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Cryptogambling / Report: FTX pulls out of partnership deal with pop star Taylor Swift

Report: FTX pulls out of partnership deal with pop star Taylor Swift

Publish Date: 07/07/2023
Swift on the Eras Tour (2023), tags: ftx partnership taylor - CC BY-SA

Swift on the Eras Tour (2023) – CC BY-SA

The partnership between singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and crypto exchange FTX fell through because the exchange’s executives decided not to move forward with it, according to a New York Times report.

The revelation contradicts public statements made about the failed deal, in which the pop star claimed that her side pulled out from the agreement after thorough due diligence regarding FTX’s listed assets. The partnership deal is reportedly worth over $100 million.

Sources said Swift had indeed agreed to the deal. Her representative sent a signed agreement to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s email address. Before Bankman-Fried responded to the email, a group of FTX executives persuaded him not to proceed with the multimillion-dollar deal.

The failed deal with Taylor Swift sheds light on FTX’s drive for celebrity partnerships before its eventual collapse, say analysts. Prior to the bankruptcy, FTX successfully struck deals with prominent figures such as NFL superstar Tom Brady, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, tennis player Naomi Osaka and NBA sensations Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry.

Internal debate at FTX

The negotiations with Swift unveiled the unorthodox decision-making processes within FTX and the clashes between Bankman-Fried’s inner circle and experienced executives brought in from outside the company.

Despite the initial enthusiasm displayed by Bankman-Fried and Claire Watanabe, a senior executive at FTX and a fan of Swift’s music, there were dissenting voices within FTX’s marketing team. Some employees felt that the proposed deal was too expensive from the outset. FTX employees also questioned whether the previous celebrity partnerships had delivered a return on investment.

Additionally, skeptics within the company questioned whether Swift would reach the target demographic of potential cryptocurrency traders. These doubts came from the perception that Swift’s involvement would not add significant value to FTX’s user base.

Further insights into the negotiations showed that FTX had sought a limited degree of endorsement from Swift on social media. However, an anonymous source said Swift never entertained the idea of endorsing the exchange. Instead, the discussions centered around a potential tour sponsorship, which ultimately did not materialize.

Representatives for both Sam Bankman-Fried and Taylor Swift declined to comment on the details of the failed partnership.

FTX’s fate, future plans

FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2022. Bankman-Fried is currently facing multiple federal charges, including allegations of fraud and campaign finance violations. Three other FTX executives — Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison and Nishad Singh — have pleaded guilty to various federal charges. They are cooperating with the government’s prosecution of Bankman-Fried.

The company is reportedly considering rebranding as part of its efforts to restart the business. CEO John J. Ray III has initiated discussions with potential investors and interested parties to relaunch the FTX.com exchange.

Existing customers may be offered a stake in the new entity as compensation for their previous claims. Sources suggest that the relaunched exchange would undergo rebranding, but there is no sign of a restart for FTX’s U.S. business. The news has resulted in a 15 percent increase in the value of FTX’s native token FTT, which hit a seven-week high before declining.

FTX’s potential relaunch is expected to be at least a year away. Ray first mentioned the possibility of a reboot in January of this year. Keystone Law partner Louise Abbott said FTX may file its restructuring plans in the third quarter of 2023. The company may announce its decision by the summer of next year.

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