FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried: Institutions are ‘desperate’ for crypto
Is SBF going to lobby the government on behalf of crypto? How badly do institutions want in on the blockchain game? When’s a moat an impediment to growth, and not a protective shield?
As FTX and Alameda Research increasingly enter the public eye, one side effect is that the decabillionaire is himself a growing public figure. Especially after a significant donation to Joe Biden’s campaign for the US presidency, some observers hoped that SBF would come to serve as a kind of professional lobbyist on behalf of the crypto ecosystem.
While he says he’s open to discussing his views, he’s not trying to work the edges or sell anyone a used car:
So I’m super happy to serve as a resource for anyone in government or else who wants and I think happy talk about what the industry is like […] look, they have so many people who come to them with agendas right here. You know, to the extent I have an agenda, I just want it to flow from my actual thoughts and beliefs. So that’s all I have to talk about is my thoughts and beliefs rather than try and create a fact pattern that happens to fit where I want it to go or something like that.”
Another hot topic of conversation is the growing push towards institutional adoption. While Bankman-Fried says that institutions are increasingly “desperate” to get involved, they’re not always entirely sure what that looks like or what, exactly, they’re aiming to do. As a result, the process is one of feeling things out at times.
“The first thing that we do is we just listen, right? We’re like, look, what’s what’s your goal here? What you actually want to do? And then we can say, all right, cool, here’s how the industry works right now. Ignoring what you said. Here’s this, here’s the lay of the land. […] We want to be a day away from pulling the trigger on a big deal.”
Finally, he weighed in on the layer one battles between Ethereum and Solana. While Ethereum maximalists are quick to point to the developer and ecosystem moat, SBF wonders how unassailable that moat truly is. When it comes to genuine widespread adoption, it’s important to differentiate between blockers that can be overcome, and blockers that — like scalability — are more stubborn.
“I think that’s one of the fundamental tensions here, is that like this moat is insurmountable if crypto never grows. But if crypto gets 50 times bigger, the moat is two percent of the eventual pie. The other piece of this, right, is why is the moat valuable as a business? A moat is valuable to keep other people out. A moat doesn’t let you grow itself, right? It gets rid of a particular impediment to your growth, which is competitors, but a moat isn’t growth itself […] If your castle literally can’t get any bigger, maybe no one will ever get into it, but it has 2% of the land right now and it won’t get any more.”
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