I have one primary insight about the spectacular collapse of crypto exchange FTX and defenestration of founder Samuel Bankman-Fried:
Hyphenated last names are funny.
When my nephew Noah was a student at Roeper, so many of his classmates had "double-barreled names" that his friend Noah adopted the pseudonym Noah Turkey-Bacon to fit in.
That was in the early 2000s, which supports my unsubstantiated theory that last-name hyphenation caught a wave of feminism in the 80s, with women empowered by making up half of American undergraduates and Olivia Newton-John; crested in the mid-90s with Lilith Fair and Joseph Gordon-Levitt; and had long since peaked by the time the New York Times asked "Babies' Surnames: To Hyphenate or Not?" in 2011.
When Stanford Professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried were pregnant — "we're pregnant"? — in 1992, her contemporary was relegating "Rodham" and El Salvador was emerging from more than a decade of civil war. How to honor his ancestors and her identity? They could hardly have anticipated that hyphenating their only child's last name would lead directly to his $32 billion crypto-trading empire collapsing and their being outed for buying a $17 million Bahamian condo in a gated community that was once home to a British colonial fort built in the 1700s to protect against pirates.
That’s Parenting and Pirating 101: Decisions Have Consequences
In my family, two Hecht sisters kept their last names and four out of seven cousins got Hecht as our middle name. My niece inherited Rose, instead of Rosenzweig, which is humane.
Benjamin Hecht Falik is ten years older than Samuel Bankman-Fried. Both have feral hair and strong camp counselor vibes. The difference? Falik has never lost any billions of dollars — his own or his investors. But what about Hecht-Falik? By now, that guy would either own an island or be imprisoned on one (possibly both).
But I had to hear from someone who had lived with a double-barrelled name— other than Turkey-Bacon — so I tracked down Jesse Robert Coffino (Jesse Coffino-Greenberg, when I knew him at Columbia).
“My advice, don’t do it to your kids. My name never fit in the bubbles on tests, etc. Never knew where my name would be alphabetized. And then to fit my last name, they would often just cut off the last two letters of my first name.”
How he handled it when starting his own family:
“Marriage in California allows either or both parties to change last names without any other court procedure, so I dropped my dad's last name Greenberg. He is technically Catholic. I took his first name as my middle name. My older brother did the same thing when he got married.
“And then Sam and our kids took Coffino, which is actually Romainiote Jewish. The only Coffinos out there are all related to our family, whereas there are plenty of Greenbergs. My dad was an only child and my mom has siblings and we have many cousins and they are all Coffinos.”
Whether he feels any solidarity with or empathy for other hyphenates:
Whether he has any hyphen-based interest in Sam Bankman-Fried:
“Nope not at all”