Can the “Steve Jobs” of Crypto Defeat Coinbase and Ethereum

Wonder who is shaking things up in the proverbial crypto arena? Meet Sam Bankman-Fried, a 29-year old visionary and crypto billionaire who is taking the crypto world by storm, and shows no signs of slowing down. 

Nicknamed the “Steve Jobs of crypto”, Bankman-Fried’s journey started in late 2017 when he moved to Hong Kong to establish FTX due to tricky US regulations which outlawed complex cryptocurrency products. “Built for traders by traders,” FTX is unlike any crypto exchange out there and is increasingly being seen as the one true challenger to the two most dominant platforms in cryptocurrency: Coinbase and Ethereum. It most recently raised $900 million in series B financing, suggesting a valuation of a staggering $18 billion. Amid the crypto boom, FTX managed to rake in $400 billion in April of 2021, becoming one of the top digital asset exchanges globally despite being just a few years old. 

FTX is known for its offering of sophisticated derivative products including futures, options, and leveraged tokens. It also offers what is referred to as “tokenized stocks,” digital tokens that track share prices of companies, giving investors the ability to trade around the clock since the crypto market never closes. But despite the fact that it predominantly caters to foreign investors, FTX has started capturing the hearts and minds of US investors through the world of sports. 

Most recently, FTX announced it would be sponsoring Major League Baseball (MLB), becoming the first cryptocurrency exchange to sponsor in professional US sports. As part of the deal, MLB umpire uniforms will have an FTX logo patch. Another noteworthy mark of building brand awareness, FTX bought 19-year naming rights to the home of the NBA’s Miami Heat for $135 million back in April. The stadium will be named FTX Arena for the 2021-2022 season. But it’s not all about passive product placement, the FTX team is made up of quants who understand the value of their name being megaphoned to the hundreds of millions of sports fans around the world, turning them into a household name. At the same time, FTX has managed to convert celebrity couple Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen into FTX die-hards as they both have taken an equity stake in crypto firm FTX as part of a long-term partnership. Clearly, the brand is set on becoming a name known around the world. 

 

And their foray into sports is not limited to the crypto world. Most recently, FTX ran a prediction market where people bet on things like the Tokyo Olympics and whether or not Donald Trump will become president in 2024. 

But FTX’s influence is not all surface, with Bankman-Fried’s know-how pushing forward some altcoins into success. In what is increasingly being referred to as “Sam Coins”, Bankman-Fried has fueled developer and investor interest in Solana (SOL) – led by Solana Labs – helping it become the home of DeFi 2.0 through the launch of a decentralized exchange (Serum – SRM) that’s powered by a truly unique automated market maker (Raydium – RAY). He has managed to bring these ambitious projects to life, helping push the blockchain and crypto world forward and building an empire along the way. 

Also keenly aware of the importance of mitigating compliance and regulations, FTX has gone all in by hiring the former lead counsel for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Ryne Miller as its general counsel. According to FTX, Miller will primarily be working “to ensure FTX.US remains responsive to, and compliant with, emerging U.S. and global regulatory policies”. This has raised suspicions of FTX’s potential plans to offer derivatives, something that is not currently possible under current regulations. Could Miller be the key to help Bankman-Fried bring FTX to the US? 

After we have mentioned it all, quite possibly the most noteworthy fact about Bankman-Fried is that he is committed to donating sizable amounts of earnings to charities and nonprofits, a feat that quickly helps him earn favor in the investing world. 

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