The co-founder of Alameda Research and FTX
A mysterious ex-Googler who also served as chief technology officer for both firms
Reportedly Bankman-Fried’s childhood friend
Gray Wang is not like his co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who loves fame and putting himself at the center of public attention (even when people are begging him to stop tweeting). In fact, there’s little public information about Wang, who has been described as a shady but critical player in the rise and fall of FTX.
Wang met Bankman-Fried at a math camp in high school. Later, they became college roommates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Wang got degrees in mathematics and computer science and Bankman-Fried received a bachelor's in physics.
See also: Who's Who in the FTX Inner Circle
Before co-founding Alameda Research (and later FTX), Wang worked at Google. He claims to have built a system to aggregate prices across public flight data, according to an introduction on the Future Fund's website. When Bankman-Fried left the Jane Street Hedge Fund to start Alameda in 2017, Wang left the tech giant.
The startup has its beginnings in a three-bedroom Berkeley apartment – the downstairs served as its office. The firm shifted to Hong Kong, in part to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities in Asian bitcoin markets – including the price discrepancy between BTC in Japan and BTC everywhere else.
It’s there that Wang and Bankman-Fried funneled funds from Alameda to build its bespoke derivatives exchange. Bankman-Fried told Insider that he is not a good coder: "I don't code. I'm trash. I have not written any of FTX's code base. That's all a lot of other really impressive people at FTX. That's not me at all."
Nishad Singh, the head of engineering at FTX, said Wang was a "really good mentor" who offered suggestions and advice to push things out on short timescales.
In the aftermath of FTX’s collapse, and the subsequent $400 million hack, questions are circulating around who could possibly have abused client funds. Wang is a prominent suspect, as one of the few people with "root access" to the exchange’s code base, according to The Block.
Wang is also one of the board members of FTX Future Fund – the charity guided by “effective altruism” that aims to "use reason and evidence to do the most good possible for the most people."
Wang, one of the 10 roommates in Bankman-Fried’ luxury penthouse in the Bahamas, is reportedly among the four people cited by Caroline Ellison who knew about the decision to send customer funds to Alameda, according to people who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.
A few Wang photos are circulating on the internet, though little else is known about the mysterious co-founder who preferred to stay in the shadows as SBF chased the limelight. In a now infamous picture on FTX’s website, CTO Wang is seen with his back facing the camera as he focuses on the monitors in front of him.
At the age of 28, Wang topped Forbes' 2022 list of the world's billionaires under 30 with a net worth of $5.9 billion in April. SBF sent his congratulations to Wang in public, tweeting that "I couldn't be prouder" when the list came out.