You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

The cover of Going Infinite by Michael Lewis

W. W. Norton

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon by Michael Lewis 

Published in October 2013

If you search Google for “Stanford” and “Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents,” you will find their faculty webpages.

Joseph Bankman is listed as the Ralph M. Parsons Professor of Law and Business. 

Barbara Fried is the William W. and Gertrude H. Saunders Professor of Law (emerita).

To most readers of Michael Lewis’s new book about the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried (and the FTX cryptocurrency trading platform he founded), the fact that he is the son of a couple of academics will be the least interesting part of the story. 

As the offspring of a professor myself, I’m having a hard time getting beyond Bankman-Fried’s parentage.

In Going Infinite, Lewis leaves it up to the reader to decide on Bankman-Fried’s guilt. Was Bankman-Fried, as the government alleges, a criminal who intentionally sought to steal billions? Or is the story of the collapse of FTX one of mismanagement, ignorance and misgovernance?

While Bankman-Fried’s parents can’t be blamed for the sins of their child, their son’s crimes (if they are indeed crimes) can be read as a cautionary tale. 

Should academic parents learn from the experience of this particular faculty kid to think about some of the lessons we might want to instill in our children? 

If nothing else, Going Infinite is proof that we academics will be as blind (or perhaps more so) to the shortcomings of our children as everyone else. 

My theory is that having chosen careers centered on ideas rather than money, Bankman-Fried’s parents were ill equipped to understand the risks their son was courting in creating a cryptocurrency exchange. 

One of the topics that I’ve assiduously attempted to limit thinking cycles on is cryptocurrency. Crypto has always struck me as something between a scam and a fantasy. Reading Going Infinite did not dissuade me from this opinion. 

Even if you have less negative feelings about crypto than I do, you will enjoy (and learn from) Going Infinite

Michael Lewis is the world’s greatest writer on the intersection of money, genius and oddball insanity. Going Infinite is well stocked with all three.

What are you reading?

Next Story

Written By

More from Learning Innovation