Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of Social Capital, had this to say about FTX and its founder Samuel Banckman-Fried (SPF), whose financial machinations caused the $32 billion crypto exchange to go bankrupt and its clients to lose at least $1 billion: “He pitched us in that $17 billion round and I did a zoom with him. After it, I said it didn’t make much sense, but I asked the team to do some work. We did that and sent him a two-page document and said, “Here are our recommendations for the next step. The first is to form a board of directors. The second is the creation of two classes of stock. The third is some safeguards on affiliated transactions.” And the person who works there called us back and literally, I’m not kidding, said: “Go f$%k yourself.”
You could say Chamath got off cheap. Unlike 80 other investors who have invested over $2 billion in FTX over 2 years. This story will teach many lessons as each day reveals new details of the scams and the bottom is yet to be seen. Amazingly, respected investors like Sequoia Capital, Insight Partners and Black Rock dutifully agreed to Samuel’s ultimatum conditions and did not join the board of directors, which actually consisted of Samuel, an FTX employee and a lawyer. Why did this happen? Perhaps the answer is the same as it was during the Tulipmanomania in the Netherlands four centuries ago. Greed and fear of missing out on a super-profitable deal turn off even the smartest and most experienced professionals’ judgment and push them to take self-destructive steps.
Entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant once said: “Negotiations are won by whoever cares less.” Consequently, if one desperately wants to negotiate a deal, the other doesn’t even have to bother — the first will squeeze himself out. And his high IQ will only help to justify his fateful decision in a more sophisticated way. A man can defeat any external threats and circumstances, but then easily fall prey to his own passions. Stories like this one only reinforce the idea that the main work each of us must do within ourselves.
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