Bill Ackman Is A Man of the People? Not So Fast

By Kelly Ferraro Kelly Ferraro has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 20, 2023

For those of you around the markets during the aughts, you may recall the attention Wall Street firms and individuals received from the authorities. It takes one questionable move in financial services to get your own day-to-day surveillance, provided gratis by the U.S. government. Just ask Bill Ackman.

Introducing Mr. Bill Ackman

When it comes to opinions on Mr. Ackman, the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, there are usually two categories: those who believe he is a genius and others who want to tell him (not so) politely where to go.

A defining moment in the earlier part of the 2000s was the infamous Carl Icahn-Bill Ackman feud over Herbalife, referred to by CNBC as “the battle of the billionaires.” After shouting at one another on live TV, months later the two later “hugged it out” on air. It was a real moment for financial services. Ackman eventually relented on his short position. Icahn grew his bank account.

Don’t worry. Bill was okay too. He’s still pushing the buttons of the American financial system.

So, Now Ackman Is Defending SBF?

While that particular situation is all water under the proverbial bridge at this point, Ackman, who is not one to shy away from the limelight (or the SEC), has once again emerged. This time he tried to showcase, in a series of Tweets, why we should not be so quick to condemn Sam Bankman-Fried and ask ourselves if he is perhaps doing some “truth-telling.”

Ackman stops short of defending SBF but his viewpoints have prompted a discussion much deeper than SBF – one that challenges not just those that are quick to condemn SBF but the U.S. legal and financial systems at large.

This discourse, of course, is based on Ackman’s own experiences. He cites witness and government incentives as driving forces behind his own investigations.

I firmly believe we should honor the “innocent until proven guilty” principle the American legal system. However, SBF has to deal with his own reckoning given the cards stacked against him – a house of cards he built himself. As John Adams, the second U.S. president, once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Spot on, Mr. President.

Apples and Oranges?

The FTX situation, unlike Ackman’s own dealings with Spitzer and U.S. officials, is one in which the company withdrew $6 billion dollars worth of funds in 72 hours.

A liquidity crunch quickly showcased FTX’s insolvency, wreaked havoc on the crypto industry and pushed others into bankruptcy, jolting an already badly shaken industry. Just yesterday, Gemini officially announced that they too have taken the ultimate hit.

So, What’s the Deal with Ackman?

When players like Ackman jump into the fray to defend “due process” and “fairness,” who are they really helping?

All situations can be compared, to be fair.

In the recent Tweets, Ackman goes into detail about his own situation, setting the tone for questions that may prompt those reading them to say, “SBF may just be telling the truth.”

While it prompts pause, is this fair to the industry or the people who lost their shirts on what is shaping up to be one of the largest business scams in history?

A Great Disservice

As Ackman’s Tweets continue to get noticed, we should be asking ourselves one thing: Should we be relying on someone like Bill Ackman or should we be getting our information from the current CEO and master fixer, John Ray?

Are these pundits doing a disservice to the public with their statements, or are they inciting an already agitated public?

What We Learned

Ackman’s Tweets, to me, are an act of rage saying the following: “Look at me and see what the big, bad government did – and look, they are doing it again.”

This message, in my opinion, is irresponsible when so many have paid a hefty price for the decisions of FTX.

So, before we read what these “experts” write, remember many of them fit into one, two or three of the following categories:

1) they have their own ax to grind

2) they want to stir up controversy or

3) they are getting paid handsomely for their thoughts.

Read between the lines before giving genius level accolades to people in a position of power and influence.

The “experts” are not always right.

By Kelly Ferraro Kelly Ferraro has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Kelly Ferraro is an events columnist at Grit Daily. She is the CEO and president of River North Communications, touting two decades of experience as a corporate communications and TradFi professional. She is also the chapter director for VNTR, and is a three-time mentor with Outlier Ventures. Having worked at Bank of America and Guggenheim Securities, she is well-equipped to design and implement media campaigns aligning with business objectives. Kelly began her career at a hedge fund, developing a love for numbers as they told a company’s true story. She is also passionate about the evolution of blockchain and believes transparency is the key to widespread adoption.

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