Exclusive: A Conversation with Wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO and Founder of FTX - Mitchell Dong

Talking Trends
5 min readJul 22, 2022
Photo by “Andre Francois Mckenzie” on Unsplash

As an entrepreneur at heart, a steward to investors, and the CEO of Pythagoras Investment Management, Mitchell Dong has extensive experience in hedge funds, Private Equity, Venture Capitalists, and Real Estate. Not only do clients trust his judgment when it comes to investing but he has also raised and currently raising money for his own funds as well. Mitchell Dong is an economics graduate from Harvard College and of the OPM program at Harvard Business School.

FTX is one of the hottest brands in the crypto landscape, enabling its users to exchange cryptocurrency on its platform. Being an alumnus of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, he had the opportunity to speak with Wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO and founder of FTX.

“Obviously, we’re in a bear market and seems like from what I gleaned in the press that you have a somewhat of a bearish outlook on the crypto-market in a Forbes article that came out yesterday. You felt that third-tier crypto exchanges were “secretly insolvent” and I was very curious about the choice of words. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that?”

I don’t know that I’m particularly bearish right now. I think that there is a little bit of journalistic discretion that probably went into how that article ended up getting written but what I would say is that like there’s obviously been a lot of really trying things for the ecosystem over the last month and you know I think that has had a big impact. I don’t know how much more there is left to come and even if there is a little bit more left to come, the fact that we have just been through such a big sell-off means that as much as me think things are oversold right now as that there is more left to comment and I don’t know which direction I leaned on the short-term. But what I would say is that I think of the big-name we’ve probably seen most, if not all, of the insolvencies or serve times of need that are going to come out around now and I don’t know of any other big Dominos that are expected to fall anytime soon.

“I notice you made an investment in bed technologies with IEX and both of them, well in case IX has an ATS and an alternative trading system that can trade tokenized equities and bed technologies says that the technology for it there are rumors about you in talks with Robinhood is part of a grand plan or a future vision to have FTX trade tokenize equities or security tokens”

In the end, this is gonna have to come down to some extent to regulatory questions and to what the framework looks like for tokenize equities and I don’t think we know for sure what that’s going to be. We’re engaging with regulators on that and are super interested but I will say that first of all, obviously, we are in general maybe moving into equities. To create what we’re hoping to be a coherent transparent use of a process that doesn’t rely on payment for order flow and hopefully give more equitable access to equity markets but that’s just the start to it. And going forward as for what the long-term vision is here, I think it absolutely might involve tokenizing equities, I think that’s something we’re very interested in. We would love to be able to build out a framework for them and to explore listing them and helping to bring crypto rails to the traditional market structure. If we’re able to.

“If you could have an exchange that traded tokenized equities that operated say for example 24/7, that would be amazing. And if you could also have consumers directly accessing as opposed to going to brokers, you have 24/7 risk management and transparency, you could put a lot of information on the blockchain. So I can see that that could really disrupt stock exchanges, not just in the US but potential globally, it would be amazing to see something like that.”

I completely agree with that and I think for what it’s worth, this jives a little bit with some of the principles that Gary Gensler has really mentioned, how can we move towards a transparent equitable market structure for all users rather than the trend that we have been seeing which is away from lit order books and towards bespoke hard to parse and non-transparent system.

“Somebody asked that day, who’s the most influential in Bitcoin and I said Warren Buffet because he called it rat poison and obviously the whole world heard that and a lot of people reacted against it. So the question is, do you think you are the Warren Buffet of crypto?”

I’d like to think that I have some things in common with him. He is probably a fair bit more patient than I am and I’ve been more focused recently on product building rather than investing. But I have spent a fair bit of time trying to understand how he does and others who view investing has a lot to do with the industry that we’re in.

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Mitchell Dong is a solar power developer and cryptocurrency miner and trader. He has been developing solar, hydro, cogeneration power facilities for 40 years in the US, Africa and China. He has also been a trader of physical uranium and electric power for the US and Scandinavia. He runs a hedge fund that trades cryptocurrency on behalf of bitcoin miners in Asia and USA and is actively sourcing low cost power for bitcoin miners globally.

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