Move over, Wall Street. Cryptocurrency is the new kid on the blockchain. And a tidal wave is ushering investment banking veterans to hop on the bitcoin bandwagon.
Goldman Sachs executive Richard Kim has just joined Galaxy Digital, the cryptocurrency merchant bank founded by former hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz. Novogratz, who was once a partner with Goldman Sachs, is now a bitcoin evangelist who’s one of the richest people in crypto.
Kim joins former Goldman financial analyst Luka Jankovic, who also left traditional finance for the budding cryptocurrency industry, CNBC reported April 9.
Kim and Jankovic are among a growing crop of Goldman Sachs alums flocking to crypto start-ups amid escalating media hype about bitcoin — the largest virtual currency by market cap — and blockchain, the technology undergirding cryptocurrencies.
While the internet is rife with daily predictions that “bitcoin is dead” amid its recent price slump, many finance veterans are convinced that crypto is the undeniable wave of the future. And it can’t stop, won’t stop.
Credit Suisse Alum: Bitcoin Inspires FOMO
Just ask Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency entrepreneur Dave Chapman. Chapman, who worked for 12 years at Credit Suisse, Bear Stearns, and HSBC, left traditional finance in 2012 to launch ANX, a blockchain solutions provider, and ANX Pro, a cryptocurrency exchange.
When he first took the crypto plunge, Chapman said his former colleagues were skeptical. “It surprised a lot of people: leaving a respected career to go and play with ‘magical internet money,’” he told the South China Morning Post. “That’s how a lot of people viewed it.”
But Chapman says the skepticism has slowly turned to FOMO (fear of missing out). Chapman ignores the daily chatter of frantic investors who get apoplectic every time bitcoin’s price makes another erratic move. Chapman says the second-guessing and hand-wringing are normal in a nascent industry. So everyone needs to relax and get some perspective.
“Everyone says crypto is so bad, but there’s no difference between this and any other time when people have gone into something (new),” Chapman said. “Is it new? Yes. Does it need to mature? Yes. Will it be regulated? Yes.”
Wanted: MBA Students Who Know Crypto
It’s not just veteran investment bankers who are confident about the future of cryptocurrencies. Many top business schools such as Wharton and Stanford have expanded their course offerings to include bitcoin, blockchain, and the crypto market amid ballooning demand from recruiters, especially those in venture capital.
John Jacobs, the executive director of Georgetown Business School, says he’s barraged with calls from Wall Street recruiters who want MBA graduates with knowledge of crypto. “[They constantly say],’We need people to understand how to apply blockchain technology,’” Jacobs told CNBC.
Jacobs, a former Nasdaq executive, said any top MBA program that doesn’t arm its students with knowledge of bitcoin and blockchain is doing them a disservice in today’s rapidly evolving workplace. “Any world-class program is going to have to equip students in this field to compete,” Jacobs said. “It’s everywhere we turn around.”
To underscore that very point, Forbes recently released its first-ever list of cryptocurrency billionaires. Chris Laren, the co-founder of Ripple notched the number one spot, with an estimated net worth topping $7 billion. And Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz landed at number ten, with an estimated net worth topping $700 million.
While these digital entrepreneurs may be unknown to most people, it is only a matter of time before some of them become household names on par with Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.
Forbes List of Crypto’s Richest For 2018
- Chris Larsen, Co-founder of Ripple: $7.5 to $8 billion,
- Joseph Lubin, Co-founder of Ethereum: $1 billion to $1.5 billion,
- Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance: $1.1 billion to $2 billion,
- Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Co-founders of Gemini: $900 million to $1.1 billion,
- Matthew Mellon, Individual investor: $900 million to $1 billion,
- Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase: $900 million to $1 billion,
- Matthew Roszak, Co-founder of Bloq: $900 million to $1 billion,
- Anthony Di Iorio, Co-founder of Ethereum: $750 million to $1 billion,
- Brock Pierce, Chairman of Bitcoin Foundation: $700 million to $1 billion,
- Michael Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Digital: $700 million to $1 billion,
- Brendan Blumer, CEO of Block.one: $600 million to $700 million,
- Dan Larimer, CTO in Block.one: $600 million to $700 million,
- Valery Vavilov, CEO of Bitfury: $500 million to $700 million,
- Charles Hoskinson, Co-founder of Ethereum and IOHK (Cardano): $500 million to $600 million,
- Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple: $400 million to $500 million,
- Barry Silbert, CEO of Digital Currency Group: $400 million to $500 million,
- Vitalik Buterin, Creator of Ethereum: $400 million to $500 million.