A couple weeks ago, I left my business development job at Google to join itBit, a Bitcoin exchange, as COO. I’m incredibly excited about this move, and a lot of friends have matched my enthusiasm with support for the move. But there are also a few puzzled faces.
I can understand why some people would think I’m crazy. As one of the giants of the technology industry, Google is an incredibly successful company, and I spent the past year at Google working with some of the smartest, most hardworking and determined people I’ve ever met. Every process has been refined and optimized for the desired results. For me, it was a master class in business execution. The dreams and visions of Larry and Sergey are being realized by tens of thousands of employees. The scale of Google is truly amazing to behold, and I learned so much from seeing how a large, fast growing and successful company operates.
And of course, there were the perks. I worked in huge, beautiful offices with endless buffets of great food, I was home every day by a reasonable hour, and the brand recognition went a long way (especially with my in-laws).
So why would I possibly leave all of that? Well in a way, Google was so massive and inspiring that I had to leave. I learned how to think really big, and it made me want to work on something that was also world-changing, but where I could personally have even more impact.
In my eyes, Bitcoin is that opportunity.
I’ve been interested in Bitcoin for several years. I agree with what has now become a common analogy: Bitcoin feels like what the Internet felt like in 1994. It’s a transformative technology that is often misunderstood, but has unlimited potential to change how the world works and how we understand the basic concepts of money and value.
At the heart of the Bitcoin universe, and any financial system, are exchanges. A digital currency still needs to interact with fiat currency in order to bridge the physical and digital worlds. itBit is an exchange that is regulatorily compliant, institutional-grade, and built for the long-term. As an investor through my seed fund Liberty City Ventures, I’ve had a front seat to the show, getting to see how itBit has steadily made progress as it has grown and developed. It also afforded me the opportunity to get involved in a more meaningful way. As an entrepreneur and startup guy at heart, I leaped at the chance.
So as itBit founder and Liberty City Ventures partner Chad Cascarilla has joined the ranks as CEO, I’m joining as COO to focus on our internal operations and ensure that we’re operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. As I’ve worked with Chad over the years, I’ve found him to be an operator with both incredible vision and tremendous smarts. (He’s the benchmark of intelligence that I measure everyone else in the world. “Sure that guy is smart. But is he Chad-smart?” The answer is always no. No one is.) I trust him implicitly and think he’s got the exact right mix of experience working in traditional finance, Bitcoin and startups to take itBit to the next level. I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside him.
As I move back into a startup role, I can look back fondly at my time at Google. I gained new skills, insights, and had a chance to see how the best operate at scale. I’m taking those lessons to help scale up itBit with a renewed vision for what we can become.