About the book
In 2021 cryptocurrency went mainstream. Giant investment funds were buying it, celebrities like Tom Brady endorsed it, and TV ads hailed it as the future of money. Hardly anyone knew how it worked—but why bother with the particulars when everyone was making a fortune from Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, or some other bizarrely named “digital asset”?
As he observed this frenzy, investigative reporter Zeke Faux had a nagging question: Was it all just a confidence game of epic proportions? What started as curiosity—with a dash of FOMO—would morph into a two-year, globe-spanning quest to understand the wizards behind the world’s new financial machinery. Faux’s investigation would lead him to a schlubby, frizzy-haired twenty-nine-year-old named Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF for short) and a host of other crypto scammers, utopians, and overnight billionaires.
Faux follows the trail to a luxury resort in the Bahamas, where SBF boldly declares that he will use his crypto fortune to save the world. Faux talks his way onto the yacht of a former child actor turned crypto impresario and gains access to “ApeFest,” an elite party headlined by Snoop Dogg, by purchasing a $20,000 image of a cartoon monkey. In El Salvador, Faux learns what happens when a country wagers its treasury on Bitcoin, and in the Philippines, he stumbles upon a Pokémon knockoff mobile game touted by boosters as a cure for poverty. And in an astonishing development, a spam text leads Faux to Cambodia, where he uncovers a crypto-powered human-trafficking ring.
When the bubble suddenly bursts in 2022, he brings readers inside SBF’s penthouse as the fallen crypto king faces his imminent arrest. Fueled by the absurd details and authoritative reporting that earned Faux the title “our great poet of crime” (Money Stuff columnist Matt Levine), Number Go Up is the essential chronicle, by turns harrowing and uproarious, of a $3 trillion financial delusion.
Praise for Number Go Up
“A clearly written narrative of the high and low points of the recent crypto boom and bust. He has a wry eye for details.”
— Financial Times
“Convincing . . . entertaining . . . incisive.”
— Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times
“Boisterous, masterfully written . . . Faux’s cast of misfits and con artists never fails to entertain.”
— James Ledbetter, The Washington Post
“Number Go Up offers a shrewdly skeptical view of crypto.”
— Jen Szalai, The New York Times
“A rollicking . . . examination of crypto’s underbelly.”
— The Economist
“Not only a breath of fresh air but quite possibly the best book ever written about the cryptocurrency industry.”
“Laugh-out-loud funny . . . well worth a read.”
“This book is ludicrously compelling. I, quite literally, couldn’t put it down—and I don’t even care about crypto.”
— Evan Osnos, National Book Award–winning author of Age of Ambition
“This book is what happens when the funniest financial journalist in America takes on the funniest story in modern finance. The results are as darkly hilarious as you could hope for.”
— Matt Levine, Money Stuff columnist
“Riveting, scary, funny, unbelievable . . . If you want a front-row seat to one of the greatest business stories of all time, you should read Number Go Up now.”
—A.J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Puzzler
“Business journalists are not usually lauded for their bravery, but it takes guts to gaze into the abyss of late-stage capitalism, never mind parachute directly into it. [Number Go Up] is a kind of hero’s journey. . . Riveting.”
— Jessica Pressler, special correspondent at Vanity Fair, producer of Inventing Anna
“Both a serious financial investigation and an incredibly entertaining romp . . . Zeke Faux seems to be the only one asking the uncomfortable questions.”
— Sarah Frier, Financial Times /McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award–winning author of No Filter
“The definitive book about crypto and the only one you’ll want to read.”
— Max Chafkin, author of The Contrarian
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About the Author
Zeke Faux is an investigative reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg News, and a National Fellow at New America. He’s a winner of the Gerald Loeb Award and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and a National Magazine Award finalist. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.