Media Startup Semafor to Return Sam Bankman-Fried’s $10 Million Investment

Semafor will repurchase the investment and set the money aside until it's clear who should receive it.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan Federal Court after his arraignment and bail hearings.
Sam Bankman-Fried pled not guilty to all charges against him. Getty Images

Semafor, the digital publication launched in October, is planning to return a $10 million investment from Sam Bankman-Fried, the FTX founder suspected of fraud, the New York Times reported today (Jan. 18).

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“We are planning to repurchase Sam Bankman-Fried’s interest in Semafor and to place the money into a separate account until the relevant legal authorities provide guidance as to where the money should be returned,” Justin Smith, Semafor’s co-founder and CEO, told the New York Times.

Bankman-Fried’s family foundation, Building a Stronger Future, donated to or invested in various media publications during his tenure at FTX, including ProPublica, Vox Media and the Intercept. ProPublica announced in December it would return $1.6 million in funds, and Vox said it will return most of the money, according to CNN.

The $10 million investment was Semafor’s biggest, and the media company waited more than two months to announce what it would do with the funding, saying it was waiting for guidance from legal authorities. The company initially raised $25 million for a staff of 60 people, and setting Bankman-Fried’s money aside could mean slowing its early expansion efforts.

Media Startup Semafor to Return Sam Bankman-Fried’s $10 Million Investment