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People

Wall Street crypto exodus continues with another key exit

Quick Take

  • Rob Salman, Business Development lead at CoinList, has left the firm after five months
  • He joins a growing list of Wall Street departures since October

The week has ended with a further blow to the crypto talent pool, The Block has learned.

CoinList’s Rob Salman, who was responsible for building out its institutional arm with an alternative trading system (ATS), has left the company, according to people familiar with the situation. He joined the token-sale firm as Head of Business Development in September 2018 from IEX, where he began hiring engineers to build the ATS. 

A CoinList spokesperson confirmed Salman’s departure, and said the pipeline for the ATS would be unaffected.

“CoinList’s plans for 2019 remain fully on track. We are looking forward to launching new products into the exciting and ever-changing digital asset market this year,” they said. Meanwhile, Salman is reportedly exploring “opportunities elsewhere,” according to source. 

To be sure, CoinList, which raised $9.2 million in 2018 in a Series A, told The Block earlier this month that it has evolved its own business, president Andy Bromberg said.

“We are no longer providing investment advice to the investor. We are merely vetting projects — allowing investors to do their own due diligence. We are providing marketing services.”  

The step back away from being a Registered Investment Advisor and charging investors is no small step. But Bromberg shut down rumours it had been triggered by regulatory pressure, despite it being “a huge burden”, including quarterly reports and extensive due diligence.

Wall Street jitters?

Other recent crypto flyaways include Chris Yoshida, who served as CSO at crypto marketplace-builder TrueEx. He left in October 2018 after just one year, The Block has learned. According to his LinkedIn, he is now a Senior Advisor at The Carlyle Group – one of the world’s leading investment firms.

Meanwhile, The Block reported in January that Jonathan Kellner, who led brokerage giant Instinet, had halted plans to join Coinbase to lead institutional sales and support. He would have been one of the most notable Wall Street hires in crypto, but after Coinbase’s internal pivot away from institutional outreach, the firm confirmed his role had been withdrawn. Kellner is set to run a new equities exchange, dubbed MEMX. 

ITG broker veteran Jamie Selway also recently left Blockchain.com after a brief tenure as a senior exec which began last August, citing the lack of an institutional wave, which he had been due to manage.

It seems Wall Street’s hesitation to join the crypto space en masse may have made some roles redundant – or sparked uncertainty within. Still, other market observers question whether the crypto world is ready for Wall Street’s rules. 

“You have a lot of former Wall Streeters who have tried to build [crypto businesses] as they would in traditional financial services who were met with opposition or impediments,” one insider said. 

“It is very much a cultural battle ground,” a crypto exchange employee told The Block.