Three takeaways from the latest in a seemingly endless line of crypto events
First it was Consensus from Coindesk, then Crypto Connection from Tabb Forum and now it’s time for SaLoDAM 2021 from the Association for Digital Asset Markets (ADAM) and Eventus. Here are my three takeaways from 4+ hours of presentations today.
- The first panel of the day, Digital Asset Market Structure: The Evolution from Traditional to Digital, was typical in that it featured a recent addition to the cryptosphere. In this case it was Trey Griggs of GSR Services. Much was made of his time at Goldman Sachs but, in truth, he is an energy guy from Houston, proving that crypto immigrants are coming from all corners. For the record, he and GSR see a big future in altcoins and his fellow panelist Brad Vopni from Hudson River Trading and moderator Frank Chaparro of The Block held one of the most interesting conversations of the day. My light bulb moment: the crypto universe is still expanding and the presence of between 200 and 300 credible platforms (numbers given by both Vopni and Griggs) and the lack of interoperability makes comprehensive prime brokerage an impossibility. For now at least.
- The quest for a bitcoin ETF remains the industries holy grail and, lest you’ve forgotten, no one ever found that either. James Seyffart of Bloomberg moderated an ETF panel that featured Craig Salm of Grayscale Investments, Cboe’s Laura Morrison, Ryan Louvar from WisdomTree Asset Management and Laura Flores of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. The learned and esteemed panel did a remarkable job of dissecting every regulatory acronym and parsing countless mind numbing scenarios but the subject was summed up best for me by Brad Koeppen of CMT Digital in the previous panel. To paraphrase, Koeppen looks at an ETF go-ahead from the SEC as a regulatory stamp of approval because there are myriad ways to gain a similar exposure already. A highly symbolic yet validating stamp of approval, I would add.
- Much has been made of the fact that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been spawned from a non-traditional source that combines cryptography, software development and anarchists instead of the hallowed halls of finance and this has brought many unique individuals to the fore. It has also fostered the ascendance of some bright stars as well and Michael Sonnenshein of Grayscale is a shining example of this. Sure, he spent a few years at BofA, Barclays and JP Morgan but his titles there were analyst, analyst, and associate. He joined Greyscale in 2014, a veritable eternity ago in cryptoland, and is now CEO. He’s an example of the type of young grown-up that the crypto markets need more of.
That’s it for today. There’s one more day of this so I’ll report back with a few more tidbits after sitting through four more hours of presentations tomorrow. I do it so that you don’t have to.
Chuck Mackie is a principal at Fathom Communication. Fathom provides thought leadership strategy and content that delivers both depth and understanding for financial services and technology innovators.