See More

Author Michael Lewis Stresses Role of ‘Effective Altruism’ in Sam Bankman-Fried’s Rise and Fall

3 mins
Updated by Michael Washburn
Join our Trading Community on Telegram

In Brief

  • Author Michael Lewis's book about fallen crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried is set to come out Tuesday, as the latter's trial begins.
  • The book has caused a stir for what it allegedly reveals about Bankman-Fried's motives in amassing so much wealth, power, and status.
  • But, given the amount of time that Lewis reportedly spent getting to know Bankman-Fried, its full revelations may yet have the power to shock.
  • promo

Before it even hits the shelves Tuesday, Michael Lewis’s new book about Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX, Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon, has spurred vigorous discussion over what could have driven Bankman-Fried to act as he did.

Set to appear in bookstores the same day that Bankman-Fried’s trial gets underway, the book contains more than its share of bombshell revelations, some already leaked to media sources. Some of the most sensational claims concern how the world of crypto exerted its spell on the young entrepreneur.

Michael Lewis Reveals Sensational Facts About Sam Bankman-Fried

In advance of his book’s publication, Michael Lewis has given interviews to sources such as 60 Minutes. Meanwhile, some reporters have gotten their hands on advance copies of the book. They have wasted no time in searching out those parts of it that present in full the Sam Bankman-Fried people thought they knew well.

The book’s appearance and its explosive timing have gained Lewis, already a minor celebrity in the world of journalism, more stature. The Telegraph has run a feature on his rise. CBS News has detailed how a personal tragedy nearly derailed his writing career.

But the financial markets, and the public, want to know more about one person: Sam Bankman-Fried. About the personality and the mindset that drove him to engineer a crypto exchange valued at $40 billion until it crashed. And to become a figure who once enjoyed the respect of the media and whom they turned to as a source on, for example, the downfall of Three Arrows Capital.

In interviews, Lewis has made statements portraying his subject a believer in “effective altruism.” And as having a vast ago. And has described Bankman-Fried as someone who quickly rose to the top of the finance world.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried repotedly wanted to use his vast wealth and influence to realize a global altruistic vision. Source: FinTelegram.

Lewis Sets Out Crypto’s Appeal for Bankman-Fried

Lewis gave a telling interview to CBS News. At one point, Lewis says of Bankman-Fried:

“He didn’t care much about, like, spending it all on yachts, he was gonna spend it to save humanity from extinction.”

Lewis also depicts Bankman-Fried as a figure who, for all the celebrity he attained, was still a stranger to most of the public.

“The story of Sam’s life is people not understanding him. Misreading him. He’s so different, he’s so unusual. . . . A graduate of MIT, Bankman-Fried saw the world in numbers, framing everything in his life as a probability exercise, including philanthropy.”

Lewis elaborates on this philanthropic urge, which also got attention in a New Yorker profile. In his telling, Bankman-Fried wanted to amass vast sums of money that he could then use to uplift poor and starving people in various parts of the world.

He also describes the appeal, for Bankman-Fried, of a decentralized financial model where people can send cryptocurrency to each other without a bank taking fees every time.

Learn about Sam Bankman-Fried’s reputed desire to influence the political process in the United States with his vast wealth.

Are the Biggest Revelations About Bankman-Fried Still to Come?

The pre-release coverage of the book and its author may raise more questions than it answers. There can be little doubt that Lewis is uniquely positioned to analyze Bankman-Fried. And to describe what propelled him from obscurity to a brief spot at the heights of wealth and fame.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Lewis spent a total of 70 days with Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas, spread out over several visits. Lewis also accompanied Bankman-Fried on visits to Washington to meet with politicians whom his subject wanted to influence.

Lewis thereby gained direct access to his subject’s many fellow adherents of “effective altruism.” The doctrine that espouses amassing as much wealth as possible in order to be in a position to uplift the rest of humanity.

It seems unlikely that Lewis did not learn even more about Sam Bankman-Fried and his motives over the course of months visiting him in the Bahamas and many trips to the corridors of power in Washington.


In adherence to the Trust Project guidelines, BeInCrypto is committed to unbiased, transparent reporting. This news article aims to provide accurate, timely information. However, readers are advised to verify facts independently and consult with a professional before making any decisions based on this content.

Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn is a New York-based managing editor who joined BeInCrypto in March 2023. Over his career, he written extensively about the corporate legal world and the intersection of finance and law, has produced thousands of articles and features, and has mentored many reporters and researchers finding their way in a fast-changing industry.