Who Is Caroline Ellison? the Mind Behind FTX’s Collapse.

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Caroline Ellison was the CEO of Alameda Analysis, a buying and selling agency launched by Sam Bankman-Fried. She anticipated to testify in SBF’s trial this week.
Tyler Le, Jenny Chang-Rodriguez/Insider

  • Caroline Ellison was the CEO of Alameda Analysis, a buying and selling agency launched by Sam Bankman-Fried. 
  • She oversaw bets Alameda took with buyer funds. She pleaded responsible to seven prison counts. 
  • She’ll testify in Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial this week. Right here is her background story. 

As Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire began to unravel final 12 months, his colleague, now 28-year-old Caroline Ellison, emerged as a determine of intrigue and hypothesis. 

In August 2022, Ellison turned the top of Alameda Analysis, Bankman-Fried’s buying and selling agency that was carefully intertwined along with his crypto change, FTX. By November, as FTX swiftly spiraled into chapter 11, Ellison started to attract consideration for her position in overseeing the risky bets Alameda took with customers’ funds. She’s since pleaded guilty to seven charges and has struck a deal to cooperate with federal prosecutors. 

Over the previous a number of months, Ellison has largely retreated from the general public eye, even whereas Bankman-Fried — whom she occasionally dated in prior years — remained lively on the media circuit. Now, because the trial of Bankman-Fried enters its second week, Ellison will testify as a key witness.

Here is what we learn about Caroline Ellison. 

Ellison primarily grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.

Boston’s skyline, the place Caroline Ellison grew up in close by Newton.
Getty Pictures.

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly lived in Ellison’s former dwelling, she wrote on her now archived Tumblr weblog, worldoptimization.

Her mother and father are each teachers at Massachusetts Institute of Know-how.

The Massachusetts Institute of Know-how is rated No. 2 within the US in the newest US Information & World Report faculty rankings.
William B. Plowman/Getty Pictures

Her father, Glenn Ellison, is the department head of economics on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how and her mom, Sara Fisher Ellison, is a senior lecturer in economics at MIT.

Ellison and her two sisters “undoubtedly bought uncovered to loads of economics” rising up, she told Forbes. When Ellison was 8, she gave her father an economics research analyzing stuffed animal costs at Toys ‘R’ Us for his birthday in lieu of a card, Forbes reported.


Ellison exhibited a particular ardour for arithmetic from an early age.

Her father inspired her to enter math competitions.
Pixabay via Google Images

And her father supported her curiosity within the topic, too.

He inspired her and her siblings to enter math competitions — which Ellison continued all through center faculty and highschool, according to the Washington Put up. 


Ellison graduated from Newton North Excessive Faculty in 2012, and went on to Stanford College, the place she studied arithmetic.

At Stanford College in Palo Alto, California, Ellison selected to comply with a ardour: arithmetic.
Ben Margot/AP

Ellison said she picked Stanford as a result of she wished to get away from Boston and “attempt one thing totally different,” she stated on The FTX Podcast in 2020.

Although she contemplated learning linguistics, political science, or laptop science when she was a freshman, she stated on the podcast that she opted for arithmetic as a result of there have been extra alternatives to take different courses on the aspect.


Ellison additionally started exploring efficient altruism in faculty.

Ellison was vp of the EA Membership at Stanford, however it’s since turn into unclear how a lot she believed within the motion.
Orbon Alija/ Getty Pictures

It is a philosophy that examines how people can use their time, money, and resources to best help others. She ultimately joined Stanford’s Efficient Altruism Membership and have become its vp, according to Forbes. 

In later years, the extent to which Ellison believed in EA has turn into unclear. She appears to have renamed her Tumblr blog from “worldoptimization” to “Faux Charity Nerd Lady” at one level. 


Ellison went on to work on the buying and selling agency Jane Road after faculty.

Ellison graduated from faculty in 2016.
Tetra Pictures/Getty Pictures

Ellison spent round 18 months as a dealer on Jane Road’s equities desk and said on the FTX Podcast that she “liked it.”

Ellison additionally met Sam Bankman-Fried at Jane Road, and the 2 reportedly bonded over their curiosity in effective altruism, for which SBF became a poster boy.


By 2018, Bankman-Fried had already launched a crypto buying and selling agency referred to as Alameda Analysis and persuaded Ellison to affix the agency.

A youthful picture of Sam Bankman-Fried. He and Caroline Ellison labored collectively at Jane Road.

The swap from Jane Road to Alameda was initially problem for Ellison, she has stated.

“I wished to be an knowledgeable on every little thing, however there was nonetheless a number of stuff within the crypto world that I knew nothing about,” she said on The FTX Podcast, including that she “needed to study an entire new set of intuitions.” 

Simply a few weeks after Ellison began, although, Caroline Ellison called her mother, concerned that she’d made the biggest mistake of her life, based on Michael Lewis’s biography of Bankman-Fried, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon,” which was launched earlier this month. 



After Bankman-Fried established the crypto change, FTX, in 2019, Ellison started taking extra duty at Alameda.

Ellison and colleague Sam Trabucco have been featured on Forbes “30 Below 30” record in 2022.
Screenshot of Caroline Ellison and Sam Trabucco on Forbes 30 Below 30.

Ellison and her colleague Sam Trabucco took over from Bankman-Fried as co-CEOs of Alameda in late 2021, and the duo have been featured in Forbes’ 30 Below 30 list in 2022.


Nonetheless, Bankman-Fried “remained the final word decision-maker” at Alameda, directing funding and operational choices, the Securities and Change Fee has stated.

Bankman-Fried was as soon as a crypto wunderkind, however now has been dragged into court docket on a sequence of prices.
Tom Williams/Getty Pictures

“Although Ellison made some buying and selling choices, she often consulted with Bankman-Fried, notably about strategic points and vital trades,” the regulator stated in an SEC complaint.

Bankman-Fried moved his crypto operations from Hong Kong to the Bahamas in 2021 the place Ellison was among the many 10-person crew of FTX and Alameda staff who all lived collectively.

Prosecutors shared photographs of Sam Bankman-Fried’s $35 million penthouse within the prison trial in opposition to the FTX cofounder.
Courtesy of the US Division of Justice

All of the members were reportedly paired off in relationships with one another sooner or later. Ellison had an on-and-off relationship with Bankman-Fried and he even made her a list of the pros and cons to dating him, based on Michael Lewis’s e-book about Bankman-Fried.

“In loads of methods I do not actually have a soul,” Bankman-Fried as soon as wrote to Ellison, based on Lewis. “There is a fairly respectable argument that my empathy is pretend, my emotions are pretend, my facial reactions are pretend. I do not really feel happiness. What is the level in relationship somebody who you bodily cannot make pleased?”


Ellison and the opposite housemates reportedly shared a therapist named George Lerner, who additionally helped staff navigate profession choices, workplace drama, and their relationship lives.

Lerner turned shut with the FTX crew, a Vice report stated.
Getty Pictures

Lerner has likened himself to an “in-resident coach” and labored with the FTX crew for about 32 hours per week whereas sustaining a small personal observe on the aspect, a Vice report stated.

He has additionally stated the collapse of FTX was “devastating” and that its staff felt “like a household.”


Ellison largely remained out of the limelight as FTX rose to fame.

Sam Bankman-Fried was the principle attraction, feted by dignitaries and politicians; Ellison stayed largely within the shadows.
Michael Blann/ Getty Pictures

“Caroline did not have loads of gravitas,” one former staffer told The Monetary Instances, who thought she was “an intern” once they first met. 


Ellison’s compensation at Alameda additionally stays a topic of continued inquiry.

A lawsuit filed by FTX in July in opposition to former deputies together with Ellison signifies she transferred $22.5 million into her private accounts.
AndreyPopov/ iStock

Courtroom paperwork filed in March present that Ellison received about $6 million as the CEO of Alameda, whereas her colleagues, together with Nishad Singh, FTX’s former director of engineering, and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, obtained a whole lot of thousands and thousands.

In the meantime, Bankman-Fried himself transferred $2.2 billion into his accounts, per these filings. 

Nonetheless, a lawsuit that FTX subsequently filed in July against its former deputies, together with Ellison, reveals that she allegedly improperly took $22.5 million in bonus funds from Alameda. She invested thousands and thousands of that into an AI startup, according to Bloomberg, which famous that OpenAI rival Anthropic is Ellison’s solely funding on PitchBook. 

Till FTX’s unraveling, Ellison maintained an lively on-line persona.

Ellison typically speculated about shifts in tradition and society Tumblr — forsaking a path of sizzling takes matters starting from race to crypto.

She left behind a trail of hot takes on crypto, polyamory, and race, apparently posting on X beneath the deal with @carolinecapital, and apparently on two Tumblr accounts, worldoptimization, and worldoptimization-lifeadvice. 

On her Tumblr, worldoptimization, she stated that crypto was “principally scams and memes whenever you get all the way down to it” however she’s additionally seen “an actual and urgent want for crypto.”

She additionally in contrast the polyamory within the Bahamas home to an “imperial Chinese language harem,” noting on worldoptimization, that there was a longtime hierarchy and everybody knew the place they fell inside it.


Ellison can also be reader who typically posted e-book critiques on her Tumblr and is a Harry Potter fan.

She stated she learn the second e-book within the Harry Potter sequence by the age of 5.

Ellison said on The FTX Podcast that her mother and father learn the primary Harry Potter e-book aloud to her when she was simply 3, and he or she learn the second e-book by herself on the age of 5.

Her literary tastes, nonetheless, vary far and large. Among the many final books she reviewed on worldoptimization are “The Golden Enclaves” by Naomi Novik and “Venomous Lumpsucker” by Ned Beuman, and he or she additionally appeared to benefit from the work of journalist Matthew Yglesias.  


In August 2022, Sam Trabucco stepped down as co-CEO, and Ellison started to run Alameda on her personal.

Catherine McQueen/ Getty Pictures

Ellison stated that working with Trabucco was “an extremely formative expertise” in a submit on X on the time. 



Ellison’s on-line presence has dwindled since FTX’s collapse.

Ellison has turn into a digital ghost since FTX started to unravel.
Tyler Le, Jenny Chang-Rodriguez/Insider

Her final submit on X was on November 6, 2022, when she got here out in protection FTX’s steadiness sheet — in mild of the bombshell Coindesk report that set off FTX’s implosion.

Bankman-Fried had told Ellison to publicly reassure traders about Alameda’s monetary stability. Within the submit she famous that the steadiness sheet was just for “a subset of our company entities” and that “we’ve got > $10 billion of property” and “hedges” that weren’t listed.


Ellison pleaded responsible to seven prices within the collapse of FTX, together with wire fraud, based on her plea settlement with the Southern District of New York filed on December 18.

Ellison was dealing with as much as 110 years in federal jail.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Pictures

Earlier than Ellison struck a plea deal with the Department of Justice to cooperate with authorities, she was dealing with as much as 110 years in jail. 


Ellison’s Google Doc entries surfaced earlier this 12 months in the middle of the case in opposition to Bankman-Fried and different prime FTX associates.

Ellison’s Google Doc entries reveal the non-public {and professional} struggles she endured at Alameda.
katleho Seisa/Getty Pictures

Her entries, first reported by The New York Instances, describe a sense of alienation and weariness with Sam Bankman-Fried and his enterprise.

She wrote in 2022 that, “On the finish of the day I can not wait to go dwelling and switch off my cellphone and have a drink and get away from all of it,” based on the report. She additionally famous that her romantic historical past with Bankman-Fried made Alameda “too related to you in a method that was painful.”

Ellison additionally appeared to doubt about her capability to guide Alameda, noting that she struggled with “management” and “decisiveness” in a doc from April 2022, based on the Instances. “Working Alameda would not really feel like one thing I am that comparatively advantaged at or properly suited to do,” she wrote, the Instances reported.


In a recording of an all-hands assembly that prosecutors shared within the case in opposition to Bankman-Fried, Ellison blamed him for manipulating buyer funds.

Ellison blamed Bankman-Fried for utilizing buyer funds based on a submitting from August.
Photograph illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto through Getty Pictures)

The assembly — which befell simply days earlier than FTX went bankrupt — was recorded by a former staffer, according to a court filing from August previously reported by Insider.

“Alameda will possible wind down as soon as we will, like, repay all of our collectors and kind of wind down a bunch of our, like, no matter remaining obligations we’ve got,” Ellison stated within the assembly, based on prosecutors. When an worker requested who determined to make use of FTX buyer deposits, Ellison responded with “Um…Sam, I suppose,” based on the submitting. 

Within the submitting, prosecutors additionally shared a memo that Ellison wrote, “Issues Sam Is Freaking Out About,” which they stated particulars her ideas on the alleged scheme between FTX and Alameda.

They plan to introduce the memo into the trial as proof that Ellison was appearing on Bankman-Fried’s behalf, prosecutors stated. 

Ellison is anticipated to take the stand Tuesday as a key witness within the trial in opposition to Bankman-Fried.

Attorneys are anticipated to name Ellison to the stand this week.

Ellison has already figured as a key character within the trial — which started on October 3. Through the opening statements of the trial, Bankman-Fried’s attorney, Mark Cohen, portrayed Ellison as a “math nerd” who didn’t consider threat administration.

He additionally argued that Bankman-Fried had requested Ellison to hedge Alameda’s positions to forestall it from dropping cash, however Ellison had didn’t hear. 

Ellison lawyer didn’t reply to Insider’s request for a remark. 

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