Nov 29, 2022 - Economy

Sam Bankman-Fried doesn't know what happened to his Twitter stake

Photo illustration of Sam Bankman-Fried with hair made out of Twitter logos.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried tells Axios that he always intended to roll over at least a portion of his former firm's $100 million Twitter stake into the new, privately held entity led by Elon Musk.

  • But the former FTX CEO said in an interview on Monday night that he's not sure that ever happened with the Alameda Research-controlled stake.

Why it matters: It's the first time Bankman-Fried has addressed the question around his Twitter stake since Musk said last week that neither Bankman-Fried nor FTX ever held a position in the privatized Twitter, a statement that contradicted a Semafor news report.

  • Alameda Research, the entity that Bankman-Fried said owned the Twitter stake, is the trading firm that he controlled and is the entity at the center of FTX's implosion. A text message seen by Axios that Bankman-Fried sent to Musk said the Twitter stake Alameda owned was worth around $100 million.

Details: "I believe that it was intended for Alameda to roll over at least $20 million or more," Bankman-Fried told Axios. "I don't know for sure whether that ultimately happened."

  • Bankman-Fried noted that at least some of the Twitter stake may have been sold prior to Twitter going private, but he could not confirm.

Background: Bankman-Fried, through his advisers, had offered to help Musk buy out Twitter in the spring with potentially billions of dollars. But he later backed out of his offer after the two spoke by phone, Axios previously reported.

  • Bankman-Fried said at the time that he was interested in rolling the stake into the privatized company, with Musk acknowledging that Bankman-Fried was "welcome to roll."

The intrigue: The Twitter stake was listed on a Nov. 10 balance sheet shown to prospective FTX investors before the company went bankrupt, according to the Financial Times.

  • The balance sheet, upon which Semafor also relied for its reporting, listed $43.3 million of Twitter stock as an illiquid deliverable — or sellable — asset.
  • That suggests that Bankman-Fried, as of Nov. 10, either believed that Alameda owned a stake in Musk's Twitter, or that he was uncertain, and therefore misleading potential investors.

Read more from this interview in tomorrow's Axios Pro Fintech Deals

Go deeper:

Exclusive: Sam Bankman-Fried says he's down to $100,000

Judge in FTX case grants privacy to customers, for now

FTX starts bankruptcy proceedings and Bankman-Fried resigns as CEO

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