BlockFi Inc., a cryptocurrency lender funded by billionaire Peter Thiel and web entrepreneurs the Winklevoss twins, has welcomed aboard a brand new high lawyer because it continues to seek for a CFO.
Jonathan Mayers, who spent the previous decade as an in-house lawyer at hedge fund Renaissance Applied sciences LLC, joined BlockFi earlier this month as its first-ever normal counsel. Mayers is the newest in a string of lawyers hired within the cryptocurrency and digital asset administration sector, which is ramping up its authorized and compliance capabilities in an effort to legitimize itself amongst regulators and conventional monetary providers establishments.
“Because the area continues to mature, we’ll want a agency regulatory construction extra analogous to that of conventional finance to make sure capital can transfer by means of the crypto ecosystem safely and ethically,” BlockFi co-founder and CEO Zac Prince mentioned in a press release saying Mayers’ rent. “Jonathan brings a trove of expertise from a number of the most acknowledged names in finance to assist us proceed to take action.”
Launched in August 2017, Jersey Metropolis, N.J.-based BlockFi operates a cryptocurrency buying and selling and lending platform that’s poised to generate $50 million in income this yr, in response to the corporate, which started looking for an in-house authorized chief in Might.
Mayers mentioned in an interview that he couldn’t go up the “tantalizing alternative” to become involved “virtually on the floor degree” in an organization working within the cryptocurrency area. The Covid-19 pandemic has not solely contributed to a spike in hiring, however created an increased appetite for digital assets as extra conventional investments falter, Mayers mentioned.
Mayers spent 4 years in-house at banking giants
Whereas Cape Springs stays a going concern, Mayers advised Bloomberg Regulation that since becoming a member of BlockFi two weeks in the past he’s been busy getting up to the mark on the authorized and compliance framework at his new employer. The corporate in February raised $30 million in a second discovered of fundraising led by Thiel-backed enterprise capital agency Valar Ventures LLC.
Betting on BlockFi
Thiel, a former associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, has roots in South Africa, the place Mayers was born and raised. Nevertheless it was BlockFi chief threat officer Rene van Kesteren who Mayers mentioned recruited him to the corporate.
Bloomberg News has reported that BlockFi’s backers embrace Winklevoss Capital Administration LLC, the household workplace of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, greatest identified for his or her legal battle with
Whereas cryptocurrencies nonetheless have their fair share of critics, some longtime skeptics have began to come back round to the enterprise. JPMorgan Chase & Co. chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon famously referred to as bitcoin a “fraud” in 2017, however two years later his firm began its personal cryptocurrency, JPM Coin.
“There are actual efficiencies and advantages to digital property,” Mayers mentioned. “We wish to get stakeholders concerned and interact with world regulators in a accountable approach.”
Mayers, who’s working from his residence with two young children in Hillsdale, N.Y., a activity he cautioned is “not for the faint of coronary heart,” mentioned he hopes to have the ability to assist BlockFi navigate an evolving authorized and regulatory compliance panorama for cryptocurrency firms. Mayers lives not removed from Robert Werner, the new legal chief on the Libra Affiliation, a digital forex group grappling with its own regulatory issues whose members embrace Fb.
Haynes and Boone and Gunderson Dettmer are the 2 regulation corporations that primarily function exterior counsel to BlockFi. Mayers, who started his U.S. authorized profession as an affiliate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, which he joined on the peak of the dotcom growth 20 years in the past, doesn’t anticipate any speedy modifications to that lineup, noting that he and BlockFi have been happy with the recommendation they’ve acquired.
Mayers mentioned Gemini Belief Co. LLC, a digital forex alternate additionally backed by the Winklevoss brothers, is a separate entity from BlockFi, though the latter does use New York-based Gemini as the first custodian for its cryptocurrency property.