30 doing 30

30 doing 30

A shocking number of recent Forbes 30 under 30 list are under indictment or in prison for high-profile crimes. These weren’t just little offenses or mistakes, they amounted to fraud that totals in the $18.5 billion dollar range.

  • Elizabeth Holmes – convicted of fraud linked to her blood testing company
  • Trevor Milton – convicted of fraud for his zero-emission truck
  • Caroline Ellison – pled guilty to 7 criminal charges (max sentence of 110 years)
  • Sam Bankman-Fried – charged with bribery, money laundering, unlawful political contributions, and other charges surrounding crypto-currency FTX.
  • Charlie Javice – her company Frank acquired by JP Morgan, who made her a managing director, found guilty of fraud.

A lot of this fraud surprises me because anyone with any amount of due-diligence should have seen how fraudulent, and almost impossible, most of their claims were. I’m guessing that a decent number of investors knew this but also knew these claims were probably bunk, but investing in a rising star (even if false) and exiting at the right time can still be a heck of a cash cow. A good investor can make money even on a dead horse if they know how to work the system by getting in early to ride the hype and exit before the inevitable collapse.

Fraud and lying to make money or gain power is nothing new; but maybe this will help quell the rising voices that have claimed the younger generation and creators/disruptors are immune from this kind of behavior. This cohort of 30 under 30 seems to be the worst in history.

It turns out that the market behavior and basic science are still the same as they ever were – despite all the hype and claims we want to make.

In my opinion, it seems like there is a little bit of a common thread between all these scandals. A number of them seem to be partially or wholly delusional about their own products and abilities. Many got themselves clearly out of their depth – but became hype machines for ‘disruption’ that turned out to be same old basic fraud, market manipulation, and Ponzi schemes with new labels. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing movies like Glass Onion that have painted a less than rosy picture of influencer and streamer culture. But just like Valery Legasov¬†said the in the wonderful Chernobyl miniseries:

When the truth offends, we lie and lie until we can no longer remember it is even there, but it is, still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid

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