May 20, 2024 - Business

Grayscale chief Michael Sonnenshein resigns, to be succeeded by Goldman exec

Michael Sonnenshein speaking.

Michael Sonnenshein. Photo: Jeenah Moon/ Getty Images

Michael Sonnenshein has stepped down as chief of Grayscale Investments, the issuer behind the largest spot bitcoin fund best known by its ticker, GBTC.

Why it matters: Prior to bitcoin ETF approvals in January, The Grasycale Bitcoin trust had been the only game in town since 2013 — but it has started buckling under new competitive pressure since its conversion, hemorrhaging assets and suffering several consecutive weeks of outflows.

Incoming Goldman Sachs executive Peter Mintzberg will step into the role in August, according to a press release; Mintzberg will also join Grayscale's board of directors.

The big picture: Sonnenshein's departure comes at an interesting point for Grayscale.

  • It comes after the firm's industry-shaking win against the Securities and Exchange Commission that paved the way for the bitcoin ETF approvals, and just before the regulator is set to make a decision on applications for ether ETFs.

Sonnenshein said via social media that he leaves with "deep gratitude" for those involved, including Barry Silbert, chief of Grayscale parent company Digital Currency Group.

Between the lines: In just the few months since the launch of spot bitcoin ETFs and its own conversion, GBTC has ceded much of its incumbent ground to BlackRock, whose own bitcoin ETF is poised to trounce GBTC in assets.

  • GBTC at its peak once held more than $40 billion in assets under management, and now has about half that.

Zoom in: GBTC charges the highest fee of the spot bitcoin ETFs that launched in January, though, Grayscale has also put forth plans to launch a sister product with a mini fee.

What we're watching: Perhaps Mintzberg, who is currently GSAM's global head of strategy, has different plans for Grayscale.

  • That would, in part, explain the mystery behind the recently withdrawn 19b-4 application for its ethereum futures ETF earlier this month.
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