FTX, a Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, hit a $32 billion valuation. The valuation is even more eye-popping because Bankman-Fried started the company less than three years ago.
Amid the cryptocurrency exchange’s rapid growth and the evolving regulatory landscape, it has expanded its legal team. FTX.US, a separate exchange that allows U.S. residents to trade, has hired a former top law firm partner as its general counsel.
New General Counsel Has Private and Public Sector Experience
Ryne Miller was a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. While at Sullivan & Cromwell, Mr. Miller co-chaired the firm’s commodities, futures, and derivatives practice. He will join FTX.US at a time when U.S. regulators are close to drafting new rules for cryptocurrencies.
Brett Harrison, the President of FTX.US, highlighted the importance of a robust internal legal team. “As lawmakers and regulators continue to develop a U.S. regulatory framework for digital assets, we expect crypto to play a much larger role in the broader financial landscape in 2022 and beyond,” Mr. Harrison stated. “We’re excited to continue working cooperatively with them and feel confident that FTX.US will emerge as the leading U.S.-regulated crypto spot and derivatives exchange.”
In addition to private sector experience at a large New York law firm, Mr. Miller was a lawyer at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). He served as lead counsel for Gary Gensler, who was chair of the CFTC at that time. Gary Gensler is currently the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the main regulatory body responsible for enforcing securities laws in the United States.
Mr. Miller’s experience in both the private and public sectors with legal issues that impact digital asset markets will undoubtedly be helpful. “His industry expertise and leadership will be critical as we forge cooperative working relationships with U.S. regulators amid the expansion of our businesses,” Mr. Harrison commented. “We share with them the desire to establish digital assets as a safe and reliable investment vehicle, and with Ryne we are confident we will serve as a helpful resource in achieving this goal.”
The Seismic Growth of FTX
FTX has grown at a seismic pace and its U.S. arm FTX.US has not been far behind. The U.S. digital currency exchange’s U.S. affiliate is operated by West Realm Shires Services Inc. FTX.US was established as a sister exchange because of U.S. regulatory scrutiny. The wider company FTX was originally incorporated in Hong Kong, but recently moved its headquarters to the Bahamas.
Despite the recent drop in crypto prices, many see a market upswing soon. The recent downturn in prices, which some call a “crypto winter,” has partly been driven by concerns over upcoming interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. However, this news has pushed markets down overall, including the U.S. stock market.
Investors Optimistic about FTX Long-term Potential
Investors are optimistic about the long-term potential of FTX.US and crypto markets. Matt Huang, co-founder and managing partner of giant crypto investment firm Paradigm, is confident in the team behind FTX.US. “Paradigm has been fortunate to be an investor in FTX’s global business, and we are thrilled to invest in FTX.US. The team is world class and their focus on great products and regulatory engagement will help ensure access to crypto for millions of Americans,” Mr. Huang stated.
Growing Legal and Compliance Teams
Aside from hiring Mr. Miller to head the legal department, FTX.US has been building up its legal and compliance team. In March 2021, FTX.US hired Alfarida Mohammed as senior vice president of compliance. Ms. Mohammed formerly worked in a compliance and risk management role at UBS bank. FTX.US also hired Adrian Guye, a former UBS director, as deputy general counsel in 2021.
“The FTX U.S. team is laying the groundwork to become the dominant trading platform in the United States for all things crypto: spot trading, derivatives, and NFTs,” said Kyle Samani, managing partner at Multicoin Capital. “They are growing market share as customers recognize the power and flexibility of the platform, and we expect that to accelerate as the product suite accelerates.”
A group of investors led a $400 million financing round in FTX at the beginning of 2022. The new financing will enable FTX to compete with rivals like Coinbase and Binance. FTX has rapidly emerged from being an obscure name to one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
FTX’s CEO emphasized the company’s commitment to cooperating with regulatory bodies. “With the ongoing support from our dedicated investors and userbase, FTX will look to continue interacting with regulators to facilitate access to digital assets in a safe and compliant manner,” said Bankman-Fried.