off camera, the detritus of someone who more or less lives at work litters his desk: crumpled bills from the US and Hong Kong, nine tubes of lip balm, a stick of deodorant, a 1.5‑pound canister of sea salt labeled 'SBF's salt shaker,' and an open packet of chickpea korma that he had for lunch the day before. The beanbag where his assistant says he sleeps most weekdays is so close he could practically roll onto it.
In a fresh turn of betrayal, however, SBF's bean bag habit may have been an exaggeration. As The Verge reported yesterday, SBF's former FTX colleague and old college roommate, Adam Yedidia, testified that SBF would take "occasional naps" on his Bahamian bean bag, "but not with much frequency." Et tu, bean bag?
To be clear, Yedidia wasn't on the stand to specifically testify about bean bag sleeping arrangements. In his testimony, per the Verge, SBF's former friend told the court that the founder expressed a lack of confidence in FTX's health as early as late June or early July last year, several months before the firm collapsed into financial ruin.
"We were bulletproof last year," SBF allegedly told Yedida as the pair played summertime "padel tennis," — no, that's not a typo — "but we're not bulletproof anymore."
Which, of course, is a far more legally serious accusation than the bean bag thing, though the sleeping arrangement allegation is fascinating all the same. After all, FTX built SBF as much as SBF built FTX. And as the genius myth of the young ex-billionaire continues to disintegrate, so too does our understanding of how the now-defunct exchange was ever worth so much in the first place.
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