Dec 4, 2019

Cryptocurrency CEO selected for interim Georgia Senate seat

Kelly Loeffler. Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to name Kelly Loeffler as interim U.S. senator has generated lots of political buzz, due to some Trump loyalists claiming betrayal.

Why it matters: The intra-GOP skirmish has obscured the big business story, in that Loeffler will become one of precious few senators with a working knowledge of technology and, in particular, blockchain technology.

Context: Loeffler is founding CEO of Bakkt, an Atlanta-based cryptocurrency custodian and infrastructure company formed in mid-2018 as a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange.

  • Bakkt launched with over $180 million in Series A funding from ICE, Microsoft, Starbucks, Boston Consulting Group, and a raft of blockchain-focused investors.
  • In September it (finally) deployed physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts, to better encourage cryptocurrency trading, and volume keeps hitting new highs.
  • Bakkt also said its early 2020 plans include a consumer-facing app that would enable consumers to buy merchant goods via digital assets.
  • Loeffler isn't a techie by training — she previously led IR and marketing at ICE — but she's a savant by senate standards.

The big picture: The Senate has expressed interest in more clearly regulating digital assets, particularly in the aftermath of Facebook's Libra announcement. And most of the mainstream crypto market would welcome common rules of the road, but are understandably worried that most senators are swimming in ignorant waters.

  • Loeffler won't have too much legislative sway, given her interim status and inherent controversy, but she could become an invaluable asset for both sides of the conversation.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Kemp picks GOP donor Kelly Loeffler to fill Georgia Senate seat, defying Trump

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Wednesday that he has selected Republican donor and businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill the soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat of Johnny Isakson.

Why it matters: In appointing Loeffler, Kemp is defying pressure from President Trump and other GOP leaders who have backed Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a staunch ally of the president who would be a lock to vote against removal in the event of an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 4, 2019

The CEO's boss

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Justin Sullivan/Getty and Saul Loe/Getty

Being a CEO used to mean something very clear: You were the top dog, answerable only to the collective will of a board of directors. Today's CEOs, by contrast, are often deep down in the org chart, fireable by a boss who in turn is fireable by an even higher-up boss.

The big picture: Regional heads, heads of subsidiaries, heads of business lines — all of them now lay claim to the CEO title. Mark O’Donovan, for instance, is the CEO of Chase Auto, a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Bank that is itself a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019

Asset managers urge caution in 2020

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Investors can expect higher stock prices but also a lot of potential potholes in 2020, according to the investment forecasts of major asset managers.

What they're saying: "[I]n 2020 the margin for error — and opportunity — will likely be as small as it’s been in a very long time," top strategists at State Street Global Advisors wrote in their 2020 outlook.

Go deeperArrowDec 12, 2019