The blockchain industry has lost a high-profile cheerleader.
Blythe Masters, the former JPMorgan Chase employee who invented credit default swaps, resigned from her position as chief executive officer at Digital Asset Holdings LLC. According to a press release on the firm’s website, Masters requested to step down from her position due to “personal reasons.” She will continue as board member, shareholder, and strategic advisor to the firm. AG Gangadhar, a board member, will be acting CEO until a replacement is found.
Digital Asset Holdings develops blockchain software for banks and financial services organizations. It is among the best-funded organizations in the business, with a capital raise of over $115 million as of May 2018. It’s most high-profile partner is the Australian Securities Exchange, which is attempting to transition its systems to blockchain technology to reduce costs for customers.
Masters departure is the latest in a string of bad news for crypto and blockchain enthusiasts in tumbling crypto markets. Cryptocurrency markets have entered bear territory since the beginning of this year and valuations for all major cryptoassets, including bitcoin and ethereum’s ether, have capsized. In turn, this has had a detrimental effect on the industry. Ethereum studio ConsenSys recently announced layoffs for 13% of its staff. Steemit, a social media platform based on blockchain, also laid off 70% of its staff after the value of its token declined in the markets.
Digital Asset Holdings was a product company and did not depend on token prices for financing. But commentators point to the exuberant hiring by blockchain companies in last year’s cryptocurrency price run up as a possible reason. In an interview earlier, Masters had referred to blockchain as a generational shift and an “enormous cost-saving and capital enhancing opportunity.”