An advisor to Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of crypto exchange FTX Trading Limited, told Elon Musk that the crypto billionaire was interested in buying Twitter and implementing blockchain technology on the social media platform. The saga is outlined in a series of Musk’s private texts made public amid Twitter’s lawsuit against the SpaceX founder after he pulled out of a US$44 billion deal to purchase the social media giant.
As Musk began buying stakes in Twitter, and tweeting about his displeasure with the social media platform’s censorship policies in March, Will MacAskill, a top advisor to Bankman-Fried, texted Musk regarding SBF’s interest in Twitter.
Referencing a poll Musk tweeted about Twitter policy and free speech, MacAskill messaged Musk on March 29, writing: “I’m not sure if this is what’s on your mind, but my collaborator Sam Bankman-Fried has for a while been potentially interested in purchasing it and then making it better for the world.” MacAskill provided Bankman-Fried’s contact, suggesting Musk reach out to him if interested in “a possible joint effort in that direction.”
Musk responded to the text by asking if Bankman-Fried had “huge amounts of money?” MacAskill said SBF was worth about US$24 billion at the time and could be willing to provide as much as US$8 billion to US$15 billion in financing.
Last year, Forbes called Bankman-Fried one of the richest people under 30 in history. Now 30, the entrepreneur has been on a buying spree within the crypto industry, recently closing a deal with the bankrupt lender Voyager. In an interview with Bloomberg in April, the self-identifying “effective altruist” spoke about implementing blockchain to create a free-speech model on Twitter.
Bankman-Fried and Musk exchanged several messages through April. In one, Bankman-Fried shared a post about how blockchain and Twitter could work. In an April 14 text Michael Kives, the founder and CEO of K5 Global, texted Musk, saying: “It could be cool to do this with Sam Bankman-Fried.” Jared Birchall, a partner and top advisor to Musk, also sent Musk a Bloomberg article referencing Bankman-Fried and his vision for blockchain and social media integration.
Musk was later connected to Morgan Stanley banker Michael Grimes in April, who said that Bankman-Fried would be willing to “shake hands” on up to US$5 billion. “I do believe you will like him,” Grimes texted Musk. “Ultra genius and doer builder like your formula. Built FTX from scratch after MIT physics. Second to Bloomberg in donations to Biden campaign.”
However, Musk turned sour on the idea, saying he didn’t want to “have a laborious blockchain debate” with Bankman-Fried. “Blockchain Twitter isn’t possible, as the bandwidth and latency requirements cannot be supported by a peer-to-peer network, unless those ‘peers’ are absolutely gigantic, thus defeating the purpose of a decentralized network,” Musk told Grimes.
The last text message shared between Musk and Bankman-Fried in the case exhibits was sent on May 5, when Musk responded to Bankman-Fried, saying: “Sorry, who is sending this message?”