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Semafor under fire for not returning investment by FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried


Semafor, a news site launched last month after getting a big infusion of money from disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, has come under fire for staying mum about whether it’ll return the now-bankrupt crypto firm’s money.

Bankman-Fried was reportedly an initial investor within the $25 million raised by Semafor’s founders — former Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith and former Latest York Times media columnist and Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith.

After FTX imploded and filed for bankruptcy this month, there have been calls for Semafor to return the money.

Semafor has not addressed the problem, stating to blogger Mickey Klaus that it’s “monitoring the evolving situation closely.”

In his blog post entitled “Send it Back Ben,” Klaus wrote: “That’s nice, but actually, I wasn’t fearful that Semafor wouldn’t have the ability to carry on to its Bankman bucks. The query more is: Will Semafor give the a refund?”

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX, invested in a slew of media corporations, including Semafor. Bloomberg via Getty Images

He continued that “legally” the problem is murky, but that “morally,” it seems “open and shut.”

“Perhaps Bankman-Fried wasn’t a felon…..however the stench of sleaze and scamming is unmistakable and familiar,” he wrote.

A Semafor rep didn’t return The Post’s request for comment.

Semafor’s credibility also got here into query after it published an article about Bankman-Fried’s relationship with Elon Musk, claiming that the crypto CEO owned $100 million in Twitter since Musk took the corporate private.

Ben SmithBen Smith’s Semafor published a chunk on Elon Musk’s ties to Sam Bankman-Fried, which was slammed by the Twitter CEO as a “lie.”Getty Images

Musk denied the report and called out Ben Smith for failing to reveal how much Bankman-Fried, referred to as SBF, invested in his company.

“As I said, neither I nor Twitter have taken any investment from SBF/FTX. Your article is a lie. Now, I’m asking again, how much of you does SBF own?” Musk tweeted Wednesday.

Ben Smith replied: “Such as you and lots of others, we took an investment from him. We have now covered him aggressively, and disclose it each time we write about him.”

As I said, neither I nor Twitter have taken any investment from SBF/FTX. Your article is a lie.

Now, I’m asking again, how much of you does SBF own?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022

At launch in October, Semafor told Reuters that it “raised $25 million from investors including David Bradley, owner of The Atlantic magazine; Jessica Lessin, founding father of technology website Information; and cryptocurrency exchange FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.”

As FTX unspooled, Bankman-Fried’s investments in other media corporations like ProPublica, Vox Media, The Intercept and The Law and Justice Project were revealed, leaving critics to query whether his money impacted their coverage.

“All of them took it,” Human Events Every day’s Jack Posobiec wrote on Twitter, “and none of them broke the story.”

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