Exodus of Wall Street Talent for Crypto is Happening in 2018

Michael K. Spencer
Bloomberg

Millennials who made money trading digital assets in their spare time are breaking away from top firms, reports Bloomberg. It’s the rise of blockchain startups from Wall Street and Crypto Funds of various kinds.

As the number of high profile executives leaving banks and financial services positions for crypto continues to rise, the future of cryptocurrency trading and blockchain startups continues to morph into the future.

Cryptocurrencies are transforming the career path of some of the brightest young minds of Wall Street who see the opportunity ahead and are pivoting quickly to change their trajectory to have one foot in both worlds.

J.P Morgan and Goldman Sachs talent leaving their traditional jobs for new crypto ventures is a sign of the times, and a stark reminder how quickly things can change. Even a few years ago, who would have seen American banks where well-regarded finance execs are fleeing comfortable, dependable compensation for the relatively nascent crypto-finance industry? It’s almost beyond belief.

The exit of top-level executives from Wall Street and making an entry into the crypto industry would have sounded crazy before the rise of Bitcoin in late 2017 and the cryptocurrency market cap as a whole. Now in 2018, there are 19,000 altcoins and blockchain startups have the ability to change the world. Bitcoin and Ethereum futures, and the rise of new investment Crypto Funds and cryptocurrency market platforms (apps) have the potential to shift some of the talent of the financial world away from traditional safe Wall Street jobs to innovative crypto firms who are more in tune with the future.

It’s not just Wall Street that’s shedding talent to crypto however, it’s even big tech.

Emilie Choi from LinkedIn

Coinbase managed to score Emilie Choi from LinkedIn to join their office as a Vice President of Corporate and Business Development. At LinkedIn, she was the head of mergers and acquisitions. It’s a pretty key role and a nice addition for Coinbase.

Coinbase is a good example of how to cherry-pick talent actually. Reporting from CoinGape, here are some examples:

  • Alesia Haas from Och-Ziff Capital Management

Alesia Haas, left her position as the CFO at Wall Street’s Och-Ziff Capital Management to join one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet service provider, Coinbase. Hass who has previously worked at OneWest Bank and Merrill Lynch would be joining the Coinbase as its CFO.

  • Richard Kim from Goldman Sachs

Richard Kim worked at JP Morgan for five years before joining the London office of Goldman Sachs in 2015 as an Executive Director. Recently, early crypto investor Mike Novogratz got him to join his crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital as the COO.

Novogratz, being himself a Goldman alum stated that they have hired the “Goldman’s best guy in the blockchain.”

  • Michael Bucella from Goldman Sachs

Michael Bucella, a former Goldman executive took the role of the Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development at BlockTower Capital which is one of the leading crypto investments firms. The company was co-founded by Matt Goetz who himself left his position of Vice President at Goldman Sachs last year.

  • James Radecki from Goldman Sachs

Working as a Managing Director at the bank, James Radecki left Goldman Sachs in 2016 to start working in the digital currency market. Currently, he is working as the Global Head of Business Development at the Cumberland Mining which is one of the largest traders of cryptocurrencies.

  • William Healy from Deutsche Bank

Last month, Pantera Capital, a blockchain, and cryptocurrency hedge fund hired William Healy, the former managing director of Deutsche Bank. Healy joined the West Coast office headquarters of the company as the President of the Fund.

Wall Street Talent Exodus of 2018

I think what we are seeing is not only the institutional investors taking an interest in this booming sector, but c-level execs realizing the emerging space will have big winners and they want to be a part of that.

Wall Street for the most part have not been very agile with regards to cryptocurrencies. Talent that wants to follow the money or follow the innovation, in many regards would have to leave Wall Street to be on their generation’s side of the winners. Millennials seem to favor by and large the art of crypto investing rather than more traditional avenues, to them, supporting crypto and altcoins is also a value statement.

The exodus of talent from mainstream financial firms to crypto is one of the biggest hidden trends of 2018. As Coinbase grows, more serious rivals to it will emerge here in North America, and their top talent has to come from somewhere. Who better equipped to compete than the top tier young talent from Wall Street? That is exactly what appears to be happening.

In early May, Malta-based crypto start-up Hold announced that it had hired Priyanka Lilaramani as its new CEO. You may not know this, but Lilaramani was a director at Goldman Sachs in London for over a decade. These are not isolated occurrences either. This is what the Crypto Singularity is doing to Wall Street.

Executives from traditional companies (like Goldman Sachs) are flocking to blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. In part, for younger generations the writing is the wall. The shift to new kinds of platforms is already underway. Crypto regulation, however long it’s going to take will likely send the cryptocurrency market cap much higher in the long-term.

Crypto Singularity — Price Correction — Crypto Revival

With companies like Facebook pivoting to the blockchain, the future is being set as more blockchain adoption from enterprise level big tech firms characterized the mood of 2018 in the history of blockchain. The MainNet launch of the likes of EOS, Tron and rapid improvement of other dApp platforms means blockchain 3.0 will be arriving fast.

Crypto funds are popping up all over the world. The lure of new blockchain projects is powerful for Millennial talent that want to forge success on their own terms. Top tier talent in Wall Street are reconsidering their career trajectories and the kind of impact they want to make. Even existing talent in crypto are pivoting to start their own ventures. Take Linda Xie, the former Coinbase product manager, co-founded Scalar Capital and former colleagues keep joining the team.

The Crypto Talent Boom

It’s analogous to the internet in 1994 and 1995. During that time, the internet went from being a curiosity to receiving serious institutional investment. This trend will be even bigger with cryptocurrency, according to some.

As Michael Sonnenshein, managing director at Grayscale Investments, said at Consensus 2018 (a major crypto conference in New York that I attended last week): “It’s getting easier to attract traditional finance talent.”

Blockchain, the popular wallet provider, recently hired Peter Wilson as its vice president of engineering. Wilson is a veteran of Facebook and Google.

In March, Coinbase hired Eric Scro as vice president of finance. He came over from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where he spent over eight years as head of finance. Scro helped expand institutional business for the NYSE and will do the same for Coinbase.

Blockchain is a revolution in the making and Wall Street losing talent, not something you could have imagined happening say in 2015, before Bitcoin popularity skyrocketed. It’s the wild wild west of blockchain & crypto startups, and you can’t blame talent to be attracted to the new spaces with so much opportunity.

Michael K. Spencer

Written by

Blockchain Mark Consultant, tech Futurist, a prolific writer. Always writing. 🌞 DM me on Twitter for quotes: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelkspencer/

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade