Last week, Sam Bankman-Fried dropped $45 million to buy a 30% stake in Skybridge Capital, the hedge fund run by Anthony Scaramucci. This week, Bankman-Fried failed to show up for the annual SALT conference in New York — SkyBridge’s biggest event of the year.
Last year, the 30-year-old billionaire was a fixture at SALT — pressing the flesh as he promoted his cryptocurrency exchange FTX to countless investors and reporters. But this week, Bankman-Fried wasn’t able to make the trip from his residence in the Bahamas, according to a source.
Instead, Bankman-Fried made a virtual appearance — despite the fact that his crypto firm FTX was the key sponsor of this week’s conference. Earlier this year, FTX and SkyBridge launched a crypto only event, FTX Bahamas.
“It’s weird — if Bankman-Fried was at SALT the deal would have been the news of the conference,” one conference goer said. “You would think he would show up to boost his investment and a show of support.”
Meanwhile, insiders noted SALT’s proceedings this week at the Javits Center in New York were noticeably less focused on crypto than last year, although web3, and NFTs remained a topic of panel discussions. Indeed, one person involved in persuading people to register told The Post, “I had to assure potential attendees it wouldn’t be as crypto heavy this year as it was last year.”
Scaramucci — who famously did a 10-day stint as former President Trump’s communications chief — is still bullish on cryptocurrency despite his crypto-focused funds plummeting this year as digital assets tank, according to reports.
Scaramucci said in a statement to The Post not to “overly read into” Bankman-Fried’s absence — and that FTX was well represented with lots of personnel there. “I think the investment he just made is statement enough,” Scaramucci added.
FTX declined to comment.
Legion Strategies, one of SkyBridge’s heavily crypto focused funds is down roughly 30% this year. In July, Skybridge had to suspend withdrawals from the $230 million Legion Strategies fund, according to a Bloomberg report. More than 20% of the fund is in cryptocurrency related investments. According to a July report in DealBook, the $2 billion SkyBridge flagship fund is facing almost $900 million in withdrawals.
While this week’s event nabbed heavy hitters — including Todd Boehly, the Californi billionaire wbho just bought FS Chelsea — it lacked many of the household hedge fund names the conference is usually known for.
Last year’s speaker roster included financial titans like Point72’s Steven Cohen, Third Point’s Dan Loeb, Avenue’s Marc Lasry, and ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood.
Of course, as the market volatility continues, many investors may be much more focused on keeping their funds afloat than opining about NFTs at conferences.
One financier who chose to skip this year quipped, “For most investors, it’s not a great time to be bragging about your performance.”
Bankman-Fried, 30, is worth an estimated $12.4 billion according to Forbes and has become a sort of crypto savior during the massive slump in digital coins. He provided BlockFi, a crypto bank, with $250 million in credit and committed $500 million to bail out crypto brokerage Voyager Digital over the summer as the crypto market tanked.
“It’s odd Bankman-Fried wasn’t there… but it’s only a $45 million deal,” the conference goer added.