Sam Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, went from being a crypto kingpin to a convicted fraudster

He was the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and was recently found guilty of defrauding customers of his cryptocurrency exchange out of billions of dollars.

Bankman-Fried's rise and fall have been swift and dramatic, going from managing a crypto empire worth £21 billion to facing the possibility of a prison sentence of over 100 years. But who is this 31-year-old curly-haired individual, and how did he reach this point?

Early Life: Bankman-Fried grew up in an affluent neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area in California and attended a private school with an annual tuition of $56,000. Both of his parents were professors at the prestigious Stanford Law School. He later attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he lived in a group house called Epsilon Theta, which was known for being an alcohol-free community that enjoyed board games, puzzles, and rubber ducks.

During his time at MIT, he admitted in a podcast interview that he wasn't particularly diligent in his studies and didn't know what to do with his life for most of his college years. He graduated from college in 2014 with a degree in physics and mathematics.

Veganism and Effective Altruism: Bankman-Fried is known for his commitment to veganism, even in prison, where he reportedly maintained his vegan principles despite not being provided with vegan food. He had a history of animal rights advocacy, which is tied to the effective altruism movement—a philosophy that seeks to make a positive impact on the world through rational, evidence-based, and efficient charitable giving.

Reportedly, during his college years, he contemplated a career in animal advocacy and organized protests against industrial farming during his freshman year in college. However, he was advised by Will MacAskill, a prominent figure in the effective altruism movement, that he could have a greater impact by pursuing a high-paying career and then donating a significant portion of his earnings to charity. This philosophy, known as "earning to give," is a central pillar of effective altruism and focuses on maximizing one's ability to do good by generating substantial resources.

Financial Success in Cryptocurrency: After working at Jane Street, a quantitative trading firm, for three years, Bankman-Fried decided to take greater risks to accumulate wealth rapidly. He chose cryptocurrency as the means to achieve rapid financial success.

His crypto journey began with Bitcoin, where he realized that it was being sold at a higher price in Asia than in the United States. This led him to believe that he could make easy profits by buying Bitcoin in one location and selling it in another. He later got heavily involved in cryptocurrency trading, co-founding Alameda Research, a company engaged in crypto trading. It is reported that he donated around half of the company's profits to charitable causes, including animal welfare organizations.

In 2019, he founded FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that allowed users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The company quickly gained prominence and reached a peak daily trading volume of $25 billion.

Bankman-Fried's crypto empire was estimated to be worth $26 billion (£21 billion) before it collapsed in November of the previous year, shocking financial markets.

Bankman-Fried's journey from an affluent upbringing to becoming a crypto mogul and eventually facing legal troubles showcases the complexities and challenges in the world of cryptocurrencies and finance.