BlackRock, the investment firm with $7.8 trillion in assets under management, has published a job posting for a Vice President, blockchain lead. The role isn’t for developing blockchain technology but for making investments in digital assets and blockchain firms.
The firm is looking for a business person rather than a technical candidate but someone who can provide a methodology for valuing crypto-assets and talk about topics such as hashing and consensus mechanisms. The person would need to understand decentralized governance models and be able to analyze a blockchain’s network’s design, especially concerning speed, scalability, privacy and security.
In April 2019, BlackRock hired former Ripple executive Robbie Mitchnick to lead its digital assets area. He also penned a paper outlining a methodology for valuing crypto-assets. In a podcast in September that year, Mitchnick was referred to as the firm’s ‘blockchain lead’ and outlined precisely the same performance trade-offs of speed, scalability, privacy and security.
Interestingly given the recent SEC action against Ripple, Mitchnick spoke about centralization. He said that scalability is only still a limitation for decentralized permissionless networks. “If you’re willing to sacrifice on true decentralization, and have a predetermined set of institutional validators, which in many use cases is a perfectly reasonable trade-off, then actually speed and scale can be orders of magnitude higher,” said Mitchnick.
And he went on to outline a long list of financial applications where he believes enterprise blockchain is relevant. These include payments, KYC, trade finance, derivatives, proxy voting, bank loans, securitized lending, and REPO.
The job ad comes at a time of heightened institutional interest in the cryptocurrency sector. Earlier this month MassMutual announced it invested $100 million in bitcoin. And several banks unveiled institutional cryptocurrency ventures, including Standard Chartered, Northern Trust,BBVA Switzerland and Singapore’s DBS Bank.