Jan 20, 2023 - Economy

FTX wants a do-over as SBF keeps talking

Photo illustration of Sam Bankman-Fried with speech bubbles.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rumors of FTX’s demise may have been exaggerated, with the platform’s new CEO suggesting he may hit the restart button in spite of its stunning collapse.

Meanwhile, FTX's criminally charged founder won't stop talking.

Driving the news: In a Wall Street Journal interview, new FTX CEO John J. Ray III said he's working with a task force that could revive FTX.com. Coincidentally, Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX’s disgraced former CEO, recently insisted the U.S.-based platform was fully solvent, and "always has been."

Why it matters: For every spectacular failure like Enron, WorldCom and Lehman Brothers, there's a business that mounts a comeback, like General Motors, Texaco (now part of Chevron), and Marvel (which now cranks out billion-dollar movie properties under Disney).

  • A bankruptcy filing can buy a company breathing room to reinvent itself. While it usually means the end of one era, a select few have emerged, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old.

Yes, but: The cryptocurrency market is still in the throes of an ugly correction.

The FTX brand is inextricably bound to a founder who won't stay out of the news despite being charged criminally and keeps using digital media to remind the public about how badly he fumbled.

What they're saying: Prolific apologias aside, some legal experts following the case are convinced SBF is "finished," regardless of what happens next to FTX.

  • William O. Wagstaff III, a criminal defense attorney and special prosecutor for the city of Mount Vernon, told Axios last month that a fair trial appears increasingly improbable, especially given the subject's refusal to remain silent.
  • "In the one in a million chance there is a viable defense, the potential jury pool is so poisoned…the jurors are just nodding their heads," Wagstaff said. "They come into this pre-determined that he’s guilty, and [have] animosity of how much money he made, unless he got a jury of hedge-funders."
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