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Four things you didn’t know about crypto exec Sam Trabucco

Trabucco is the former co-CEO of Alameda Research.Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Sam Trabucco, one of the top executives in Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire, spent most of his life in Massachusetts.

The Natick native graduated from the Roxbury Latin School and MIT before serving as co-chief executive of Alameda Research, the trading firm associated with crypto exchange FTX. Trabucco, 30, became the face of Alameda, regularly doing interviews on YouTube and posting Twitter threads about crypto, before he stepped down last summer.

That was soon before Bankman-Fried’s companies imploded in November, leading to bankruptcy proceedings and a criminal investigation. Several of the principals have been charged with fraud, but Trabucco has not been accused of wrongdoing and has not spoken publicly about the collapse.

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This week the Globe published a profile on Trabucco, who now seems to be the odd man out in the FTX saga. Here’s a list of interesting tidbits about his background that didn’t make the cut.

He wrote for MIT’s student newspaper.

Trabucco, who graduated from MIT in 2015, contributed to the student paper, The Tech. He worked on a feature called the “LaVerde’s Price Index,” which was intended to be a student’s version of the Consumer Price Index. It tracked the price changes of roughly two dozen grocery items from LaVerde’s Market, a popular store on campus.

Though Trabucco was gifted in math, he came across as lacking in some basic life skills, in one of his articles titled, “Green Eggs and Sam: Wandering the aisles.” In the 2011 article, Trabucco recounted the “perils of first-time grocery shopping.” The freshman seemed unaware that milk had an expiration date, or that he shouldn’t buy the “yellowest bananas” if he wanted them to last all week.

He was really, really into poker.

Trabucco learned how to play poker during an internship at Susquehanna International Group, a trading firm based in Philadelphia that used it as a tool to teach people about trading strategies. He continued to play in college with friends at casinos.

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That was until card-counting got him in trouble. “It turns out that if you’re at a casino and they suspect you were counting cards, they will ban you for life, like when you’re playing blackjack,” Trabucco said during an interview in 2021. “There are casinos that I’m banned from.”

Poker was Trabucco’s first exposure to winning — and losing — money. But when the math major began applying probability theory to betting, he concluded that as long as he never risked too much, he’d never lose all his savings, a mindset he’d later apply to crypto.

“If you’re a good poker player on average, this means your chances of going totally, totally bankrupt are essentially zero,” he said during an interview in 2021.

MIT gave Trabucco bitcoin in 2014.

Well, sort of. Trabucco opted into the MIT Bitcoin project, a program in which two of his classmates offered all undergrads $100 worth of free bitcoin in 2014 (which would be worth over $7,000 today).

Trabucco later told CNBC that while he managed to triple his handout playing online poker, most of his classmates spent theirs on sushi at Thelonious Monkfish, a Central Square restaurant that was accepting bitcoin at the time.

Trabucco wasn’t known in MIT’s bitcoin circles.

Trabucco, Bankman-Fried, and FTX cofounder Gary Wang all went to MIT. Trabucco lived in MIT’s Burton Conner House in Cambridge, while Bankman-Fried and Wang lived in the Epsilon Theta co-ed fraternity house in Brookline.

Around the time the MIT Bitcoin project was taking off, a community of crypto enthusiasts began to form at the school. But according to a source familiar with the matter, Trabucco and the others were not known figures in this group, in part because they didn’t get into crypto until after they graduated.

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Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.