Sam Trabucco, a student at Roxbury Latin and MIT, made his fortune trading crypto. Now he is the odd man out in the FTX saga.

Trabucco was one of the top executives in Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire. He was co-CEO of Alameda until August. In November, FTX and Alameda imploded within days as a deposit flight exposed Alameda’s loss of billions of dollars in FTX client funds.

Now the companies are the subject of bankruptcy proceedings and a wide-ranging criminal investigation, and several of Trabucco’s former colleagues have been charged with fraud. Authorities allege Bankman-Fried orchestrated a scheme in which Alameda used funds from FTX clients to prop up its trading and make loans to executives, among other things. Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty.

Investigators charged FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda accomplice Caroline Ellison of fraud and other violations. Ellison and Wang agreed to plead guilty in late December and have been cooperating with investigators.

Trabucco, in contrast, was not as prominent in court proceedings as his former colleagues. He has not been charged, nor is it publicly known whether he is cooperating with investigators.

Neither Trabucco nor his family members wanted to comment publicly.

The Globe’s review of his public interviews, property records and social media posts from him and his friends, as well as interviews with half a dozen acquaintances, reveals that Trabucco was similar to his FTX and Alameda colleagues, but also different in important ways.

On the one hand, Trabucco and the other principals showed great mathematical talent as children and attended prestigious schools. Long before they worked together, Trabucco, Bankman-Fried, Wang, and Ellison crossed paths in competitive mathematical circles.

But Bankman-Fried and some of his aides were also devotees of “effective altruism,” the charitable movement that encourages successful people to use their wealth to do as much good as possible. Trabucco, on the other hand, had a more classic motivation: Crypto was a way for him to make a lot of money.


Trabucco grew up in Natick and attended Roxbury Latin School, a private boys’ high school. The son of a Wellesley College campus police officer and a preschool teacher, in video interviews he called himself “one of those math kids” who preferred solving puzzles to playing outside.

He participated in math competitions, sometimes against Ellison, who attended Newton North High School. For two summers, he attended Mathcamp, a highly selective five-week program designed to introduce high school students to advanced math concepts.

At Mathcamp, Trabucco matched with Wang in 2008, the summer before their sophomore year of high school, and first met Bankman-Fried there in 2010, when the program was held at Mount Holyoke College.

“Once I realized I was good at math, even when I thought the outcome was ‘Oh, I could win math competitions,’ I really went crazy for it,” Trabucco said in a podcast. “Almost at the expense of most of the other skills I could have developed in life.

He went on to study mathematics and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Wang was in the same class and Bankman-Fried a year before them. Bankman-Fried graduated in 2014, while Trabucco and Wang graduated in 2015.

MIT in Cambridge.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

After college, Trabucco, Bankman-Fried and Ellison, who graduated from Stanford University with degrees in mathematics, worked at quantitative trading firms. Trabucco moved to Philadelphia and joined the Susquehanna International Group, where he interned during his first year.

“Alumni of math programs in general, including Mathcamp, often end up in finance or lucrative careers,” said Daniel Zaharopol, chairman of Mathcamp’s board of directors.

Then crypto caught his eye. Trabucco started trading cryptocurrency with his own money and a saw an opportunity for arbitrage trading, which involved buying and selling crypto on different markets, making money on the difference in price.

Trabucco admitted that he “didn’t really have a strong opinion about the technology or whether crypto made sense.” For him, it was an opportunity to get rich.

“I really just … felt it was irresponsible not to focus on it [crypto] when I could make more money doing that than anything else I was aware of,” he said during the video interview in 2021

Trabucco left Susquehanna in 2017 and moved to San Francisco. Bankman-Fried launched Alameda Research that year, and at one point the two had dinner, which led to Trabucco joining the firm as a trader.

Alameda Research was founded in 2017 by Sam Bankman-Fried.Andrei Rudakov/Bloomberg

One former Alameda employee said Trabucco was “generally reserved, but comfortable in the office.” They said he was passionate about things like trading, numbers, trivia and crossword puzzles. (Some of his puzzle submissions have been published by The New York Times.)

“Some of us would get together and try to solve his crossword puzzles,” the former employee wrote in a message to the Globe.

Math was a big part of Alameda’s work culture. Traders tried to estimate the “expected value” of different scenarios, choosing the one with the most profitable likely outcome, regardless of the risk.

But there was another big idea in the minds of some Alameda and FTX leaders: effective altruism, which in their world meant using evidence and reasoning to figure out how best to help people. Bankman-Fried has spoken publicly about wanting to give most of his wealth to charities that could benefit humanity. Ellison wrote on her now-deleted Tumblr blog that “money is too easy. … Making the future look the way I want it to really seem like the only worthwhile goal.”

Effective altruism could mean, for example, providing medical supplies to a developing country where a certain disease is ravaging or donating only to organizations that have shown results in bringing about positive social change.

Apparently, Trabucco was not interested in effective philosophy of altruism and did not participate in it. He got into crypto to make money for himself. And he certainly did.

In 2020, he bought a four-bedroom house in Wells, Maine, for $500,000, where his parents appear to live now. The following year, he bought a 3,800-square-foot luxury apartment in San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge for almost 9 million dollars. Trabucco also bought a 52-foot boat and named it “Soak My Deck.”

A former Alameda employee said it did not appear that Trabucco was in Bankman-Fried’s inner circle, which included Ellison, Wang and Nishad Singh, FTX’s former director of engineering. This group also launched the FTX Future Fund, the now-defunct charitable arm of FTX, without Trabucco.

“I guess those 4 shared things with each other that were not shared with Trabucco,” a former employee wrote to the Globe.

Still, Trabucco and Ellison they were promoted from traders to co-CEOs of Alameda in the fall of 2021. Both lived in Hong Kong, where Alameda moved, and also spent some time working in the Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried and FTX are headquartered.

Trabucco and Ellison have said publicly that FTX and Alameda operated as separate companies, even though both were owned by Bankman-Fried.

“To be clear, I work for Alameda, not FTX,” Trabucco said in a video interview, weeks before his promotion. “They were both founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, but, yes, they are completely different.”

However, prosecutors said Alameda received special privileges on the FTX exchange, which gave it the ability to borrow “almost unlimited” amounts of money, among other perks. Investigators accused Alameda of using billions of dollars in customer funds from FTX to pay off its own loans to other lenders, as well as lending money to executives.

At her plea hearing, Ellison admitted she knew about the deal and helped facilitate it.

During his final months as co-CEO, Trabucco surrounded himself with friends and traveled.

In the spring of 2022, former MIT colleagues visited him in the Bahamas. In July, he went to Las Vegas for the Mega-Pi at MIT, a gathering held 3.14 years after graduation that combined multiple lectures because of the pandemic.

In October—two months after he left Alameda— Trabucco returned to the Bahamas for his 30th birthday, celebrating with a cake printed with his face, according to his friend’s Instagram account.

That was a month before things went wrong at Alameda and FTX. And from the collapse, Trabucco has been off social media and has not spoken publicly.

“Lots of love to all,” Trabucco wrote in his last Twitter post on November 8, when the FTX saga began to unfold. “I’m sure the past few days have been dark for many and I hope the road ahead is brighter.”


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.

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