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Bankman-Fried May Suffer from Faculty-Brat Syndrome

There are plenty of professors' children who have achieved success, without stealing billions.
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Disgraced FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried (now known to some as Scam Bankrun Fraud) is a son of professors.

Both of his parents teach at Stanford University law school. Other highly successful people (remember that SBF was successful on the way up) who aren’t accused of stealing billions of dollars also are faculty brats.

Harvard professor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is the son of economics professors at the University of Pennsylvania.

The parents of Google co-founder Larry Page taught computer science at Michigan State University. And the father of his fellow founder Sergey Brin taught math at the University of Maryland.

The parents of SBF’s associate Caroline Ellison are economists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

I’m a faculty brat myself, with a much more humble resume than the names above. And some of my friends are faculty brats as well.

Child-Rearing Tendencies

I’ve noticed a few interesting trends, though all of what I’m about to tell you is vast over-generalization, which you’ll undoubtedly recognize yourself. And to the extent that any of it is true, you could argue it’s just as applicable to non-academic families too.

But now that I’ve hedged being completely wrong, here are the ideas.

Professors, who must have a strong work ethic to complete their PhDs often instill the same work ethic in their children.

Achieving major success in a top field is often expected in academic families. Freedom of thought and creativity are often encouraged. It can seem like there are no bounds in coming up with ideas.

All that is well and good. But there is a downside, and here’s the connection to SBF. Parents of faculty brats sometimes permit anti-social behavior. Some behavioral transgressions are ok, as long as you’re a successful intellectual.

I have no idea if that was the case with SBF, but given what has been written about his parents, it’s easy to picture them as overly indulgent.

Again, nothing I’ve written here goes beyond speculation, but you might enjoy thinking about the topic anyway.

The author of this piece hasn’t stolen billions of dollars.