Sam Bankman-Fried, Elon Musk Weighed ‘Joint Effort’ to Acquire Twitter

Elon Musk doubted whether FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried actually had billions in liquidity


Elon Musk | Blockworks Exclusive Art by Axel Rangel


key takeaways

  • Bankman-Fried advisor Will MacAskill tried to set up a meeting between the two billionaires
  • The FTX CEO was ready to commit roughly $5 billion towards the deal, text messages showed

When Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion, a line of tech personalities pitched efforts to take forward the deal. One of them was FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, newly-released text messages revealed this week.

A series of private texts, first reported by Business Insider, showed Bankman-Fried’s associate Will MacAskill told Musk that the FTX CEO was “potentially interested” in acquiring Twitter and proposed a “joint effort” with the Tesla chief.

MacAskill, an advisor at the FTX Future Fund, said on March 30 that Bankman-Fried could contribute between $3 to $8 billion towards the deal, according to their message history found online.

Morgan Stanley banker Michael Grimes, also trying to propose a deal between the two, separately told Musk that Bankman-Fried could finalize $5 billion and facilitate the engineering for social-media blockchain integration. 

Musk seemed to doubt whether the crypto bigwig, in fact, had billions available for such an undertaking.

“Does Sam actually have $3B liquid?” Musk asked Grimes. 

The Tesla CEO is currently the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $240 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Bankman-Fried’s net worth last stood at $9.4 billion.

Musk also dismissed the blockchain integration proposal, saying: “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 decentralised network.” 

Even so, Musk seemed to have wanted to build a social media platform using blockchain. In a message sent to his brother Kimbal Musk he said he had an idea for a blockchain social media system that “does both payments and short text messages / links like Twitter.”

“You have to pay a tiny amount to register your message on the chain, which will cut out the vast majority of spam and bots,” Musk, who claims 90% of the comments on his tweets are from bots, said about his idea.

The last text they shared, according to the exhibits, was on May 5 when Musk asked Bankman-Fried: “Sorry, who is sending this message?”

FTX and MacAskill’s representatives didn’t return Blockworks’ request for comment by press time.

Bankman-Fried ‘excited’ to fix social media with Musk

The FTX Chief previously said in a Bloomberg interview in April that he was keen to speak with Musk about technologies used in what he described as the “broken model” of social media. 

He explained how he thought blockchain could solve the problem of interoperability between platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. At the time, he said he hadn’t spoken to Musk directly about the matter, but “would be excited to.”

The texts they exchanged were in early April.

Musk’s Twitter deposition looms

The text message exhibits were released as part of the court battle between Twitter and Musk, who terminated his acquisition on July 8. He claimed the company failed to provide adequate information relating to the number of spam and fake accounts on the site.

Twitter chairman Bret Taylor vowed a legal fight to enforce the merger agreement. 

Musk is set to be questioned under oath by Twitter lawyers on Oct. 6 and 7 over his move to walk away from the $44 billion takeover. At the five-day trial, which could be one of Wall Street’s biggest legal fights, lawyers are expected to demonstrate that the billionaire abandoned the deal as a result of declining stock market prices.

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