Crypto Exchange Bitstamp Hires CME, Kraken Alumnus as U.S. CEO

Bitstamp Ltd. has hired Robert Zagotta as U.S. chief executive officer as the London-based cryptocurrency exchange looks to build an American presence.

Zagotta was most recently chief commercial officer at Kraken, and prior to that was a member of the executive team at financial exchange and markets operator CME Group Inc.

The firm is taking on U.S.-based exchanges including Coinbase Global Inc. as the crypto industry booms, drawing big-name investors and traditional financial companies alike.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, has declined by more than 50% since mid-April amid a clampdown in China and questions about its energy consumption sparked by Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk. Even so, its value has nearly quadrupled in value over the past year.

Crypto exchanges are under pressure, too. Coinbase soared immediately after its direct listing on the Nasdaq, but has since fallen 10%. Binance.US hired Trump-era regulator Brian Brooks as its CEO in May with the firm and its global affiliate, the largest crypto exchange by reported turnover, facing questions from regulators. At the same time crypto derivatives exchange FTX just completed a round of fund-raising that values it at $18 billion.

In a statement announcing Zagotta’s hire, Bitstamp said the influx of new customers was up 570% in the first half of 2021 while assets under management grew 281%.

“I want to expand our product offerings, both in terms of assets listed and other value-added products that make life and trading easier for our customers,” Zagotta said by email.

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