A little over three years ago when bitcoin was trading in the low $200s, we first recommended purchasing the cryptocurrency for two main reasons: as we said at the time, it was only a matter of time before the Chinese started using it as a means to bypass China’s capital controls firewall (this took place less than a year later, launching Bitcoin’s stratospheric ascent which eventually culminated with Beijing’s crackdown on crypto and bitcoin hitting a price of $20,000); the second reason was the involvement of the notorious brain behind Credit Default Swaps then at JPMorgan, Blythe Masters, whose mere presence was – to us – assurance that with such a deep “institutional” backer, it was only a matter of time before bitcoin exploded, to wit:
We bring all this up in case there is any confusion why Bloomberg just carried a huge centerfold piece explaining why CDS-inventor Blythe Masters has suddenly become the digital currency’s most vocal pitchman and is betting it all on bitcoin, in “Blythe Masters Tells Banks the Blockchain Changes Everything.”
Yes, bitcoin may be slowly but surely leaving the domain of the libertarian fringe, but in exchange it is about to be embraced as the most lucrative and commercial “blockchained” way to capitalize on what may soon become the largest capital outflow in history, with “pioneers” such as Blythe front and center to capitalize on each and every outflowing Bityuan.
And just like that, a little over three years later, the fairy tale is over, at least for the person who was meant to “tell the banks Blockchain changes everything“, because as Bloomberg reports, Blythe Masters is leaving her role as CEO of blockchain startup Digital Asset Holdings, slightly more than three years after arriving to run the financial technology firm and being on the cover of Bloomberg magazine to provoke curiosity in what at the time was a technology – and asset class- only a handful had previously heard of.
Why is she leaving?
According to a release, Masters asked to step down for personal reasons, which naturally means that the true reasons she is leaving are anything but personal and may have something to do with the unprecedented collapse in cryptocurrency from their all time highs exactly one year ago. AG Gangadhar, who joined the board this year, will become chairman and acting CEO until the New York- based company finds a permanent replacement for Masters who will remain a board member, strategic adviser and shareholder.
Digital Asset was… all right, all right still is among a group of startups trying to apply blockchain to financial markets. Advocates say the system, already being used to simplify supply chains, could also streamline trade settlement and stock issuance. Alas, despite early enthusiasm for the technology’s promise, many corporate advocates of distributed ledger technology cooled off in direct correlation with the price of bitcoin.
After joining Digital Asset in 2015, Masters – who previously worked at JPMorgan for two decades and conceived of credit-default swaps which nearly led to AIG’s extinction – became a high-profile advocate of blockchain for finance and a mainstay on the speaking circuit. During her brief tenure there, Digital Asset struck up several partnerships and earned a contract to supply Australia’s main stock exchange, ASX Ltd., with blockchain technology for processing equity transactions. ASX Deputy CEO Peter Hiom said in a statement Tuesday that the program remains on pace. In October Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. said it will work with Digital Asset on building a blockchain settlement system for trading Chinese stocks.
As for Masters’ replacement, Gangadhar joined the Digital Asset board in April, and earlier in his career he worked at technology giants including Google and Uber. Prior to Digital Asset, he spent less than half a year as CTO of Cruise Automation, the self- driving arm of General Motors. Amusingly, in his time at Cruise he was the subject of public complaints about his role in allegedly
fostering a work environment that was inhospitable to women when he worked at Uber.
And speaking of women, keep a close eye on where Blythe ends up next: while it remains to be seen if bitcoin (and blockchain) can ever inspire the type of bubble mania that emerged in the 2016-2017 period (yes, eventually, once money laundering using crypto becomes fashionable again, especially in Asia), one thing is certain: whatever product or asset Blythe is involved with next, will likely be the next thousand-bagger investment.