Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents — His upper class upbringing

By Chege Karomo — ON Nov 16, 2022
Sam Bankman-Fried
Tom Williams/Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace has been hard to take for individuals and firms that have lost fortunes following the collapse of FTX, a crypto exchange founded by Bankman-Fried in 2019. FTX grew with the increase in the value of cryptocurrency, but following sharp reversals in the cryptocurrency industry in 2022, everything started to unravel for FTX. 

Regardless, FTX, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange worldwide at one point, was expected to survive the crypto dip. However, FTX was a poorly run operation, primed to implode at any moment. Bankman-Fried’s billions were wiped out in days, and the situation could worsen for him if authorities find evidence of criminal activity. 

Sam’s parents are professors at Stanford Law School

Sam Bankman-Fried was born on 6th March 1992 to Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried. Joseph and Barbara, professors at Stanford Law School, raised Sam and his brother Gabe in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in California. 

Joseph earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and his JD from Yale Law School. Barbara graduated from Harvard College with a BA degree in English & American Literature and from Harvard Law School with a JD. 

She clerked for J. Edward Lumbard, a senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals, before joining a law firm in 1984. Three years later, she joined the Stanford Law School Faculty. 

In an August 2022 episode of the FTX Podcast, Joseph revealed that he helped raise money for the firm. Bankman also said he was involved in charity and regulation-related projects.

Joseph and Barbara have strong ties to the democratic party

In 2004, Joseph and his colleagues helped develop a system where citizen tax returns were filled out in advance, only requiring users to make corrections. The system would reduce the time spent filling out tax returns. The program failed to pass the California house by one vote. 

When Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a similar system in 2016, she received an endorsement from Joe Bankman. 

Meanwhile, Barbara is one of the co-founders and leaders of Mind the Gap, a secretive group that raises funds for Democratic campaigns. Barbara told Vox that Mind the Gap helps donors decide where best to donate funds:

“Our aim is to evaluate the efficacy of different forms of political and civic engagement, and provide our conclusions free to individual, interested donors so they can make more educated decisions about where their money would be most effectively spent.”

Mind the Gap has helped raise millions of dollars for Democratic party nominees. Barbara is an avid political donor: according to the Federal Election Commission, Fried donated $15,500 to candidates in Oregon, Montana, and Wisconsin in 2022.