Guy Hirsch is Kraken’s new Managing Director for North America and he joined the Kraken team this month after building crypto businesses at Samsung and eToro. He is an experienced crypto trader and has some forward-looking ideas for the future of the industry.
Hirsch will oversee Kraken’s business in North America and be responsible for growth and expansion. He has worked in crypto since 2010 and is excited to join the team to lead the industry into the next decade.
We sat down with Hirsch to talk about his crypto experience and philosophy.
Kraken: Why don’t you just review a bit of your background. How did you get interested in crypto?
Hirsch: I started in 2010. That’s when things started to get more active around Bitcoin. I was in San Francisco and was very involved in startups and startup accelerators. I had my own startup at the time, a retail analytics platform called Saygent, but I started hearing about bitcoin.
We had a few regular dinners with people from Silicon Valley and I was sitting with Vinny Lingham, the founder of Civic. We spent three hours talking about bitcoin. He urged me to invest at least $10,000 and convince my friends and family to do the same. I unfortunately didn’t take his advice, but went home and downloaded a wallet and started experimenting with it.
I was super curious and slowly understood the people behind crypto, i.e. the cypherpunks, a little better. I understood that it was also an ideological movement to create native digital money. This is when I completely settled into crypto.
Then in 2013, my startup was hired by Samsung to develop the first POS system for Samsung retail stores. I suggested they incorporate bitcoin as a payment method, maybe for tourists who didn’t want to spend local currency. It was my first time officially working on something related to Bitcoin.
In 2017, Yoni Assia, co-founder of eToro and an old friend, offered me the position of Managing Director of eToro in the United States. Basically, the talk was that eToro was growing dramatically and crypto was the future. I would help expedite this mission. It appealed to me a lot. I spent five years really building a crypto business in the United States. I was doing marketing, I was working on compliance, I was working on regulations. A little bit of everything.
Kraken has arrived and I think it’s very unique to find a company that champions a set of public values and supports the crypto mission.
K: What excites you the most about crypto in 2023?
Hirsch: So I think there are a number of things. One is the institutional adoption of crypto. I think that means both on the trading side and also the adoption by trade shops like banks and brokers. In fact, trad-fi is starting to offer crypto exposure to its clients and they trade it on their own books. Even corporate treasuries are considering allocating cryptos to have a more diversified portfolio. And finally, on the institutional side, I’m particularly excited that US-registered investment advisers will be more knowledgeable about crypto. They put together an easy, viable, and compliant way to expose their clients to crypto.
I’m also excited about NFTs. But when I say NFT, it’s about how culture meets technology. NFTs are the ultimate way to marry these things. I think we will see “real” NFTs with new partners using the technology for ticketing, events and real physical goods. This will be the next wave of integrating a billion people into crypto by affinity rather than speculation.
K: Last question: if you could sit down with one person, living or dead, to talk about crypto, who would it be?
Hirsch: That’s a good question. I think the former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin because I want to understand why he was so adamantly against crypto. What were the forces pushing him to try to make all these anti-crypto moves? I thought we had a number of people in this administration who were very into crypto. I wonder why Mnuchin was so adamantly against it. I would love to spend three hours with him on this and maybe change my mind and figure out how to help current and future leaders embrace crypto.