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The 2016 Tech 50: Blythe Masters

The Digital Asset Holdings CEO debuts on our annual Tech 50 ranking at No. 17.

Blythe Masters
Chief Executive Officer
Digital Asset Holdings

Blythe Masters may at first blush seem an unlikely evangelist for the distributed ledger technology known as blockchain. A 1991 graduate of the University of Cambridge with a BA in economics, the U.K. native held a variety of management roles across JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s global capital markets businesses, including credit derivatives, asset-backed securities and commodities. “I grew up deep in the inner workings of the financial services industry,” says Masters, 47, CEO of New York–based blockchain start-up Digital Asset Holdings. “I couldn’t do what I’m doing now if it hadn’t been for the almost 30 years I spent at JPMorgan.” Masters became friends with Digital Asset co-founder Sunil Hirani when JPMorgan invested in his credit default swap brokerage, Creditex Group, in the late ’90s. She joined Hirani and his co-founder, Don Wilson (of Chicago’s DRW Trading Group), on the Digital Asset board in December 2014 and became CEO in March 2015. “In blockchain I saw a technology that had the potential to mutualize infrastructure in a way that has not been practically possible to do before,” Masters explains. Noting that blockchain had been best known for powering the controversial cryptocurrency Bitcoin, she says: “People started to assume that the tenets of the Bitcoin movement — anonymity, open to everyone, no central administrator — were inviolate features of the technology. But it turns out that you can change the assumptions.” Digital Asset is building “encrypted, distributed, straight-through processing tools” that will allow financial services companies to reduce costs, increase capital efficiency and strengthen cybersecurity. The 70-person company, which has offices in Budapest, London, San Francisco, Sydney, Tel Aviv and Zurich, intends to generate revenue through software licenses and contracts. It currently is working with ASX — which in June invested $7 million to raise its stake in Digital Asset to 8.5 percent — to develop a distributed-ledger-based posttrade infrastructure for the Australian cash equities market, and with Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (see Michael Bodson, No. 14) on a new clearing and settlement system for U.S. Treasury repurchase agreements. “A lot of people say blockchain equals the avenue by which the natural intermediaries will be put out of business because you don’t need them anymore,” Masters says. “We have a very different view. We believe that blockchain will enable financial intermediaries to do a better job of providing the services they provide.”

Visit The 2016 Tech 50: Making Financial Services Faster, Cheaper, Bigger for more.

The 2016 Tech 50

1. Catherine
Bank of America Corp.
2. Jeffrey Sprecher
Intercontinental Exchange
3. Lance Uggla
4. Phupinder Gill
CME Group
5. Shawn Edwards and Vlad Kliatchko
6. R. Martin Chavez
Goldman Sachs Group
7. Robert Goldstein
8. Adena Friedman
9. Deborah Hopkins
Citi Ventures
10. Daniel Coleman
KCG Holdings
11. Stephen Neff
Fidelity Investments
12. David Craig
Thomson Reuters
13. Michael Spencer
14. Michael Bodson
Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.
15. Charles Li
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
16. Chris Concannon
BATS Global Markets
17. Blythe Masters
Digital Asset Holdings
18. David Rutter
19. Neil Katz
D.E. Shaw & Co.
20. Lee Olesky
Tradeweb Markets
21. Richard McVey
MarketAxess Holdings
22. Seth Merrin
Liquidnet Holdings
23. Robert Alexander
Capital One Financial Corp.
24. Brad Katsuyama
IEX Group
25. Antoine Shagoury
State Street Corp.
26. David Gledhill
DBS Bank
27. Lou Eccleston
TMX Group
28. Andreas Preuss
Deutsche BÖrse
29. Dan Schulman
PayPal Holdings
30. Scott Dillon
Wells Fargo & Co.
31. Mike Chinn
S&P Global Market Intelligence
32. Craig Donohue
Options Clearing Corp.
33. Gary Norcross
Fidelity National Information Services
34. Steven O'Hanlon
35. Sebastián Ceria
36. Michael Cooper
BT Radianz
37. Tyler Kim
38. Neal Pawar
AQR Capital Management
39. David Harding
Winton Capital Management
40. Chris Corrado
London Stock Exchange Group
41. Brian Conlon
First Derivatives
42. Jim Minnick
43. Stephane Dubois
44. Mazy Dar
45. Yasuki Okai
NRI Holdings America
46. Kim Fournais
Saxo Bank
47. Jock Percy
48. Robert Schifellite
Broadridge Financial Solutions
49. Brian Sentance
Xenomorph Software
50. Pieter van der Does

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