Goldman Sachs hires crypto expert as new Head of Digital Asset Markets
Leading US bank Goldman Sachs has hired Justin Schmidt as its new Vice President and Head of Digital Asset Markets to lead the bank’s exploration of cryptocurrency investments, Tearsheet reports.
Schmidt is best known as being a crypto trader, joining the bank from New York investment firm Seven Eight Capital where he stood as the company’s Senior Vice President, whilst also having acted as a Portfolio Manager at WorldQuant and LMR Partners previous to this.
Schmidt has been recruited amidst an increasing interest from Goldman into cryptocurrency as a new investment sphere. In December, Bloomberg revealed that the firm was looking at the possibility of creating a new cryptocurrency trading desk that would make markets in digital currencies.
“Still thinking about Bitcoin. No conclusion - not endorsing/rejecting. Know that folks also were skeptical when paper money displaced gold,” said Lloyd Blankenfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, in a tweet in October.
Half a year on, should Goldman pursue such an avenue, something that now seems likely with the appointment of Schmidt, the company would become the largest on Wall Street to make markets in the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum and alike.
“In response to client interest in various digital products, we are exploring how best to serve them in the space,” Goldman spokesperson Galvin-Cohen said in a statement, speaking to Bloomberg. “We have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering.”
Start-ups receive $60 billion investment, smash 2020 record
Start-ups on the continent have raised a massive 43.8 billion euros ($60.9 billion) in just the first six months of 2021, according to figures from Dealroom, surpassing the record 38.5 billion euros invested last year..
This is despite the fact that the number of venture deals signed so far is around half the amount agreed in 2020. Only about 2,700 funding rounds have been raised so far this year, compared to 5,200 last year.
Prime examples in times of change
Examples are Swedish buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna which has raised more than $1.6 billion in two financing rounds, the German stock trading app Trade Republic received $900 million in May and British payments provider Checkout.com snapped up $450 million at the start of the year.
The figures suggest that European tech firms are pulling in far larger sums of money per investment than in previous years, which defies the economic uncertainty of the pandemic and boosted online services enormously.
The CEO of Checkout.com, Guillaume Pousaz, said start-ups have often been created in times of crisis, citing the emergence of several new financial technology companies in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
He added that big transformational change was often the time when there is the emergence of a lot of new start-ups, sometimes when people are losing their jobs for associated reasons.
UK leading the charge
Scale-Up Europe, a group that includes the founders of UiPath and Wise, proposed 21 recommendations to help the region build “the next generation of tech giants.” Among the suggestions are tax credits to corporates for investing in start-ups and regulatory changes that adapt to new innovations.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna, said the U.K. leads Europe when it comes to tech policy, and that there were a number of regulatory issues needing to be addressed before the European Union can produce tech giants of its own.
Siemiatkowski highlighted EU regulation of web cookies as an example of “poor regulation.” Yet, as the number of $1 billion start-ups in Europe continues to grow, the number of exits in the continent is also increasing.
This year has already seen some notable acquisitions, including Etsy’s $1.6 billion purchase of U.K. fashion resale app Depop and JPMorgan’s takeover of London robo-advisor Nutmeg.
As for stock market listings, a number of notable debuts have taken place in London in particular, including food delivery app Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace and reviews site Trustpilot. Money transfer giant Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to go public in the U.K. capital soon.