Sam Trabucco, a Roxbury Latin and MIT graduate, got rich trading cryptocurrency. Now he’s the odd man out in the FTX saga.

Trabucco was one of the top managers of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire. He served as Alameda’s CEO until August. In November, FTX and Alameda imploded within days as filings revealed Alameda had lost billions of dollars in FTX client funds.

The companies are now the subject of bankruptcy proceedings and a wide-ranging criminal investigation, and several of Trabucco’s former colleagues have been charged with fraud. Authorities allege Bankman-Fried orchestrated a scheme in which FTX customer funds were used to prop up Alameda’s trading and make loans to executives. Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty.

Investigators charged FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison for fraud and other violations. Ellison and Wang agreed to plead guilty in late December and cooperated with investigators.

Trabucco, on the other hand, was not as prominent in the proceedings as his former colleagues. He has not been charged and it is not publicly known whether he is cooperating with investigators.

Neither Trabucco nor family members would comment publicly.

A Globe review of his and his friends’ public interviews, property records and social media posts, as well as interviews with a half-dozen acquaintances, show that Trabucco is similar to his FTX and Alameda peers, but also different in important ways.

On the one hand, Trabucco and the other principals showed great mathematical talent as children and attended prestigious schools. Long before working together, Trabucco, Bankman-Fried, Wang, and Ellison crossed paths in competitive mathematics circles.

But Bankman-Fried and some of his lieutenants were also devotees of “effective altruism,” the philanthropic movement that encourages successful people to use their wealth to do as much good as possible. Trabucco, on the other hand, had a more classic motivation: Crypto was a way for him to make a lot of money.

Trabucco grew up in Natick and attended Roxbury Latin School, a private boys’ high school. The son of a Wellesley College campus police officer and a preschool teacher, he described himself in video interviews as “one of those math kids” who enjoyed solving puzzles more than playing outside.

He sometimes competed in math competitions against Ellison, who attended Newton North High School. For two summers, she attended Mathcamp, a highly selective five-week program designed to teach advanced math concepts to high school students.

At Mathcamp, Trabucco crossed paths with Wang in 2008, the summer before her sophomore year of high school, and she first met Bankman-Fried there in 2010, when the program was held at Mount Holyoke College.

“When I realized I was good at math, even when I thought the result was, ‘Oh, I can win math competitions,’ I was really crazy,” Trabucco said in a podcast. “Almost to the detriment of most of the other skills I could have developed in my life.

He went on to study mathematics and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Wang was in the same class, and Bankman-Fried a year before them. Bankman-Fried graduated in 2014 and Trabucco and Wang in 2015.

MIT in Cambridge.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

After college, Trabucco, Bankman-Fried, and Ellison, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mathematics, worked at quantitative trading firms. Trabucco moved to Philadelphia and joined Susquehanna International Group, where he interned as a junior.

“In general, graduates of math programs, including Mathcamp, often end up in finance or lucrative careers,” said Mathcamp board chair Daniel Zaharopol.

Then cryptocurrency caught his attention. Trabucco started trading cryptocurrency with his own money and saw an opportunity for arbitrage trading, which involves buying and selling cryptocurrencies on different markets, profiting from the price difference.

Trabucco admitted that he “doesn’t really have strong opinions about whether the technology or cryptocurrency makes sense.” For him, it was about the opportunity to get rich.

“I really just … felt it was irresponsible not to focus [crypto] When I can make more money than anything I know,” he said Interview in 2021.

Trabucco left Susquehanna in 2017 and moved to San Francisco. Bankman-Fried started Alameda Research that year, and at one point the two had lunch, which led to Trabucco joining the firm as a trader.

Alameda Research was founded in 2017 by Sam Bankman-Fried.Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

One former Alameda employee said Trabucco was “a cautious person in general, but he felt comfortable in the office.” They said he had a passion for things like trading, numbers, trivia and crossword puzzles. (Some of his puzzles have been published by The New York Times.)

“Some of us would get together and try to solve his crossword puzzles,” the former employee wrote in a message to the Globe.

Math was a big part of Alameda’s work culture. Traders tried to estimate the “expected value” of different scenarios, regardless of how big the risk was, choosing the one with the most profitable probability.

But some Alameda and FTX leaders had another big idea in mind: effective altruism meant using evidence and reasoning to figure out how best to help people in their world. Bankman-Fried has made it clear that she wants to give most of her wealth to charitable causes that can benefit humanity. Ellison wrote on his now-deleted Tumblr blog that “the money is so easy. … Showing the future as I want it really seems like the only worthy goal.”

Effective altruism can mean, for example, providing medical supplies to a developing country where a particular disease is prevalent, or donating only to organizations proven to bring about positive social change.

By all accounts, Trabucco wasn’t interested philosophy of effective altruism and did not participate. He got into cryptocurrency to make money for himself. And he certainly did.

In 2020, he bought a four-bedroom house in Wells, Maine $500,000, apparently, now his parents live. The following year, he purchased a 3,800-square-foot luxury condo in San Francisco with views of the Golden Gate Bridge. for about $9 million. Trabucco also bought a 52-foot boat and named it “Wet My Deck.”

Alameda’s former employee said Trabucco did not appear to be in Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, which included Ellison, Wang, and Nishad Singh, FTX’s former director of engineering. This group also started the FTX Future Fund, the now-defunct charitable arm of the FTX, Without Trabucco.

“I assume these 4 shared items were not shared with each other and Trabucco,” a former employee wrote to the Globe.

Nevertheless, Trabucco and Ellison In the fall of 2021, they were promoted from traders to CEOs of Alameda. Both lived in Hong Kong, where Alameda moved, and also worked in the Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried and FTX are based.

Trabucco and Ellison made it clear that FTX and Alameda operate as separate companies, even though both are owned by Bankman-Fried.

“To be clear, I work for Alameda, not FTX,” Trabucco said in a video interview weeks before his promotion. “They’re both set up by Sam Bankman-Fried, but yeah, they’re totally different.”

However, prosecutors said Alameda received special privileges on the FTX exchange that, among other benefits, allowed him to borrow “virtually unlimited” money. Investigators accused Alameda of using billions of dollars in client funds from FTX to pay off their own loans to other lenders, as well as loans to executives.

At the plea hearing, Ellison admitted he knew about the arrangement and helped facilitate it.

During his last months as CEO, Trabucco was surrounded by friends and traveled.

In the spring of 2022, his former MIT classmates visited him in the Bahamas. In July, he traveled to Las Vegas during MIT’s Mega-Pi, a reunion that reunited several classes 3.14 years after graduation. due to the pandemic.

In October—two months after leaving Alameda— Trabucco returned to the Bahamas for his 30th birthday and celebrated with a cake featuring his face, according to a friend’s Instagram account.

That was a month before the situation worsened at Alameda and FTX. And since it broke up, Trabucco has stayed off social media and has not made public statements.

“Much love to all” Trabucco he wrote In his last Twitter post on Nov. 8, as the FTX saga began to unfold. “I’m sure the last few days have been dark for many and I hope the road ahead is brighter.”

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.

Source link