Financial markets technology pioneer Blythe Masters has stepped down as CEO of Digital Asset for personal reasons, Global Custodian understands.
According to an internal memo seen by Global Custodian, Masters told her team “working as part of the DA family means the world to me, but I also work for my family’s future and I need to focus on this for a while.”
Former Google, Uber and Amazon Web Services director AG Gangadhar has been appointed chairman of the board and acting chief executive. Gangadhar joined the Digital Asset board in July boasting decades of technology experience, primarily in Silicon Valley.
Masters will remain involved in the company as a board member, strategic advisor and shareholder.
“My belief in DA and the potential for DLT is as strong as it has ever been,” Masters added in the internal note. “I am grateful for and will be forever influenced by the experience of working with you over the past four years to build this amazing company. I hope you are as proud as you should be of everything you had achieved.”
Masters has been one of the faces of blockchain innovation in the capital markets during her three and a half-year tenure as the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) came to the fore in financial services.
Her legacy will include the two major market infrastructure projects with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx), along with growing the company to almost 200 employees with multiple offices worldwide.
The HKEx partnership was announced in October, whereby the exchange will trial the technology to help complete post-trade allocations and processing for northbound trades under Stock Connect within a tight settlement window.
Meanwhile, the ASX is targeting a 2021 go-live for the replacement of its equities clearing and settlement platform with blockchain technology developed by Digital Asset.
Among the near 200 employees Masters has managed to amass during her time at the helm of Digital Asset, many have been distinguished industry veterans, such as Stewart Cowan, a 17-year JP Morgan executive, Kelly Mathieson, also a JP Morgan veteran of over 25 years and former SWIFT global head of securities Chris Church who operates as chief business development officer.
“Digital Asset has evolved from an ambitious idea to a truly global software engineering firm,” added Masters in a public statement. “We are fortunate to have a deep bench of accomplished executives on the management team and Board, including AG, who have the requisite experience to take the company to the next level. Having come to know and trust AG as an advisor and Board member, I am convinced that he brings what’s needed to guide the company through its next phase.”