April 21, 2022
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol Fintech. This Thursday: Robinhood resumes its British expansion, Binance steps in a pile of emoji, and sanctions against Russia’s virtual-currency mining industry.
When you screw up massively, could you please at least not blame the intern? That’s how Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao sort of apologized for creating an emoji resembling a swastika that appeared whenever someone tweeted #Binance on Twitter. The company said the emoji’s rollout was “obviously really embarrassing.” Guess this might be something for Binance’s new in-house government affairs team to work on in its spare time?
— Owen Thomas (email | twitter)
Two years after putting its U.K. expansion on hold, Robinhood is taking aim at the major financial market once again.
The company’s acquisition of digital asset firm Ziglu highlights its growing emphasis on crypto. The decision to buy one of the few crypto companies licensed to operate in the U.K. also suggests that, when it comes to crypto, Robinhood understands the importance of playing by the rules.
Robinhood once gave up on the U.K. The company began expanding in the country in 2019, but announced the following year that its U.K. launch and its “global expansion plans” had been put on hold.
It’s all about crypto this time. Robinhood is now pretty much a crypto company, particularly abroad. Buying Ziglu is part of that strategy.
It’s not clear if taking crypto global will lift Robinhood’s flagging shares. Wall Street couldn’t make up its mind. HOOD rallied when the acquisition was first announced Tuesday, before giving up those gains the following day. But “in a down market, Robinhood is making the right move to expand to the U.K. and Europe and expand its user base,” Brue said.— Benjamin Pimentel (email | twitter)
M&A and workforce reorganization can create a wealth of opportunities for companies seeking rapid growth, transformation and market expansion. In fact, 47% of executives say pursuing corporate M&As, joint ventures and alliances is their top growth driver in 2022. Unfortunately, nearly half of executives say talent acquisition and retention challenges are the biggest obstacle.
On Protocol: Coinbase’s long-anticipated NFT marketplace has been unveiled with its beta launch on Wednesday. Beta testers will now be able to buy and sell NFTs with a Coinbase wallet or a self-custody wallet.
Also on Protocol: Binance.US is quitting the Blockchain Association, which is ironic, because Binance.US joining the industry trade group is why Coinbase pulled out two years ago. Binance’s American arm is now building up its own government affairs team.The latest U.S. sanctions on Russia include crypto mining operations. The U.S. Treasury noted that Russia’s mining industry is the third-largest in the world, and the new round of sanctions will be the first time virtual-currency mining companies are targeted for sanctions.
David Schwartz, CTO at Ripple, isn’t impressed with Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter moderation. “This is an incredibly bad policy that works absurdly poorly. It rewards unreasonable people and punishes reasonable people. And if there's one lesson to learn from economics, it's that people respond to incentives,” he tweeted.
Michael Barr is Biden’s nominee to become the Fed’s vice chairman for supervision. Barr is a former Treasury Department official. If confirmed, he will oversee the biggest financial firms, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citi.
DriveWealth appointed Gayathri Rajan as chief product officer and Harshal Deo as CTO. Rajan previously held leadership roles at Google for Google Pay and Maps, while Deo worked at eBay and PayPal.
Bitso appointed Thales Araújo de Freitas as country manager for its Brazil operations. Araújo de Freitas previously worked at money transfer firm Global66 and banks Citi and HSBC before joining the crypto exchange.
Former Citi exec Sandy Kaul is joining Franklin Templeton as an SVP. Kaul is the former global head of Business Advisory Services at Citi Prime Finance, and will have a special focus on digital assets and models at her new position.
Anthony Levandowski is the new CEO of crypto startup Pollen Mobile. Levandowski, a former Uber executive pardoned by Trump after being convicted of stealing trade secrets while working at Alphabet’s Waymo unit, has found VC funding for his new startup.Dustin Cohn joined real-estate startup Cadre as chief marketing officer. Cohn was most recently consumer bank branding chief at Goldman Sachs, joining a number of other executives exiting the bank in the past two years.
ProEdge can help you conduct a skill gap analysis across your organization and gain insights you can leverage to develop forward-looking plans while taking into account the needs of the entire enterprise, including individuals, teams and functions. In an M&A scenario, an upskilling program like ProEdge can also be used to uncover employees’ skills that weren’t utilized before.
Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!