Bloomberg’s SBF Documentary Just Dropped and It Could Have Been So Good
Bloomberg just dropped a documentary on Sam Bankman-Fried and it could have been so good.
“RUIN: Money, Ego and Deception at FTX,” which is racking up almost 60,000 in the 17 hours since it went live, has production value that rivals an HBO film, a grabby story line, and a detailed overview of the main milestones of one of crypto’s most dramatic stories.
But it has two flaws that overshadow the rest: Its choice of interviewees and that it should have gone harder against SBF. The blunders highlight how mainstream financial media’s continued dismissal of crypto mars its coverage.
Stealing, Not Borrowing
The documentary misses the mark on how it explains the core of FTX and Alameda’s wrongdoing.
A Bloomberg editor explains that Alameda was “borrowing” money from FTX and posting FTT as collateral. And that this happened after lenders started calling in their loans to Alameda as a result of the Terra/Luna collapse.
Alameda Research, SBF’s hedge fund, has been accused of stealing FTX customer deposits to trade ever since FTX started operating in 2019. It was theft. Not loans. It was how the two companies operated – even fabricating multiple balance sheets to cover it up. It wasn’t an exception.
Su Zhu and BitBoy Interviews
The story’s credibility further sours with some of its interview choices.
The lineup includes reputable names such as Jesse Powell of Kraken, venture capitalist Alex Pack, and Alex Svanevik of Nansen, together with a host of Bloomberg reporters and editors.
But then there’s interviews with Kyle Davies and Su Zhu, founders of another massive crypto failed operation, Three Arrows Capital. The inventors of the “supercycle,” were accused of lying to investors and lenders about their financial positions and balance sheet.
Zhu is quoted in the film trying to make sense of SBF’s motivations.
“People say ‘scammer know scammer,'” Zhu says in the film “First of all, I don’t think I’m a scammer but I understand what he was trying to do. I don’t think he had a conception of whether he was wrong or right. He just had the mentality that he just had to win.”
Then, there’s an interview with YouTuber BitBoy, who has been accused by multiple sources of pumping and dumping tokens onto his audience, ironically talking about the regular folk who lost their life savings.
They also interview Kevin O’Leary without mentioning his hefty $15M deal as a spokesperson for FTX.
Inspirational Quote from SBF
The documentary concludes with SBF talking about his legacy.
“I don’t give a shit about my legacy,” SBF says on camera for what seems to be an old interview. “I think what matters is what impact I have in the world in the end. It doesn’t matter if I make the world better or if someone else does it. Better is better and if I can help other people help the world that’s just as good.”
“In the end it’s the mark that we actually leave on the world not the mark that we’re perceived to leave on the world what maters.”
The documentary ends with that quote, which seems to provide SBF with a platform to absolve himself. I wonder if a documentary about Madoff would have an inspirational quote from him.
What’s puzzling, is that Bloomberg and other large financial media outlets criticize crypto for things that don’t make sense — terrorism financing and how hard it is to send Bitcoin — but inexplicably fail to categorically call out wrongdoing at the biggest frauds in crypto’s history.
In any case, this documentary provides a well-made overview of the SBF story and viewers will come out smarter about the saga after watching it.
We just hope they don’t think BitBoy is a credible source to talk about crypto or that maybe this “quirky boy genius wasn’t that bad.”
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