Sam Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old co-founder and chief executive of global cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has lost his multibillionaire status after his net worth plummeted 94 per cent in a single day, as cryptocurrencies tumbled on the news that his company was on the verge of bankruptcy, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Mr Bankman-Fried, who had a personal fortune of $16 billion earlier this week, is now worth about $991.5 million in what is being described as the biggest one-day loss on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The collapse of Mr Bankman-Fried’s net worth came after billionaire crypto rival Changpeng Zhao, chief executive of Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, fuelled speculation about the financial health of FTX in a tweet on Sunday, which snowballed into $6bn of withdrawals from the exchange in the 72 hours before Tuesday morning, Reuters reported.
“Liquidating our FTT is just post-exit risk management, learning from Luna. We gave support before, but we won’t pretend to make love after divorce,” Mr Zhao said in the tweet on Sunday.
“We are not against anyone. But we won’t support people who lobby against other industry players behind their backs. Onwards.”
On Tuesday, Mr Zhao reversed his position and said he had signed a non-binding agreement to buy FTX’s non-US trading unit to help cover a “liquidity crunch” at the rival exchange, Reuters reported.
On Wednesday night, however, Mr Zhao had pulled out of the deal to bail out FTX, causing the crypto market to tumble — along with their fortunes.
At the height of his wealth, Mr Bankman-Fried, known as "SBF", had a personal fortune of $24bn and was ranked as the world’s second-wealthiest crypto billionaire by Forbes magazine in its annual wealthiest list released in April.
Mr Zhao’s net worth has plummeted by $80.9bn this year. He is now worth $14.9bn, after another $1.48bn was erased from his fortune on Wednesday, and is the world’s 98th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
This year’s “crypto winter” has been exacerbated by the collapse of so-called stablecoin TerraUSD and its sister token Luna, as well as the bankruptcy filing of US cryptocurrency lending platform Celsius Network.
In June, Bitcoin dropped below the key $20,000 level for the first time since December 2020, while about $2 trillion has been wiped from the market value of cryptocurrencies since late last year, according to data compiled by CoinGecko.
As of 10.30am UAE time on Thursday, Bitcoin had plummeted to a 23-month low of $16,602.45, while Ethereum was trading at $1,173.14, according to CoinDesk data. FTT — FTX's utility token — is down more than 90 per cent this week and was trading at $3.
Last November, Bitcoin was trading at an all-time high of $68,000.
In response to Binance’s decision to pull out of the deal, Mr Bankman-Fried told FTX investors that the crypto exchange faced a shortfall of up to $8bn and needed $4bn to remain solvent, Bloomberg reported.
“Watching what used to be the world’s fourth-biggest crypto exchange go under the water triggered panic across the sector,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, said on Thursday.
“[This is] getting investors to question whether FTX is an isolated case, or if this is just the tip of the iceberg, and if and how many of the cryptocurrency exchanges may have similar insolvency problems that are only waiting to get revealed,” Ms Ozkardeskaya said.
“No one can tell you exactly what will happen from here, but the downside risks prevail, with the risk of FTX not being saved by investors.”
Mr Bankman-Fried co-founded FTX with Gary Wang in 2019. He also founded Alameda Research in 2017, a crypto trading company.
“Most of his wealth is tied up in tokens and his ownership stake of FTX, and his assets have been described as 'of speculative value' and ‘illiquid’,” according to Celebrity Net Worth, which tracks the wealth and finances of the rich and famous.
“In 2021, a screenshot of his digital wallet reportedly showed $10bn in digital coins. However, it was also reported that $5bn in coins were ‘locked’ and not available for conversion. In addition, $4bn of those coins were issued by FTX.”
Mr Bankman-Fried has a 53 per cent stake in FTX, which was worth about $6.2bn, while another $7.4 billion of his fortune came from Alameda Research, Bloomberg reported.
Mr Zhao, also known as “CZ”, owns an estimated 70 per cent of Binance.