Crypto Hiring: Eclipse Labs names new leader in week of CEO updates

Bitcoin miner Bitfarms cuts ties with its chief executive; Vanguard’s incoming leader could spur the firm to re-evaluate its crypto stance, some say

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Eclipse Labs and Adobe Stock modified by Blockworks

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Two crypto companies named new CEOs this week. What some would consider an anti-crypto firm did too.

Vijay Chetty replaced Neel Somani as Eclipse Labs’ chief executive, the company said in a Wednesday X post.

Chetty had been the blockchain startup’s chief growth officer for the last year or so. He previously held leadership roles at Uniswap Labs, dYdX Trading and Ripple Labs.

His promotion came after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against Somani — claims the now-former CEO called “false.”

Hack VC, which co-led a $50 million Series A funding round for Eclipse Labs in March, said Somani’s alleged behavior was “unacceptable.”

Read more: Eclipse secures $50M ahead of mainnet launch

“Since learning about the allegations, we [have] worked hard with other investors and the team to correct the situation, including urging Neel to resign, and we are pleased to see that happen,” Hack VC added.

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A second CEO development this week is a temporary appointment. 

Bitcoin miner Bitfarms on Monday named co-founder Nicolas Bonta the company’s interim president and CEO while an executive search continues. The switch happened the same day that Bitfarms ousted Geoffrey Morphy from the CEO post.

The mining company had said in March that Morphy would be leaving the role only after his replacement was found. That transition was accelerated after Morphy last week filed a statement of claim against Bitfarms in the Superior Court of Ontario.

Morphy is claiming $27 million worth of damages for alleged breach of contract and wrongful dismissal. Bitfarms said the claims are “without merit,” noting the company “intends to defend itself vigorously.” 

A third CEO update came from a company nobody would call crypto-focused. 

Vanguard, a fund giant with more than $8 trillion assets under management, named the former head of BlackRock’s ETF business as its incoming CEO. Salim Ramji will fill the role in July, replacing the retiring Tim Buckley.  

Why might this be notable from a crypto standpoint?

Well, Ramji helped the world’s largest asset manager launch the iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) — a fund that, in four months on the market, has grown to roughly $18 billion in assets. 

BlackRock’s spot bitcoin fund launch reflected an effort to “help investors gain access to parts of the market that otherwise have been more difficult or really expensive or opaque for them to access otherwise,” Ramji said in a July 2023 interview on Bloomberg TV. 

Read more: Yes, Vanguard’s new CEO supported BlackRock’s bitcoin ETF launch

He now leads a company that has called crypto’s investment case “weak.” Vanguard also does not allow users of its brokerage platform to buy and trade bitcoin ETFs.  

Some expect the hire could spark a change in Vanguard’s attitude toward the space, even if gradual.

Ramji signaled in an interview with Barron’s this week that he may not push a change, noting “it’s important for firms to have consistency in terms of what they stand for and the products and services they offer.”

But never say never, as the adage goes.

“Eventually…Vanguard will indeed offer bitcoin ETFs,” Ric Edelman, founder of the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals, told Blockworks. “From a purely business perspective, it’s foolish not to. And Salim is not foolish.”

Other notable hiring news

  • Jack Melnick, who left Polygon Labs last week, joined layer-1 Berachain. His title — head of DeFi — remained the same.    
  • Luc Froehlich, who formerly led the digital assets unit at Fidelity International, is now chief commercial officer of decentralized credit intelligence platform Synnax.
  • Ava Labs marketing executive Jay Kurahashi-Sofue said Friday he would be leaving the company after four years there. His next role was not immediately clear.  
  • Noah Levine is set to help lead Visa’s on-chain analytics efforts as a crypto analyst. He was previously a data and analytics lead at RTFKT.
  • Crypto-focused lawyers Lewis Rinaudo Cohen, Gregory Strong and Sarah Chen joined Cahill Gordon & Reindel as partners of its digital assets and emerging technology practice.

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