Coinbase Loses Exec To VC Giant Amid Crypto Market Turmoil

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Coinbase Loses Chief Policy Officer Mike Lempres 

Since its infancy, many have lauded the cryptocurrency industry for catalyzing a so-called “Wall Street (and Silicon Valley) brain drain,” whereas talents from the traditional world have run for the hills — finding solace in the lesser-known, yet growing blockchain space. A multitude of key executives from Wall Street, like ICE’s Kelly Loeffler, and Silicon Valley have tried their hands at blockchain, with some joining notable upstarts like San Francisco-based Coinbase, while other innovators have founded their own firms.

However, in a direct contradiction to this colloquially-dubbed ‘brain drain’, Bloomberg’s Julie Verhage has divulged that Michael (Mike) Lempres, who joined Coinbase in 2017, has decided to depart from the booming crypto startup now valued at $8 billion.

Lempres, who was assigned as Coinbase’s chief risk and legal, was revealed to be leaving his position at the budding crypto-centric startup for Andreessen Horowitz, a world-renowned venture capital firm that has close business ties to Coinbase and a number of crypto-focused projects.

While this move is likely a step backward for the multinational company, the startup seemed amicable with Lempres’ exit when a firm representative wrote:

As chief legal and risk officer during a time of tremendous growth for Coinbase, Mike was instrumental in building the company’s legal and compliance functions and driving our vision of trust through compliance. We wish him the best in his new position with Andreessen Horowitz.

Another Coinbase position Brian Brooks, who was formerly Fannie Mae’s general counsel and executive VP, will be taking Lempres’ old position. But interestingly, sources familiar with this matter noted that Lempres decided to leave the startup when Brooks was initially hired, so this move was likely a long time coming.

Interestingly, this employee shift comes amid a perilous time for cryptocurrency regulation, as the U.S. SEC recently began doubling-down on its efforts to curb bad actors, like questionable startups/platforms and scammy ICOs,  Although the SEC’s crackdown is somewhat justified, some believe that the governmental agency is taking it too far, as it recently struck the founder of EtherDelta, a decentralized exchange, for the unlicensed sale of securities.

It has yet to be revealed what Lempres will be working on at Andreessen Horowitz, but some have speculated that he will play a key role in a16z crypto, the VC giant’s crypto-centric arm.

Crypto Industry Still Booming

Although some were taken aback by Lempres’ surprising exit, with pessimists claiming that the ‘end is nigh’ for Bitcoin and its constituents, the industry is still a hot topic. While Bakkt delayed the release of its Bitcoin (BTC) futures contract, it maintained that its platform is still poised to experience a strong launch, one backed by players from across the globe.

Regardless, that hasn’t hidden the fact that the cryptocurrency market has suffered in recent memory, losing 33% of its aggregate value in the past seven days.

Title Image Courtesy of Marco Verch Via Flickr