Virtu blasts Michael Lewis book, saying it didn't lose $10 million with FTX

Quick Take

  • “We have no idea where Lewis got his $10 million figure,” a Virtu spokesperson said in response to Michael Lewis’ claim in “Going Infinite” that the trading firm lost money with FTX.
  • Lewis’ book about Sam Bankman-Fried has been a hot topic of conversation and debate since publishing this week, just as the former FTX CEO faces a jury in a criminal trial in New York.

Virtu Financial took exception to at least one mention of the trading firm in Michael Lewis' highly-anticipated book about the rise and fall of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

In contrast to what Lewis wrote in his book, "Going Infinite," a Virtu spokesperson said the company firmwide never lost any money with FTX. "We have no idea where Lewis got his $10 million figure, but it raises questions about his level of diligence,” the spokesperson told The Block.

"Going Infinite" has been a hot topic of conversation in and out of crypto circles after publishing this week, the same week Bankman-Fried's criminal trial got underway in New York. Thus far, the book has proved to be chock full of juicy details Lewis claims to have observed or discovered while researching it.

"At the moment of its collapse, FTX had more than ten million account holders, to whom it owed $ 8.7 billion," Lewis wrote in one passage. "Nearly half of those losses, or $4 billion, were concentrated in these fifty accounts ... Near the top was Jump Trading ($ 206,160,600.00), and at the bottom was Virtu Financial Singapore ($ 10,095,336.83)."

Bankruptcy proceedings that will determine how much money creditors recoup is currently underway. Lewis' publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mounting criticism


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Since the book's arrival and Lewis' appearance on long-time news show "60 Minutes," the author has again been the subject of criticism, especially for his comments about FTX's performance as a company. The collapsed crypto exchange began bankruptcy proceedings late last year after millions of customers lost their money.

Virtu's spokesperson took another shot at Lewis' credibility, saying the author's claims about the $10 million lost are "as accurate as his understanding of market structure in 'Flash Boys.'"

Published in 2014, Lewis' book on high frequency trading has been lambasted by some critics for its depiction of the subject matter and alleged inaccuracies.

During an earnings call at the beginning of this year, Virtu's CEO Doug Cifu said that "although we had an approximate 8-figure fiat and coin balances deployed across several venues when the FTX news broke, we acted quickly and did not realize any material losses."

As a global market maker in equities and other financial products, Virtu commands a relatively low profile within crypto. In addition to making markets in crypto exchange traded funds, its CEO has described crypto as a "long-term growth opportunity."

Disclaimer: The former CEO and majority shareholder of The Block has disclosed a series of loans from former FTX and Alameda founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Authors

RT Watson is a senior reporter at The Block who covers a wide array of topics including U.S.-based companies, blockchain gaming and NFTs. Formerly covered entertainment at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote about Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. and the creator economy while focusing primarily on technological disruption across media. Previous to that he covered corporate, economic and political news in Brazil while at Bloomberg. RT has interviewed a diverse cast of characters including CEOs, media moguls, top influencers, politicians, blue-collar workers, drug traffickers and convicted criminals. Holds a master's degree in Digital Sociology.
Frank Chaparro is the Editor At Large at The Block. Chaparro started his career at Business Insider, where he specialized in the intersection of digital assets and Wall Street, market structure, and financial technology. Soon after joining Business Insider out of Fordham University, Chaparro was interviewing top finance and tech executives, including billionaire Mark Cuban, “Flash Boys” star Brad Katsuyama, Cboe Global Markets CEO Ed Tilly, and New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley. In 2018, he become a sought after reporter in the crypto world, interviewing luminaries such as Tyler Winklevoss, the cofounder of Gemini, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, and Fundstrat head Tom Lee. He runs his own podcast The Scoop and writes a biweekly eponymous newsletter. He leads special projects, including The Block's flagship podcast, The Scoop. Prior to The Block, he held roles at Business Insider, NPR, and Nasdaq. For inquiries or tips, email [email protected].


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