Axios Pro: Fintech Deals
May 03, 2022
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1 big thing: The art of crypto

Ken Griffin, Founder and CEO, Citadel, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills,
Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

Once a notorious cryptocurrency critic, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin is coming around to accepting its value, if only reluctantly, Ryan writes from the Milken Conference.

Why it matters: Citadel has capitalized on retail stock trading through its ties with Robinhood but has fallen behind some of its peers in the crypto space.

The latest: In an interview with Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker, Griffin said he is living with the reality that "an asset is worth what people perceive it to be worth."

  • He likened crypto's value to that of his abstract art collection. "Why is a painting worth $10 million? It's oil on a canvas. So value is in the eye of the beholder. "
  • But there's a more practical reason for his turnaround: “We help people create portfolios that they think create the greatest value for them. Given the institutional interest in cryptocurrency, it's reasonable to expect to see us be more involved in the crypto space,” he said.
  • The firm hopes to catch up fast by becoming an institutional market maker, just as soon as it can deliver a product that has a very high standard of KYC and AML to ensure it's not trading with bad actors or rogue nations, Griffin says

Background: More recently, Citadel secured a $1.15 billion minority investment from Sequoia — one of the more active investors in the web3 space — and crypto-focused VC firm Paradigm.

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