FTX Made a Very Smart Investment That May Be Able to Pay Back Its Customers

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Though disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried generally didn't exactly handle his customers' money well — or, according to some former coworkers, legally — there may actually be one very bright spot on the defunct crypto exchange's balance sheet: a massive investment into a buzzy AI startup which, according to new reporting from Semafor, may ultimately spell good news for former FTX customers.

Per Semafor, FTX appears to have made a $500 million dollar investment into Anthropic, an OpenAI rival that made waves back in January when its model was reported to have passed a blindly-graded George Mason University law and economics exam with flying colors (a claim, it's worth noting, that was made weeks before the OpenAI-built GPT-4's test-taking prowess was publicly known.)

And FTX isn't the only high-profile Anthropic investor. Seemingly in a move to level the playing field in its battle with the financially tethered Microsoft and OpenAI, a little company known as Google, among other investors, invested $300 million into the AI firm back in February.

As a result of those cash infusions, in addition to the buzz around the AI market, Anthropic's stock has been headed way up. As it stands, the AI firm is reportedly valued at a staggering $4.6 billion – and per Semafor, FTX's major stake in the high-dollar firm could ultimately provide bankruptcy trustees with a way to pay FTX's slighted customers back.

Uncertainty

But that said, as Semafor points out, it might not be that simple.

When more traditional companies, which tend to have more traditional-slash-real assets — real estate, bonds, and more of the like — go bankrupt, there's a fairly standardized, precedented rulebook for bankruptcy proceedings. Those proceedings often include some kind of "prepackaged" bankruptcy strategy designed to eke as much worth out of an asset's value as possible while also attempting to make customers whole.

FTX, alternatively, as an unregulated business within an unregulated industry, reportedly didn't have any such plan, and its assets are generally pretty far from traditional. And to that end, it's also worth noting that the AI industry is still at the beginning of a gold rush. Anthropic has a stronger footing in the market than most, but whether it can stick it out with a multi-billion dollar valuation in the long run remains to be seen.

Still, FTX customers haven't had good news in a while — and maybe, just this one time, a Bankman-Fried financial decision could actually pay off for them. Or at the very least, pay them back.

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