No OpenSea Token Coming? Former Lyft CFO Joins the Popular NFT Marketplace and Planning its IPO

No OpenSea Token Coming? Former Lyft CFO Joins the Popular NFT Marketplace and Planning its IPO

“You’d be foolish not to think about it going public,” said Brian Roberts, OpenSea CFO who has “never seen a P&L like this.”

Brian Roberts, who recently resigned from Lyft after spending 7-years as the company’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO), is joining the popular NFT marketplace OpenSea as its CFO.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Roberts, who previously worked at Microsoft and Walmart, said that the growth of web3 companies and, of course, OpenSea has made this jump into crypto an easy choice.

“I haven’t been this excited about something in a very long time,” he said. “It reminds me of 1995 eBay.”

Founded in 2017, OpenSea has exploded into popularity as non-fungible tokens mania took crypto mainstream.

In August, the marketplace topped $3.4 billion in volume, up from less than $100 million just a month prior, according to Dune Analytics. However, since then, the volume has been in a continuous decline, to record $2.37 bln in November though up from just $4.5 million in Nov. 2020.

As we reported last month, OpenSea has been getting new investment offers that could increase its valuation to as much as over $12 billion. OpenSea founder and CEO Devin Finzer confirmed that the company is talking to investors about raising additional funds and is currently determining what type of investor it wants to bring in the company, as per a Bloomberg report.

This year, OpenSea raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation in a Series B round led by VC giant Andreessen Horowitz in July, leading its Series A in March.

According to Roberts, OpenSea is already profitable. “I’ve seen a lot of P&Ls, but I’ve never seen a P&L like this,” he said.

While OpenSea doesn’t need to raise more cash, Robers said, the new financing can be used to acquire companies, ink partnerships, and create joint ventures to expand the use of NFTs into new industries.

Roberts, known for guiding Lyft through its rapid growth to a successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) and adjusted profitability, also said he’s already planning OpenSea’s IPO.

“When you have a company growing as fast as this one, you’d be foolish not to think about it going public,” he said. It “would be well-received in the public market given its growth.”

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Author: AnTy

Another Billion-Dollar Venture Fund Launched for Crypto Investment

While the market is bearish, money is flowing into the market. But the former Citigroup executive’s latest fund is in preparation for a crypto winter “within 2-3 years on the horizon.”

While the $2.7 trillion market has been taking a break from an uptrend this month, money continues to flow as another billion-dollar crypto fund gets launched.

Former Citigroup executive Matt Zhang is launching a $1.5 billion venture fund Hivemind Capital Partners focused on cryptocurrency-related investments.

Zhang said his investment firm had received “a decent amount of interest” from qualified institutional investors, including sovereign wealth funds, family offices, pensions, and endowments.

“We believe blockchain technology is a paradigm shift, and we are still in the early innings. Our mission is to provide start-to-finish capital and infrastructure solutions to visionary entrepreneurs and category-defining crypto projects.”

Earlier this month, Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehsram and Matt Huang, former partner of Sequoia Capital, launched a record $2.5 billion new VC crypto fund, which topped the $2.2 billion investment fund announced by Andreessen Horowitz in June.

Hivemind Capital Partners meanwhile expects to add four to five more partners in the next 6-12 months. Citigroup itself is looking to hire 100 people to bolster its digital assets team.

The firm will be investing in four key strategies viz. risk and return management, venture capital, cryptocurrency trading, and “play to earn,” for which it has onboarded ex-Goldman Sachs analyst Sam Peurifoy to lead a dedicated “play-to-earn” strategy.

For this, they have also chosen Algorand as their first strategic partner.

Hivemind’s play-to-earn strategy will begin with building and expanding gaming communities. “We can put a great deal of care into planning ahead for how we can best support members of society” to help them potentially migrate to a digital ecosystem where they can live and earn money, said Peurifoy.

The new funding could also be in preparation for a downtrend as Zhang, who plans to run the funds’ crypto trading arm himself, said he expects the arrival of a “crypto winter.”

“Within two years, three years on the horizon, there will be a huge trading opportunity — market volatility will go up and down.”

But it is hard to be bearish in the current environment when so much money is flowing in the crypto market as investment firm CMS Holdings tweeted,

“I will simply not become bearish till we stop having billion-dollar raises every week.”

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Author: AnTy

BlockFi’s First Independent Director, Former CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo, Quits Board After Just 4 Months

BlockFi’s First Independent Director, Former CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo, Quits Board After Just 4 Months

Former chief US commodities regulator Christopher Giancarlo has made an exit from the board of directors of crypto lending firm BlockFi after four months, the company said on Wednesday.

“We appreciate the wisdom that Chris has imparted in his formal capacity as a Board member,” said Zac Prince, CEO, and Founder of BlockFi.

Giancarlo has been replaced by Ellen-Blair Chube, a managing director at William Blair, but he will continue to provide strategic counsel to the firm in an advisory role.

“BlockFi is an institution that is critical to the broader crypto ecosystem. I’m looking forward to continuing to advise this impressive group of leaders as they work to bridge the worlds of traditional finance and blockchain technology,” said Giancarlo in a statement.

The reason why Giancarlo has resigned from his position in BlockFi wasn’t shared by the company. He was the first independent director of BlockFi’s board.

During his tenure as chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Giancarlo was known as ‘Crypto Dad’ for his crypto-friendly views. He has also co-founded the Digital Dollar project.

Great Turmoil

BlockFi has been going through a turbulent past few months as it faced an onslaught of legal issues. As we reported, multiple US states issued a warning against the company’s flagship BlockFi Interest Accounts (BIA), alleging they were unregistered securities.

The company stopped onboarded new accounts in the states and warned that it could be forced to do so “worldwide” if its New Jersey case isn’t resolved, whose thrice-delayed cease-and-desist order takes effect at the end of the month.

The firm is also planning to go public as soon as 2022 after a potential $500 million Series E funding round at a roughly $5 billion valuation. Reportedly, lead investor Third Point LLC has pulled out following its ongoing fight with regulators.

Amidst this, yet again, BlockFi slashed the rates on crypto holdings for the fourth time this year. Starting Sept. 1st, rates and tiers are changed for Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Chainlink (LINK), PAX Gold (PAXG), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Uniswap (UNI), and Stablecoins (BUSD, DAI, GUSD, PAX, USDC, and USDT) holdings in the BlockFi Interest Account (BIA).

“Tier 1 rates for all cryptocurrencies are increasing. By our estimates, close to 75% of clients will see an increase in their APY,” noted the company, which said the rates are set based on “market dynamics for lending and borrowing.”

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Author: AnTy

Merrill Lynch’s Former ETF Boss to be the Head of its Newly Created Crypto Assets Initiative

Merrill Lynch’s Former ETF Boss to be the Head of its Newly Created Crypto Assets Initiative

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s former head of exchange-traded products (ETF) will be leading the bank’s newly created digital assets initiative, including crypto strategies.

Mark Donoghue was previously leading the ETP and SMA group at the firm but has been given a new role during the second quarter to serve as head of digital trading within the wider investment products group aimed at defining and executing the wealth management strategy related to digital assets, reported Citywire.

However, so far, no crypto-related offerings are available to the advisors and users of the bank.

A spokesperson for Merrill Lynch confirmed that this division is separate from the cryptocurrency research team, which is part of the bank’s global research group, lead by Alkesh Shah, that provides company views, investment insights, and economic forecasts. A spokesman for Merrill Lynch said,

“These moves highlight our continued focus on talent mobility, as well as our strong commitment to product and trading innovation within our wealth management business”

Recently, BofA became a new strategic investor along with FTX, Coinbase Ventures, and Founders Fund in New York-based Paxos’ $300 million Series D funding that it raised three months back.

With this, the investment giant has joined its competitors. JPMorgan started to pitch an in-house private Bitcoin fund to its wealthy investors just this week after announcing in July that it would make five crypto funds available to all of its wealth management clients. Morgan Stanley also made three bitcoin-focused funds available to its wealth management clients in March.

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Author: AnTy

FTX.US Hires Former CFTC Attorney, Who Served as SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s General Counsel

FTX.US Hires Former CFTC Attorney, Who Served as SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s General Counsel

This new addition is to help the growing crypto exchange expand in the US, where it aims to become the “market-leading” platform by volume “over the next two years.”

Amidst the ongoing growing regulatory scrutiny over the cryptocurrency market, crypto exchange FTX.US has hired Ryne Miller as its General Counsel.

“I am really excited to join the FTX.US team. We will be working alongside U.S. regulators to bring regulated digital asset markets to U.S. customers,” said Miller, who joins FTX.US from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where he was the co-head of its Commodities, Futures & Derivatives practice.

The former attorney at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), where he served as legal counsel to current SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, Miller has extensive experience in securities and derivatives.

“We’re excited to have Ryne join the team and guide us through the evolving regulatory landscape of cryptocurrencies and derivatives. His industry expertise and leadership will be critical as we forge cooperative working relationships with US regulators amid the expansion of our businesses,” said Brett Harrison, President of FTX.US.

In its official announcement, FTX.US describes itself as a regulated crypto exchange that aims to “become the market-leading US cryptocurrency exchange by volume over the next two years.”

Crypto market participants actually characterizes FTX’s legal and regulatory competence as “an enormously under-appreciated moat.” It is especially of importance in the current environment when the industry is growing fast, institutions are coming in a herd, and regulators don’t want to have it remain an unregulated “Wild West.”

Besides leading the regulatory landscape, FTX is also among the very few, if not the only company to have amped up its marketing efforts substantially.

In its attest efforts, FTX has signed a partnership with League Championship Series (LCS) to become its official crypto exchange.

“Our seven-year partnership with FTX represents the largest sponsorship agreement Riot has ever signed for an esports league,” reads the official statement.

Starting this weekend, FTX branding will appear on the LCS broadcast around the most valuable currency in League of Legends: Gold. The exchange will also directly sponsor the LCS Most Improved Player Award.

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Author: AnTy

ECB Promises to Pump Money; IMF Praises Fed for Being ‘Highly Effective’ at Overshooting 2% Inflation

Amidst this, former BitMEX CEO talks about an investor’s ability to really outperform $4.72 trillion of money created out of thin air in 2021.

European Central Bank (ECB) keeps its monetary policy steady and will continue to be more accommodative for a more extended period.

The central bank has committed to purchasing 1.85 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion) of bonds until March 2022, and policymakers voted to keep this stimulus injection into the market going for the time being.

Interest rates were also left unchanged, with that on the primary deposit facility remaining at 0.5%, the benchmark refinancing rate at 0%, and the marginal lending facility at 0.25%.

Additionally, ECB said it wanted to see inflation stabilizing at 2% over the medium terms adding, this may also imply a transitory period where inflation is “moderately above target.”

Prices rose 1.9% this year to June in the 19-member euro bloc, down from 2% this year to May, which has the ECB expecting inflation to drop, forecasting a decrease of 1.5% – 1.4% in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

The central bank had changed its guidance “to underline our commitment to maintain a persistently accommodative monetary policy stance to meet our inflation target,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde.

“There is still a long way to go before the damage to the economy caused by the pandemic is offset.”

On Friday, ECB member Francois Villeroy de Galhau, who is also the governor of the Bank of France, said it was justified to keep an accommodative monetary policy for now.

Villeroy also said that the ECB sees the midpoint of its forecast horizon for a 2% inflation target coming in around 12-18 months in the eurozone.

Fed “Highly Effective”

As for the US, the Federal Reserve has started to talk about tapering, but Chair Jerome Powell has assured that it is “still a ways off,” and President Joe Biden gave the Fed his blessing to “take whatever steps necessary” to support a strong economy.

The International Monetary Fund’s Executive Board also commended the Fed for being “highly effective” at managing the COVID-l9 crisis and supporting recovery with its commitment to overshoot a 2% inflation target in the near term.

While raising concerns about higher interest rates that will drain capital flows from emerging markets, the board also said that the Fed must carefully communicate its thinking to ensure the eventual withdrawal of monetary accommodation. The IMF said this scaling back,

 “will require deft communications, under a potentially tight timeline, to avoid market misunderstandings, volatility in market pricing, and/or an unwarranted tightening in financial conditions.”

The Fund’s board also said that the US should prioritize spending towards programs that have the most significant impact on productivity and that more could be done to boost tax revenues.

“Don’t Get Shook.”

In 2021, a total of $4.72 trillion has been created out of thin air, collectively in the US, China, and EU. “If the quantum of money increases, it must go somewhere,” noted Arthur Hayes, former BitMEX CEO, in his latest write-up.

“The Fed has removed $1.4 trillion of the highest quality collateral from the system…Whatever anyone says about a taper in the future, in the present, asset managers must replace this collateral with higher risk stuff.”

The Fed’s balance sheet has expanded at a YoY pace of +22.74% and +13.21% YTD. ECB grew its balance sheet by +25.18% YoY, and YTD +13.34%, and China’s most recent 2Q21 YoY GDP print was +7.9% using an 11% growth in credit.

So, how does one outperform this? Bonds are certainly not the answer.

The US GDP forecast for 2021 is +6.60%, vs. the 10-Year bonds that yield 1.20%, equating to a rough negative real yield of -5.40%. In the “strongest Eurozone economy,” Germany, 2021 GDP is expected to print at 4.5%, with real yields approaching negative 5%.

Here, crypto comes as a clear winner, with Bitcoin up 10% YTD and Ethereum 182% and about 250% and 700% YoY, respectively.

“The data is clear – central banks continue to print money. When / if that changes, the data will show us. There is no need to predict when it stops if you own scarce assets that appreciate in fiat terms at least at the same pace of balance sheet expansion. On the past 6-month horizon, crypto underperformed, but from the onset of the COVID pandemic till today, crypto markedly outperformed as central bankers stepped on the gas. Don’t get shook.”

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Author: AnTy

Another Win For Ripple As Judge Orders The Deposition Of Former SEC Official, William Hinman

Another Win For Ripple As Judge Orders The Deposition Of Former SEC Official, William Hinman

Ripple Labs Inc has been given the go-ahead to question former SEC official William Hinman in its lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

ETH Is Not A Security – William Hinman

Ripple had asked the US Judge Sarah Netburn to let it depose the former director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. This motion was aimed at revealing the rationale behind the SEC’s decisions and policies.

In a prepared speech, William Hinman asserted that Ether, the native token of the Ethereum network, was not a security. He based his reason on the decentralized structure of the Ethereum network, noting that the sales of Ether were not considered securities transactions.

Ripple believes that Hinman’s deposition would add more weight to its claim that the XRP token is not a security. The blockchain firm intends to use Hinman’s testimony as a means to understand the commission’s position and why it classifies XRP as a security, Bloomberg reports.

Although the SEC tried to suppress the deposition of Hinman, the motion was denied by Netburn in a ruling on Thursday.

SEC had argued during the hearing that it was yet to decide on Ether’s regulatory status at the time of Hinman’s speech. The regulator said that his speech only contained personal remarks and did not reflect the agency’s viewpoint.

The SEC also argued that Hinman’s testimony would subject high-level government officials to depositions, and that could deter other qualified people from taking public service jobs.

However, Netburn noted that this is not “a run of the mill” enforcement case, adding that the deposition is not supposed to affect other SEC departments.

Judge Netburn concluded that Hinman must sit for the deposition after Ripple and the SEC agree on the scope in advance.

Ripple Continues To Portray SEC’s Stance As Unfair

Thursday’s ruling is the latest clash in the lawsuit that began last December when the SEC sued Ripple, its CEO Brad Garlinghouse and co-founder Chris Larsen. The watchdog alleged that they had conducted unregistered securities with their XRP token sales worth $1.3 billion.

Ripple’s strategy has been fixed on portraying the SEC’s lawsuit as partial and unfair. The firm argues that the XRP should be treated as a commodity offering just like Bitcoin and Ethereum. BTC -0.72% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 31,398.03
Volume 23.68 b Change -$226.07 Open $31,398.03 Circulating 18.76 m Market Cap 588.97 b
8 h Cardano Launches Latest Version Of Alonzo Testnet, Dubbed Alonzo White 8 h Bitcoin DeFi is Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s New Goal 9 h Another Win For Ripple As Judge Orders The Deposition Of Former SEC Official, William Hinman
ETH -1.43% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 1,877.52
Volume 14.75 b Change -$26.85 Open $1,877.52 Circulating 116.72 m Market Cap 219.15 b
8 h Cardano Launches Latest Version Of Alonzo Testnet, Dubbed Alonzo White 9 h Another Win For Ripple As Judge Orders The Deposition Of Former SEC Official, William Hinman 10 h Thorchain (RUNE) Tested, Network Gets Halted After Being Attacked for 4k ETH

In April, Ripple also won a discovery ruling that required the SEC to produce internal documents about its discussions of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Ripple had earlier disclosed that the regulators couldn’t regulate XRP because it is majorly used for international and domestic transactions as a digital currency, suggesting XRP as a medium of exchange and not a security.

While the latest ruling is a win for Ripple, it could be considered a relatively small win in a much larger case, one for which the outcome is uncertain.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Former CFTC Chair Says A Bitcoin ETF Would Be Good For Regulators; SkyBridge BTC ETF Delayed

Timothy Massad, former chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has urged the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Massad made his points known in a Bloomberg opinion piece. He said the SEC should look into approving an ETF in a way that would enhance transparency and integrity in the industry.

Bitcoin ETF Would Be Good For Retail Investors

Massad said a Bitcoin ETF would help retail investors invest in digital assets without purchasing them and dealing with the complexities of custody.

He said that while it would be best to have crypto regulations in place before approving a Bitcoin ETF, this may not happen soon. This is why Massad thinks a conditional approval would be best to increase the industry’s transparency, integrity, and investor protection, not just its mass appeal. Massad said,

“Although it would be best to see such ETFs approved only after Congress has strengthened crypto regulation generally, the likelihood of that happening in the near future is low.”

While cryptocurrency exchanges are largely unregulated in the U.S, the former CFTC chair said the SEC could use the ETF listing process to improve the integrity of cryptocurrency exchanges in the absence of comprehensive regulations.

He added that the ETF approval could be granted on the condition that the ETF prices are based on an index of exchanges meeting certain prescribed standards.

Massad’s comments follow similar comments attributed to SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, who argued that a Bitcoin ETF should have been approved a long time ago.

In an interview with CNBC, Peirce said that she sees the SEC using double standards in approving crypto products. According to her, the SEC applies a heightened standard in filings associated with cryptocurrencies, unlike the standards it uses for traditional, equity-based products.

SEC’s Continuous Delay In Approving ETFs

Over the years, there have been several applications for a Bitcoin ETF, but the SEC is yet to approve any of the applications.

The regulator had previously cited concerns like fraud, market manipulation, and volatility as the reasons behind the rejections or delays.

The latest application facing delay by the SEC is Anthony Scarammuci’s SkyBridge Capital’s application for a Bitcoin ETF. A filing by the regulator shows that the application submitted on May 6 has been extended for 45 days ending in August.

The SEC is currently reviewing many applications and has invited public comment on the Bitcoin ETF filed by asset manager VanEck. The review process has also been extended until August 2021.

Other firms currently witnessing delays from the regulator in approving ETFs include WisdomTree, Kryptoin, and Fidelity Investments.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

“We’re Past the Point of No Return,” says Former NYSE President Who is Bullish on Crypto & DeFi

“We’re Past the Point of No Return,” says Former NYSE President Who is Bullish on Crypto & DeFi

Thomas Farley, the former president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is bullish on the entire growing cryptocurrency industry.

“The only thing I find more exciting than debating on tax policy is talking about crypto. I’m all in, and I think Coinbase (COIN) is a great company,” said Farley in an interview on CNBC.

He then shared how the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, Coinbase is the 8th largest exchange in the world but “if you ask the everyday American they would probably think it’s the biggest exchange in the world.”

According to him, the crypto space is “amazing,” notwithstanding the press that it has been getting. In fact, “it’s the best-kept secret in the world and maybe the history of the financial markets,” he added.

Farley then went to talk about decentralized finance (DeFi). “There’s this corner of crypto called DeFi where essentially very smart Kids are putting code up on a blockchain of their choosing, and then you have a self-operating smart contract,” said Farley.

“DeFi exchanges are doing as much volume if not more than Coinbase today,” he added.

The burgeoning DeFi space is home to DEXs, volume on which went parabolic in Q1 of 2021. Recording as much as $217 billion, volume on decentralized exchanges is up 236% from the previous quarter and a whopping 8,000% from Q1 2020, as per Messari.

While Ethereum-based Uniswap continues to lead the pack, BSC-based PancakeSwap was the winner as its market share grew from a mere 2% to 37% in the quarter.

Farley further notes that this growth has been ignored by traditional competitors like banks along with retail brokerages.

“The wall street banks who for a century have made markets in every asset around the world have ignored this and abdicated their role and allowed Coinbase to become an $80 billion company,” said Farley, adding that as retail brokerages ignored it as well, retail found other ways to access this asset class.

“I think it’s fascinating, and I think it’s here to stay. We’re past the point of no return,” he said.

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Author: AnTy

Gearing Up For An IPO: BlockFi Adds Former CFTC Chairman ‘Crypto Dad’ to Board

Gearing Up For An IPO: BlockFi Adds Former CFTC Chairman ‘Crypto Dad’ to Board

Former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo has joined the board of directors of crypto neobank BlockFi.

“Just another step towards BlockFi’s mission of bringing financial products to crypto investors around the world,” tweeted Anthony Pompliano, founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital.

Giancarlo headed CFTC in 2017 when Bitcoin futures made its debut on CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). He left office in 2019.

In early 2018, during his congressional testimony in which he advocated for a “do no harm” regulatory stance towards crypto assets, it earned him the title “Crypto Dad.”

Giancarlo is the first independent, non-equity holding director on BlockFi’s five-person board.

“As the adoption of digital assets accelerates, it is critical for the financial industry to consider how to adapt and integrate these innovations in a way that best serves investors and the broader economy,” Giancarlo said in a statement on Tuesday.

Crypto lender, BlockFi allows users to earn interest on their crypto assets and also offers Bitcoin Trust and is looking for Giancarlo’s guidance on regulatory developments and other initiatives.

The crypto unicorn managed over $15 billion in assets and reported just shy of $100 million revenue in 2020. Running toward generating $500 million in revenue this year, the company has grown its client base from 10k to 250k since 2019-end.

Founded in 2017 by Zac Prince and Flori Marquez, BlockFi is rumored to be planning for an initial public offering (IPO) in the second half of 2021, which was valued at $3 billion in its latest private funding round. Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the US, made its debut on Nasdaq at a valuation that briefly went to $100 billion.

“There are plenty of reasons a company like BlockFi might want a former high-ranking gov’t official like Chris Giancarlo on its board, & I’d guess one of them is preparation for an IPO. Great move,” tweeted Jake Chervinsky, General Counsel at Compound Finance.

Besides a move suggesting BlockFi gearing up for going public, this addition also underscores the ongoing demand for regulatory experiences in the crypto industry. Just yesterday, Binance.US tapped former acting OCC chief Brian Brooks as its new CEO.

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Author: AnTy