The confessions of SBF
Image: Michael M. Santiago / Getty

The confessions of SBF

Source Code

Good morning! You might expect the former CEO of FTX, a company whose bankruptcy has been compared to that of Lehman Brothers and Enron, would want to keep quiet. But Sam Bankman-Fried does not want to be quiet. Let’s dig into what he had to say yesterday.

The confessions of SBF

Against the advice of his lawyers, Sam Bankman-Fried sat down in front of a webcam in the Bahamas yesterday to talk with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times. Dressed in a black t-shirt and sipping a can of LaCroix, he spoke for over an hour about what has happened to FTX, Alameda, and the billions of dollars with which they were entrusted.

The full transcript of the interview is well worth a read, but we’ve picked out some choice cuts.

On whether his lawyers were approving of his desire to speak publicly:

  • “No. They are very much not. The classic advice, right: Don’t say anything. Recede into a hole. And that’s not who I am. It’s not who I want to be. I think I have a duty to talk to people … I don’t see what good is accomplished by me just sitting locked in a room pretending the outside world doesn’t exist.”

On the situation writ large:

  • “Look, I screwed up. I was CEO I was the CEO of FTX. And I say this again and again that it means I had a responsibility, and I was responsible ultimately for us doing the right things and didn’t. We messed up big.”

On whether he’s considered criminal liability:

  • “It sounds weird to say it, but I think the real answer is it’s not what I’m focusing on … There’s going to be a time and a place for me to think about myself and my own future. But I don’t think this is it.”

On his future:

  • “I don’t know what’s going to happen. A lot is not in my hands at this point. I want to be helpful wherever I can to regulators, administrators, internationally, who are working to help FTX’s customers.”

On his current financial health:

  • “I don’t have any hidden funds here. Everything I have I am disclosing and I am down to — I think I have one working credit card left. I think it might be $100,000 or something like that in that bank account. Everything I had, even all the loans I had — those were all things I was reinvesting in the businesses that I put everything I had into FTX.”

On his reported drug use:

  • “There were no wild parties here. When we had parties were we played board games … I have been prescribed various things at various times to help with focus and concentration … that I think on the margin help me focus a little bit.”

On whether he’s ever lied about FTX:

  • “I don’t know of times when I lied. Look, there are times when I, certainly times when I was acting as a representative, as a marketer for FTX and when I was looking for how can I — in a way which is truthful — paint FTX in as a compelling way as possible.”

Bye bye, Bret Taylor

Exactly a year after he was promoted to the position of co-CEO at Salesforce, Bret Taylor announced that he’s departing the company.

Marc Benioff pulled Taylor close after Salesforce acquired his startup Quip in 2016. Taylor became COO at Salesforce, and then was elevated to co-CEO on Nov. 30, 2021.

  • Benioff called Taylor “a phenomenal industry leader” when he was made co-CEO, adding that he had been “instrumental in creating incredible success for our customers and driving innovation throughout our company.”

Taylor is leaving to return to his “entrepreneurial roots,” he wrote in a statement.

  • “While there’s absolutely no easy time for a transition like this, I do now feel like it’s time to return to my entrepreneurial roots particularly given the landscape and economy going through such shifts,” Taylor said on an analyst call yesterday.
  • Taylor previously worked on Google Maps in the early 2000s, sold a startup called FriendFeed to Facebook, and built the productivity software startup Quip.
  • Benioff expressed his gratitude on the investor call: “We have to let him be free, let him go, and I understand, but I don’t like it. And Bret, you know that you’re always going to be our brother. We love you deeply, you have a home here.”

But is this becoming a trend? Keith Block left the position of co-CEO at Salesforce in Feb. 2020 after just 18 months in the role, having previously been in the role of COO.

  • Benioff has previously said that he likes the “divide and conquer strategy” that the co-CEO setup provides.
  • For now, Benioff will be the lone CEO at Salesforce. There’s been no word yet on plans for a new co-CEO, though if previous transitions are anything to go by then current COO Brian Millham is presumably fidgeting in his Aeron.

People are talking

Elon Musk seems to have made up with Tim Cook:

  • “Thanks @tim_cook for taking me around Apple’s beautiful HQ. Good conversation. Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store.”

But Mark Zuckerberg joined in with the criticism of Apple’s walled garden:

  • “Apple has sort of singled themselves out as the only company that is trying to control, like unilaterally, what apps get on a device. I don’t think that’s a sustainable or good place to be.”

And so did Spotify CEO Daniel Ek:

  • “Over and over again, Apple gives itself every advantage while at the same time stifling innovation and hurting consumers. Apple acts in self interest but also doesn’t seem to care about the law or courts.”

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings thinks the company should’ve started running ads sooner:

  • "I wish we had flipped a few years earlier on it."

Making moves

Crypto exchange Kraken laid off 1,100 employees, or about 30% of its workforce, “in order to adapt to current market conditions,” CEO Jesse Powell wrote.

John Stauffer is leaving Apple for Roblox, where he will be a vice president of engineering. At Apple, he was in charge of media-related software technology.

Meta is subleasing part of its Hudson Yard office space in New York, Bloomberg reported. It took on 1.5 million square feet of office space there in 2019.

In other news

Neuralink will be ready for human testing in six months according to Elon Musk. It is working on helping disabled patients to move and communicate, and is now also targeting restoration of vision. Wired’s Emily Mullin has a good close look at how the technology is evolving.

Amazon will warn customers about the limits of its AI, including details about bias, privacy and other ethics issues in publicly available information akin to nutrition labels.

TSMC plans to make more advanced chips in the U.S. after being urged to do so by Apple, according to Bloomberg.

SpaceX has been accused of age discrimination by a former employee who posted a long essay on the whistle-blowing platform Lioness describing the problems he encountered at the company.

Cruise wants to test cars with no controls — yep, that means no steering wheel — on the roads of San Francisco.

There’s a Senate hearing on FTX today, and Rostin Behnam, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is expected to be grilled on whether tighter regulation could have prevented the company’s failure.

The Chamber of Commerce pushed back against an EU plan that would make it harder for non-EU cloud vendors to provide services for EU governments.

LastPass has suffered a data breach that exposed “certain elements” of customer information.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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