Nas Daily’s video profiling Sam Bankman-Fried has aged badly. We all know that.
But even when it was released, it was oh so painful to watch.
There’s the slow-motion shot of SBF giving a woman a banknote, paving the way for a cringeworthy introduction.
Nas — real name Nuseir Yassin — gesticulates with glee and talks about the one-time crypto wunderkind to the camera…who is standing awkwardly next to him.
The YouTuber then documents how “normal” SBF is, in a breathless tone that’s a jarring mismatch for the facts.
“Sam has CRAZY HAIR! Sam is VEGAN! Sam sleeps FIVE HOURS A NIGHT!”
Animal-loving insomniacs with an untameable mane are so hard to come by, aren’t they?
To be fair to Nas, the focus of his video — released in January 2022 — was worth being breathless about. Or so we thought.
“The guy you see next to me is the most generous billionaire in the world…and I found him!”
Little did Nas know that he would soon wish he hadn’t found him — and when FTX’s bankruptcy hit, the influencer had little choice but to record a video offering his sympathy to its customers.
What happened isn’t the YouTuber’s fault. SBF wasn’t shy about his supposed ambitions of getting rich to give the money away to charity. He had long spoken of his belief in “effective altruism” — and how he was driven by earning to give.
But even before FTX went down in flames, there were warning signs that SBF was all mouth and no trousers.
When Forbes released its 2021 rundown of the 400 richest people in America — two months before Nas Daily’s video — Steven Ehrlich noted that SBF was worth $22.5 billion.
And how much had he given away, we hear you ask? Just $25 million — 0.1% of his fortune — meaning he was among the least charitable members of that esteemed list.
As Ehrlich said, that’s “mathematically equivalent to a typical 29-year-old American stuffing $15 into a Salvation Army bucket.”
(If you just have — Nas Daily is on his way to record you, I’m sure.)
SBF’s bluster is a symptom of a long-running disease in crypto: promising the world before you’ve delivered the goods.
We’ve seen it in the countless initial coin offerings that have raised millions, despite the fact they didn’t even have a working product.
And we’ve seen it in the entrepreneurs who would rent Lamborghinis and take them to crypto conferences — offering them the illusion of success at a fraction of the cost.
No one disputes that the goals of effective altruism and earning to give are admirable. But garnering column inches and YouTube views by saying you’re going to do it — rather than quietly getting on with it — is cheap and vain.
SBF isn’t the only crypto entrepreneur who risks falling into this trap, and he won’t be the last. But let’s be honest: It’s the billionaire’s equivalent of a TikTokker who films themselves giving a pizza or $100 to a homeless person. They’re not trying to do what’s right — they’re trying to get engagement.
It wasn’t always like this.
Back in December 2017 — shortly before Bitcoin broke $20,000 for the first time — a philanthropic project called the Pineapple Fund opened its doors.
It was started by an early adopter of Bitcoin who wished to remain anonymous. On Reddit at the time, they wrote: “Bitcoin has changed my life, and I have far more money than I can ever spend. My aims, goals, and motivations in life have nothing to do with having XX million or being the mega rich. So I’m doing something else: donating the majority of my bitcoins to charitable causes.”
And rather than waiting for Nas Daily to swing round with his camera crew, “Pine” got to work. A whopping 5,104 BTC was shared between more than 60 charities — organizations that provided everything from clean water to clinical trials exploring whether MDMA could treat post-traumatic stress disorder. That war chest was worth $55 million back then, and would have a value of well over $140 million now.
It was an incredible achievement — and to this day, “Pine” remains anonymous. Instead of blowing smoke up their you-know-where, they let the fund do the talking. And unlike FTX, these charities had the added bonus that they’ll never face immense pressure to return funds because they were stolen from unsuspecting customers.
Crypto has started to cultivate a compelling track record when it comes to charitable donations. Crypto Giving Tuesday goes from strength to strength every year, and Ukraine has received over $100 million since Russia’s invasion began. (But even then, contributions only spiked when an airdrop was rumored.)
The digital assets space is often consumed with talking about the future — where we’ll be in a year’s time, five years, a decade. And that’s fine. But when it comes to charity, maybe — just maybe — it’s better to follow Nike’s mantra: Just Do It.