Gary Wang (FTX): The Idealist, Billionaire, and Alleged Criminal
By the age of thirty, Gary Wang has traversed a path leading him from being a young prodigy in mathematics to an outstanding programmer, subsequently transitioning from the co-founder of FTX to a defendant. His life exemplifies the transient nature of luck, particularly within the realm of cryptocurrencies.
Gary Wang actively avoided the public eye. Despite his role as a co-founder and technical director of the cryptocurrency giant FTX, he refrained from giving interviews to the media and minimized his presence on social media. As a result, very little is known about the second-largest shareholder of FTX, as all the attention was focused on Sam Bankman-Fried.
However, one of the exchange's employees, who wished to remain anonymous, confessed to journalists: "If Nishad (a former FTX engineering director) would be hit by a bus, the whole company would be done. The same issue with Gary."
Here we tried to piece together everything known about the mysterious Chinese individual who is currently under investigation in the FTX collapse case.
Gary Wang and SBF: A Friendship Rooted in Childhood
Gary Wang was born in China, but his family, co-founders of FTX, relocated to the United States when he was eight years old.
During high school, Wang participated in science clubs, joined a chess team, and played the violin in the symphony orchestra. Due to his affinity for studying multivariable calculus, he earned the nickname "Hector" after a warrior from Greek mythology.
It wasn't until after FTX's bankruptcy that Wang's father partially unveiled the mystery surrounding the identity of the co-founder of the largest cryptocurrency exchange. "From a young age, he was very quiet and solely focused on his strongest interest in math and coding. He was very naïve, believing everyone around him was good," - quoted the student newspaper of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where the Wang family resides.
He was an idealist and full of care toward the world,insists Gary’s father.
Well, reclusiveness, a passion for science, naïvety, and a belief in the best traits of humanity. Nevertheless, these qualities didn’t prevent our hero from acquiring very useful connections and acquaintances.
The story of the relationship between Wang and Bankman-Fried began when the young men were still teenagers. It is reported that fifteen-year-old Gary and Sam first met at Canada/USA Mathcamp, a summer mathematics program for middle and high school students.
After finishing school, Wang, like Bankman-Fried, attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There they became members of the Epsilon Theta student fraternity. For three years, the two future co-founders of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange were even roommates. One can only imagine how many plans were made during that time.
However, after graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in mathematics and computer science, Gary Wang somewhat distanced himself from Sam. He went to Google, where he worked on one of the company's services – a price aggregator for airline tickets.
Gary Wang: Rise and Fall at FTX
However, once Bankman-Fried became a co-founder of Alameda Research in 2017, Wang left his position at Google. Later, after the founding of FTX, he became the company's chief technical officer. According to witnesses, he established himself as a key member of the crypto empire, although it was publicly stated that the final say in the company's decisions was held by Bankman-Fried.
Nishad Singh, whom Wang mentored, described him as one of the few employees who worked from home and loved to code.
"Gary always struck me as someone who was like, 'just tell me what to do and leave me alone,'" a source familiar with both Alameda's and FTX's operations told The Block.
However, it all ended in disaster. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Wang of a multi-year scheme to defraud investors in FTX stock.
In December 2022, Damian Williams, the prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, announced that Wang had pleaded guilty to fraud and was cooperating with the prosecutors.
According to his testimony, Wang was assigned to modify the FTX code from 2019 to 2022. And he did it, knowing that as a result, Alameda Research would gain special privileges.
Gary has accepted responsibility for his actions and takes seriously his obligations as a cooperating witness,commented Wang’s lawyer, Ilan Graff.
Today, after FTX’s bankruptcy, Gary Wang’s net worth is likely zero. Before the collapse of the world’s largest crypto exchange, Gary Wang’s fortune was estimated at $4.6 billion. It’s said that there's a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous. But if the direct statement is true, then the converse is also true. Who knows, maybe Gary Wang will return to the cryptocurrency market with new grandiose projects.