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Former FTX US President Explains Why He Quit After Only 17 Months

Former FTX US President Explains Why He Quit After Only 17 Months

On Saturday (January 14, 2023), former FTX US President Brett Harrison discussed his brief employment at the defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX US and his conflicts with Sam Bankman-Fried (“SBF”). 

Before we examine what Harrison said yesterday, it is important to note that in September 2022, he declared his intention to resign from his position as president of FTX US in the following manner:

In a 49-tweet thread yesterday on Twitter, Brett Harrison, a former employee of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX US, discussed his experience there and the reasons behind his leave. After working for FTX US for 17 months, Harrison claims that conflicts over management tactics caused his relationship with SBF and his subordinates to worsen. Additionally, he claims that leaving FTX US was not an impulsive decision and that he had been planning to start his own business for some time.

Harrison received a casual SMS invitation to join FTX US from SBF at the end of March 2021. He discusses his time working with SBF at Jane Street and how his memories of their time together are positive. He had been watching the progress of the company with interest and was looking forward to hearing from him and finding out more about FTX. He said what initially attracted him to SBF was that he was a dedicated and intellectually curious guy who cared about animals.

Harrison’s conversations to join FTX US moved quickly in contrast to his prior experiences in traditional banking, where every decision he made took between four and six months. He spent a lot of time on his own rather than with SBF, developing a staff in the United States that was capable and prepared to tackle the next wave of regulation because he was anxious to return to the bitcoin industry. He claims that his first few months of work at FTX US were fantastic because the spot exchange was expanding its market share, the staff was devoted and industrious, and the reception from consumers was outstanding.

Harrison claims that despite SBF’s limited engagement in US business, he was aware early on that decision with significant implications for the US were made in The Bahamas with little to no communication. Significant cracks in his relationship with SBF started to develop six months into his employment with the company. Around that time, he began arguing persuasively for separating the FTX US executive, legal, and programming teams, but SBF remained opposed. In this first encounter, Harrison observed SBF’s acute insecurity, rigidity when his opinions were questioned, spitefulness, and unstable temperament. He was aware that he wasn’t the same person he remembered, but he wasn’t sure what had changed in him to cause such a noticeable change.

Harrison has experienced the unexpected onset of addiction and mental illness in his own early adulthood, just like many of us who have loved ones who are battling these conditions. He initially felt sorry for SBF, but then he realised he didn’t know him well enough or had much time to reflect on the situation. He was working with him, but he disagreed with some of the business decisions he was making.

Harrison was under a lot of pressure to concur with SBF, yet he still expressed his disapproval. He points out that, during his time at FTX US, SBF had such control over the press, FTX’s partners, and the venture capital ecosystem that it was challenging to make a case against him. Harrison made the decision to leave the company because his relationship with SBF had come to a standstill, and he was so committed to launching his own company that he didn’t believe it was worthwhile to put his reputation at risk by continuing in a “dream job” with all its trappings.

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