Last week, Sam Banksman-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 appear 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 – pushing the flesh as he promoted his cryptocurrency exchange FTX to countless investors and journalists. But this week, according to a source, Bankman-Fried was not able to travel from his residence in the Bahamas.
Instead, Banksman-Fried made a virtual appearance – despite the fact that his crypto firm FTX was a major sponsor of this week’s conference. Earlier this year, FTX and SkyBridge launched FTX Bahamas, a crypto-only event.
“It is strange – if Bankman-Fried had been at SALT the deal would have been conference news,” said one conference attendee. “You’d think he’d show up to boost his exposure to investment and support.”
Meanwhile, insiders noted that SALT proceedings at the Javits Center in New York this week were less focused on crypto than last year, although Web3 and NFT remained the subject of panel discussion. Indeed, one person involved in persuading people to register told The Post, “I had to reassure potential attendees that it will not be as crypto-heavy this year as last year.”
According to reports, Scaramucci – who famously served a 10-day stint as former President Trump’s head of communications – is still bullish on cryptocurrency, although his crypto-focused funds are falling this year as digital assets tank .
Scaramucci in a statement to The Post called for “excessive reading” of Bankman-Fried’s absence — and that FTX was represented there with a lot of personnel. “I think the investment they just made is statement enough,” Scaramucci said.
FTX declined to comment.
Legion Strategies, one of Skybridge’s heavily crypto-focused funds, is down about 30% this year. In July, Skybridge had to suspend withdrawals from the $230 million Legion Strategies Fund, according to a Bloomberg report. Over 20% of the fund is in cryptocurrency-related investments. According to a July report in Dealbook, the $2 billion SkyBridge flagship fund is facing a withdrawal of about $900 million.
While this week’s event caught heavy hitters – including Todd Boehley, the California billionaire wbho who just bought FS Chelsea – it lacked many of the domestic hedge fund names the convention is commonly known for.
Last year’s speaker roster included financial giants such as Steven Cohen of Point72, Dan Loeb of Third Point, Mark Larry of Avenue and Kathy Wood of ARK Invest.
Of course, as the market continues to fluctuate, many investors may be focusing more on keeping their funds afloat than on giving opinions about NFTs at conferences.
One financier who opted to quit this year quipped, “For most investors, this is not a good time to brag about your performance.”
The 30-year-old Bankman-Fried is estimated to be worth $12.4 billion according to Forbes and has become a kind of crypto savior during a steep decline in digital coins. He provided a crypto bank, BlockFi, with a $250 million credit and committed to give crypto brokerage Voyager Digital $500 million to bail out as the cryptocurrency market tanks over the summer.
“It’s strange that Bankman-Fried wasn’t there … but it’s only a $45 million deal,” said the conference goer.