Paradigm CFO, general consul to depart in crypto shakeup: reports

Dive Brief:

  • Cryptocurrency venture capital firm Paradigm CFO Nathan Apsel is expected to depart from his role later this month, with the company’s general counsel, Reena Jashnani-Slusarz, also expected to leave by that time, according to internal emails reviewed by crypto news site The Block.   
  • Katie Biber, the San Francisco, California-based company’s chief legal officer, will continue to lead the company’s legal team, while the company begins the hunt for a new CFO over the next few months,The Block reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter.
  • The company’s executive shakeup comes as the cryptocurrency industry has struggled to regain its footing in the wake of the collapse of cyrpto exchange FTX and other major crypto players. The collapses have led to sharpter scrutiny of the sector from regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dive Insight:

Apsel has served as Paradim’s CFO since November 2021, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before joining the company, he served as finance chief for Austin, Texas-based VC firm 8VC, and also logged an eight-year tenure as a senior manager with Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Jashnani-Slusarz also joined Paradigm in 2021 as its GC, previously serving as managing director and deputy general counsel for Elementum Advisors, LLC, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Founded in 2018, Paradigm has over $8.7 billion in assets under management, according to company statements, with its portfolio including investments in notable crypto players including Coinbase and FTX.

Apsel joined the VC in the same month that it closed its $2.5 billion “Paradigm One” fund, the largest crypto investment fund to date at that time, according to a 2021 Financial Times report. The fund included investments from such companies as FTX, which sunk $20 million into Paradigm One, the Financial Times reported.

The reported executive departures come as the cryptocurrency industry faces increased regulatory scrutiny, particularly in the wake of FTX’s large-scale collapse in November 2022 which has continued to send shockwaves through the crypto industry.

Under the leadership of Chair Gary Gensler, the SEC has brought lawsuits against several large-scale players and exchanges in the industry following FTX’s collapse, including Coinbase and Ripple. The SEC’s tougher stance on crypto has been criticized by key industry players, including Paradigm, which has filed amicus briefs in support of crypto exchanges Bittrex and Coinbase as they tussle with the regulator.

Together with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Paradigm filed an amicus brief in the SEC’s ongoing suit against Coinbase last month, arguing that the SEC’s complaint against the exchange should be dismissed. Besides investing in Coinbase, the exchange’s co-founder Fred Ehrsam helped to fund the Paradigm One fund, with Ehrsam also serving as Paradigm’s president for five years as well as currently serving on Paradigm’s board of directors, according to the brief.

“Amici are deeply concerned that a decision endorsing the unsupported and broad expansion of regulatory authority asserted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) would have sweeping adverse effects on amici and the burgeoning blockchain industry,” the brief states.

The VC firms also asserted that the SEC’s position “represents an untenable and unjustified expansion of the laws it administers — threatening to disrupt markets not only in digital assets, but also in a wide range of asset transactions that have never been the province of the SEC.”

Paradigm also chided the SEC’s crypto approach in its amicus brief in support of Bittrex, noting that “as recently as two years ago, the current SEC Chair acknowledged before Congress that the SEC lacked authority to regulate secondary markets in crypto assets,” they said in the brief — pointing to 2021 testimony by Gensler to the House’s Committee on Financial Services.

“Nothing has changed since the Chair’s testimony except the boundaries of the SEC’s regulatory ambition,” they asserted in the brief.

Paradigm did not respond to a request for comment on their executives’ potential departures.

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About the Author: Daniel