In the days since FTX’s collapse into bankruptcy, few — if any — public figures seem to have taken greater joy in the public shaming of Sam Bankman-Fried, the crypto exchange’s disgraced ex-CEO, than freshly minted Twitter owner Elon Musk.
Musk has used his newly purchased social site to post bizarre FTX memesapplauded himself for recognizing SBF’s apparent “bullshit” from day one, and even accused The New York Times of downplaying SBF’s alleged criminality, among other attacks.
“Everyone was talking about him like he’s walking on water and has a zillion dollars,” Musk said in a Twitter Spaces conversation on Nov 12, just a day after FTX’s bankruptcy was announced. “And that was not my impression… that dude is just — there’s something wrong, and he doesn’t have capital, and he won’t come through. That was my prediction.”
If that actually was Musk’s prediction, he was right. Bankman-Fried went from crypto golden boy to overnight pariah, losing virtually all his wealth in a single day.
But between self-lauding Twitter Spaces rants and notes on SBF’s “ineffective altruism,” Musk has conveniently left out one very big piece of information: that Bankman-Fried was an investor in Musk’s Twitter deal, and that Musk himself personally invited the FTX founder to buy in — his contribution amounted to a cool $100 million — to the agreement, as previously undisclosed texts reviewed by Semaphore have now revealed.
In other words, SBF — who Musk has been heavily firing shots at left and right — is actually the SpaceX CEO’s partner at Twitter.
Per Semaphore, the relationship goes back at least as far as March, when SBF’s advisor William MacAskill texted Musk to insist that a “joint effort” between the billionaires was possible. Each had their eye on acquiring control of the site, and MacAskill promised Musk that the FTX CEO was willing to contribute $3 billion towards a Twitter takeover. Later, Morgan Stanley bigwig Michael Grimes — Musk’s banker — would text his client that SBF was willing to pay upwards of $10 billion.
Importantly, though, this part of the story was already known. These messages, along with a bevy of others oft-cringeworthy textswere revealed during Musk’s court battle to renege on his offer to buy Twitter. Axios reported at the time that SBF had ultimately opted not to invest in the platform after speaking to Musk on the phone — although Musk had a different way of framing how that went down during that same Nov 12 Twitter Spaces chat.
“To be honest, I’d never heard of him. But then I got a ton of people telling me [that] he’s got, you know, huge amounts of money that he wants to invest in the Twitter deal. And I talked to him for about half an hour,” the “Chief Twit” told his users. “And I know my bulls**t meter was redlining. It was like, this dude is bulls**t — that was my impression.”
But what was never revealed in court is that Musk, according to Semaphore, had circled back to SBF on May 5, just two weeks before the cursed Twitter agreement was signed. The Tesla CEO reportedly reached out to SBF just before midnight, asking that he contribute his $100 million stake to a privately-owned Twitter. That’s a major chunk of company control to offer to someone who allegedly causes your “bullsh**t meter” to “redline,” but alas: an FTX balance sheet prepared and circulated to investors after the Twitter v Musk had concluded with a Musk acquisition reportedly counted FTX’s Twitter shares as illiquid.
It’s worth mentioning that FTX rival Binance, which contributed an additional $500 million towards Musk’s acquisition, is widely credited with exposing FTX’s financial vulnerabilities, which ultimately led to its demise. Maybe those at the company, particularly founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, knew of SBF’s involvement in the Twitter deal, and maybe they didn’t.
In any case, though, one person certainly did, and that person is Musk himself. And considering the narrative he’s been pushing, he has a lot of explaining to do — and unfortunately for him, a crude meme of mating rhinos simply won’t cut it.
READ MORE: Sam Bankman-Fried, Elon Musk, and a secret text [Semafor]