I am drowning in Sam. He is everywhere. And unlike other CEOs who have experienced a similar colossal dewinding, Sam doesn’t come at me through journalists looking up his past.

This deluge is not him. He will not stop. It’s like he’s unable to stop. How can I tell the story about FTX through the noise he makes? That’s Sam Bankman Fried. SBF is that nasally, overly-informed voice who won’t quit offering his version in his statistically tinted mysticism.

You are reading these words at the midway point of this book. It’s December 1. As my workday ended at Axios (the internet-native media site), I tried to squeeze in some research time on the companies that Alameda Research has backed. But then, on Slack, I saw that SBF, who was the crypto-wonder who lost a few billion dollars, was hosting a Twitter Spaces. Spaces is a place where people who are far from Twitter can talk online, without video. They only use voice. Thousands of other users will just listen and interact with a few emoticons. Spaces is a popular way for large accounts to broadcast. SBF has been all about broadcasting since late November, and will be here in early December, 2022.

Brady Dale, an author of a recently published book, said that he wrote most of it in the weeks immediately following the collapse of FTX. (Wiley)

This was after SBF made an appearance on the morning show with George Stephanopoulous. I hadn’t watched it yet. After a New York Times Internet broadcast with Andrew Ross Sorkin that I haven’t yet watched. I’m the only media person I know who hasn’t seen it. I’m too busy with writing my book to watch something I knew was there and will be when I’m ready. I will watch it later. Now he’s talking to random Twitter faux-investigators in a wannabe Barbara Walters interview I have the misfortune to hear.

I listened to the Spaces a bit, but more for aggravation rather than information. He was over-exposed. I’m drowning.

Sam won’t stop coming. This deluge has been dubbed the “masterpiece of public relations” by flaks who have been trained in dark arts.

This view is from PR’s clients, or perhaps witnesses. This was not PR. This was not PR. It’s a maelstrom of pointless, banal pellets. I’m trying to take a few deep breaths and rely on my observations. The smell and taste of PR is risk aversion. SBF did not do that.

This was him. This torrent was born out of his need. Sam was the only one who could have done this.

Sam, you’re a jerk!

I am drowning in Sam.

– Dec. 1, 2022

Chapter 1: I Want to Believe

Sam Bankman-Fried told a story you wanted to believe. The boy billionaire with the talkative personality who turned cryptocurrency’s wealth-creation engine into a war chest of robber barons to fix the world.

Who doesn’t love libraries like Andrew Carnegie? It was in my small hometown in Southeast Kansas. It’s beautiful.

Andrew Carnegie, for example, paid for these libraries by hiring thugs who would bust unionized employees trying to negotiate for a better contract. As it turns out, not great. Some of our grandparents had to pay for these libraries through lost wages.

SBF would not create a war chest using anything as nasty as air pollution-belching plants and dangerous working conditions. SBF would create its war chest off the internet. It would scratch wealth like solid gold paint from space money that bounces around a thing called a Blockchain. Blockchains are not real. They don’t seem to leave industrial scars on people’s back yards.

What harm would it do if someone good could make a fortune off of that money and help many people?

SBF was a very appealing experience. Many people were sucked in. I was sucked in – I thought he really believed what he said. Bonnie Tyler sang the song in 1984 and we feel just like he did back then. We’re all waiting for a superhero.

I’ll ask you a question. What if SBF never had a chance at saving the world in the way it should have?

What if this was the last hero that anyone could ever need?

What if the real lesson of SBF was that no one needs a hero?