Blockchain

Blockchain CFO says preparing for an IPO pays dividends, whether you go public or not

Provided by Blockchain

Quick Take

  • Macrina Kgil, CFO of Blockchain, spoke with The Block about her day-to-day responsibilities and future plans for tech company Blockchain
  • Kgil said the company is increasing its transparency and preparing for a public offering, despite not having a solidified plan for an IPO
  • While Blockchain isn’t yet profitable, Kgil said the company’s Swap product is its main revenue generator

After joining technology company Blockchain as its chief financial officer in late 2018, Macrina Kgil has been busy preparing the company to go public, whether or not it ultimately makes the move.

These days, she’s making sure the company has transparency in its corporate governance, and making Blockchain more profitable to prepare for that moment. 

In 2007, Kgil worked with Fortress, a private equity firm, to take one of its portfolio companies, Springleaf, public. That experience shifted her focus to working with financial teams and growing companies before making the leap to crypto at Blockchain.

At Blockchain, she works closely with Peter Smith, CEO, to execute strategic corporate items and company initiatives. She said on a given day she could be talking with investors, Blockchain’s board or even people involved with other companies. Kgil said the internal stakeholders’ perspective is equally valuable to the company’s external investors.

“I love talking to a sounding board and talking to people who have seen other companies, have a lot of investments, they know the good from the bad,” she said. “So the questions that they ask, the direction they are thinking for transparency, that they’re looking for, has been very helpful for me.” 

That sounding board informs the questions Kgil then asks, which she said are currently tied to the regulatory environment and legal risks around the world rather than solely focusing on growth. Balancing an eye for regulatory concerns with an eye for company growth is the most important piece of readying a company for an IPO, according to Kgil.

To be clear, Blockchain hasn’t announced any concrete plans for going public, but Kgil said even preparing for the venture can bring benefits.

“I’m always of the view that we should always be ready for public because that brings a lot of discipline and processing and infrastructure to any company that’s very helpful at the end of the day,” she said.

Prior to Kgil’s arrival, Smith held town halls to communicate across the team. Now, Kgil is widening that communication to document and have a manual of company activity and build a sense of where the company is headed in terms of product. She also said frequent investor communication has been key, bringing more discipline and urgency to development.

That development is currently pointed towards the company’s Swap product, which allows users to exchange one crypto for another, namely BTC, ETH, BCH, XLM and PAX. Assets are exchanged on-chain within Blockchain’s noncustodial wallet. Kgil said in focusing on profitability, Swap is one of its main revenue growers. More products, some relating to Swap, are in the pipeline, according to Kgil.

Whether it IPOs or not, the discipline and urgency Kgil referenced will serve Blockchain well given the current regulatory climate remains opaque for crypto, and high reporting standards internally can mitigate some scrutiny from regulators. While Kgil said her expertise is not in crypto regulation, she said crypto’s cross-border nature naturally draws attention from individual jurisdictions, each seeking to protect their consumers and collect taxes by their own standards. 

“At the end of the day it will merge towards where traditional finance is but where that roadmap is, or where it would go, I truly don’t know,” she said.

Frank Chaparro contributed to this report.

Correction: a previous version of this article reflected that Kgil took Fortress public. It has been updated to reflect that Kgil took Springleaf, a Fortress Portfolio Company.