When FTX collapsed last year and workers left the company in droves, one of the last to go was an employee you might not expect, FTX’s in-house coach George Lerner.
Dr. Lerner earned his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and completed his residency at the top-ranked psychiatry program at the University of California, San Francisco, according to the Wall Street Journal.
He was hired by the now bankrupt FTX because he treated several of the company’s early employees, including disgraced CEO Sam Bankman-Fried at his former private practice in San Francisco, where his clients also included execs from tech, crypto and venture capital, according to the Journal. During his time at the company Dr. Lerner said he saw about a third of the company’s 300 employees.
Although Dr. Lerner was a trained psychiatrist, he told the Journal that FTX hired him as a coach.
His coaching dealt with important topics for the ragtag team of mostly 20 and 30 somethings, many of which were working long hours in a high stress work culture. Apart from helping with work stress, the doctor also apparently lent a hand in the FTX and Alameda employees’ dating lives.
He tried to organize social mixers with other companies based in the Bahamas, but found that people were too busy. He also encouraged workers to focus on their lives outside of work.
“I was very concerned that people’s happiness would be reduced by lack of dating opportunities outside of a big city or that they would feel compelled to leave the company due to this,” he said.
But the dating scene for FTX employees looked a little different than that of employees at other multi-billion-dollar companies. Several of the company’s executives lived communally in a $40 million luxury penthouse in a gated community.
Far from home and isolated in the high-end Bahamas apartment complex, FTX and Alameda employees relied on each other for social interactions. Several of those at the top even dated, including Sam Bankman-Fried, who at times dated Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, according to CoinDesk.
That relationship probably didn’t work out as imagined for Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges for his role in FTX’s downfall.
In December, Ellison struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against her. She is reportedly cooperating with prosecutors and law enforcement.
Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.