FTX co-founder and former CTO Gary Wang is testifying against his childhood friend Sam Bankman-Fried today in court.
Wang’s testimony will be the first by a member of Bankman-Fried’s inner-circle — a tight-knit group of executives who, according to sources, pulled the strings at FTX. Alongside Alameda chief Caroline Ellison, Wang has become a critical witness in the prosecution’s case against Bankman-Fried.
Unlike his childhood friend, Wang has decided to cooperate with the government. He has pled guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, commodities fraud, and securities fraud — charges that add up to a maximum of 50 years behind bars.
As co-founder and former CTO, many are anticipating Wang’s testimony to provide insights into the case. But Wang has kept himself out of the spotlight — both before FTX exploded and after.
So what do we know about Gary Wang and his testimony?
Meet Gary Wang, once the world’s richest person under 30
Given name Zixiao, Wang was eightt years old when his family moved from China to Minnesota. His father, Qiang Wang, described him as “very quiet” from a young age, “solely focused on his strongest interest in math and coding.”
In 2008, the same year that Wang’s family moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, he attended a prestigious math camp. Here he met Bankman-Fried and in subsequent years, the pair met Sam Trabucco, who would later become the co-CEO of Alameda.
The trio decided to all attend MIT after high school. Wang and Bankman-Fried pledged Epsilon Theta and were roommates for three years.
Upon graduating with a degree in mathematics and computer science, Wang worked at Google as a software engineer. In 2019, however, he decided to leave in order to found FTX together with his childhood friend.
During FTX’s baller era, Wang was making bank. In 2022, he was named the world’s richest person under 30 by Forbes, raking in an estimated $5.9 billion a year.
Gary Wang’s role in fraud at FTX
According to sources (and his own mother), Wang wasn’t involved in the management of the firm. Instead, he only had eyes for the code. As its CTO, Wang was also responsible for ensuring FTX could accommodate increased bandwidth.
Apart from Wang’s Forbes profile, very little was known about him prior to FTX’s collapse. Many who worked at FTX described Wang as an elusive figure who kept to himself.
That doesn’t mean Wang didn’t play a role in FTX’s fraud, though. The co-founder has testified that he was told to alter FTX’s code to give Alameda ‘special privileges’ like the right to borrow $65 billion — way more money than FTX ever had.
When Wang pled guilty to fraud, he said he made the changes to the code “knowing that others were representing to investors and customers that Alameda had no such special privileges and people were likely investing in and using FTX based in part on those misrepresentations.”