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No rest for the weary, it seems

Inside Alameda Research: Working 136 days straight without rest

With the colossal collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX empire seemingly coming from nowhere, many are struggling to comprehend just how this could all happen. As more and more reports come out of misleading public personas and possible stimulant consumption, it's becoming apparent that at both FTX and Alameda Research the culture wasn't as cuddly as it seemed. 

In a recent edition of the presumably defunct FTX podcast, Alameda’s former co-CEO Sam Trabucco spoke of the intense workplace environment during his tenure. Though he admitted to feeling burned out, Trabucco still paraded his inability to take a day off by touting a “record” streak of “136 days, if we’re keeping track.” He even mentioned that “the first day [he] tried to take off in a long time,” remembered to the date as “March 12th 2020,” resulted in him having to go back into work. 

During the quarantines, both FTX and Almeda moved locations to Hong Kong. Both Trabucco and podcast host Tristan Yver said that being in an unfamiliar foreign land for those two difficult years actively helped the companies grow, as “nobody had anything to do except work all day.” 

It didn't help that Alameda was keen not to over hire. Trabucco said, “the team was just so small, and we had so many things to do that everyone had to be able to do them.”  

A similar sentiment was expressed by Caroline Ellison, current Alameda CEO and Trabucco's former co-head. In her tweet below, Ellison explains that it's all about hiring a few people who will work super-hard and that working long hours is to be desired. 

Quite a few people in the broader FTX empire appear to have been medicated by ADHD. If you didn't have ADHD when you joined, working for the company many have encouraged its symptoms. FTX Bahamas CEO Ryan Salame, who spent a year and 10 months as head of OTC for Alameda, appeared to be feeling the side effects of similar demands in his own edition of the podcast last year. Salame said: “I certainly have a shorter attention span now and operate in a slightly different way than I think I did before crypto.”  

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Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: alex.mcmurray@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. 

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AUTHORAlex McMurray
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