A Bad Week for Boy Wonders

Dems are keeping the Senate, and it’s probably going to be a few days yet before we have the final House results. I am trying to catch up on what else has been going on this past week.

And was it ever a bad week for boy genius billionaires. Truly, however much your life may or may not suck, at least you’re not Sam Bankman-Fried. (Well, unless you are. Sorry about that, Sam.) SBF is a 30-year-old crypto currency guy who lost $16 billion last week. Seriously.

CNN reported, “Based on net worth calculations by Bloomberg, Bankman-Fried was worth about $16 billion at the start of the week. But as his crypto exchange, FTX, collapsed, the value of his assets was reduced to zero in what Bloomberg called ‘one of history’s greatest-ever destructions of wealth.'” I almost feel sorry for him. Also, “At least $1 billion of customer funds have vanished from collapsed crypto exchange FTX, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

The Financial Times reports, “Sam Bankman-Fried’s main international FTX exchange held just $900mn in easily sellable assets against $9bn of liabilities the day before it collapsed into bankruptcy, according to investment materials seen by the Financial Times.”

I’ll leave it to other people to decide whether SBF was trying to pull off some kind of Ponzi scheme or if he just made some bad decisions.

And then there’s Mark Zuckerberg, age 38, of the company formerly known as Facebook but which is now Meta. Last week Zuckerberg laid off 11,000 Meta employees and announced the company would stop developing smart displays and smartwatches. Fast Company::

The news out of Meta couldn’t get much worse, with hundreds of billions in value already lost this year followed by the announcement of massive layoffs at the company. Despite deep pockets and unfathomable reach, there suddenly seems to be little hope for Meta’s future right at the very moment that Mark Zuckerberg needs us to believe in the technology that he claims is his company’s (and our) future.

I comprehend the Metaverse somewhat better than I understand crypto. Maybe someday it will be something lots of people can’t live without. But right now, not so much. And I understand investors are not investing.

And then there is Elon Musk, still boyish at age 51 but no longer a wonder.  In October Musk was considering charging all verified Twitter accounts $20 a month. Then he reconsidered and decided to make it $8 a month. The paid service would be called Twitter Blue. Then Twitter added a free gray verification checkmark that Musk killed a few hours later. On November 9 Twitter Blue was officially launched. On November 11 Twitter Blue was suspended after a wave of impersonators took over the platform.

From two days ago on CNN:

The world is watching the world’s richest man single-handedly destroy one of the world’s most powerful and important communication platforms, just weeks after acquiring it for $44 billion. And of course, the world is watching the dramatic spectacle unfold on — where else? — Twitter.

It’s hard to succinctly summarize the absolute chaos that has consumed Twitter over the last 12 hours as Elon Musk continues to wreak havoc on the Silicon Valley company. “It feels like the beginning of the end, honestly,” one recently laid-off Twitter employee said Thursday evening, describing the company as the “Titanic” with “everyone looking for lifeboats.”

I’ve seen reports that Musk plans to bring Twitter Blue back as soon as the kinks are worked out. I’ve also seen reports saying that since buying Twitter Musk has sold almost $4 billion in Tesla stock, presumably to keep Twitter afloat. And bankruptcy may be an option.

See also Elon Musk heads to court over Tesla pay that made him the world’s richest person and The tech CEO spending millions to stop Elon Musk.

They’re all starting to resemble one of the great boy wonders of history, Napoleon Bonaparte, who was 45 years old when he lost at Waterloo.