FTX’s dramatic rise to affluence could not have been possible without influencing the right people at the right time. The recent filing in their bankruptcy proceedings elucidates the depths of the intricate maze of influence that made them the third-largest crypto exchange in just three years of operation.
The Creditor Matrix
On January 26, 2023, FTX filed its creditor matrix, a 116-page document enlisting vendors and investors of the now-bankrupt crypto exchange. The list provides glimpses of the intricate maze that the company created to climb the success ladder at lightning speeds.
The infamous list has dozens of names of public relations experts specializing in generating positive spin in the media for their clients, plus some political consultants, trade groups, and think tanks. Mostly the money directly went to political operations; a dark-money group called Majority Forward, specializing in electing Senate Democrats received cash.
Hired guns, like some PR firms, directly received their payments for services. While other groups that received donations, though claiming to have similar interests, clarified their independent stature.
For example, the list includes the Center for a New American Security, an important national security-focused firm think tank operating in Washington DC, working closely on crypto regulations.
The Intricate Maze
The filing gives a glimpse of the labyrinthine maze that fuelled FTX’s success. The thumb rule dictates that either you walk the dreaded path or hire a vehicle to make the route easier. Any vehicle needs fuel, so they spend extravagant money to win friends and influence the right people. This went well but post their fall, they have been accused of funneling billions worth of investors’ funds, with top management in the cross hairs.
The wheels and body of the success wagon were visible, meaning that people knew certain names, but the list highlighted the engine’s blueprint, showing previously unknown names. The intercept highlighted certain names, like former NY City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid, and Susan McCure, her firm, who played an important role in the leadership of several Democratic super PACs and dark-money outfits. Patomak Global Partners a firm specializing in influencing financial regulations.
CNAS – Think Tank
Center for a New American Security also received handsome donations. It is a powerful think tank working with both parties but majorly appoints for national security roles in Democratic administrations. The timing of the donations coincided with the organization’s advocacy on crypto regulations.
FTX was also a former member of a task force on crypto, fintech, and national security maintained by CNAS; the force worked closely with government officials, offering policy advice. It received $25,000 in donations from FTX in 2022, and CNAS returned the donation in full.
FTX had amazing advertising and promotional campaigns, which portrayed SBF as the youthful leader, but such coverage was never organic, and the exchange hired many PR firms for the job. They all had specific modus operandi, burning the image in people’s retinas.