NEAR Foundation Appoints Ex-Circle Exec Marieke Flament as CEO

The a16z-backed blockchain recently announced an $800 million grants program in a bid to attract more builders.

Dec 16, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 16, 2021 at 4:16 p.m. UTC

Former Circle executive Marieke Flament is taking over as CEO of the NEAR Foundation, a Swiss-based non-profit that oversees the governance and development of its namesake blockchain.

Flament, who was Circle’s managing director for Europe, is a French-born computer engineer who has also worked at luxury giant LVMH, Boston Consulting Group, Expedia’s Hotels.com and most recently banking app Mettle. She is credited with helping Circle add 2 million users over a two-year period, and had a hand in the launch of the popular USDC stablecoin.

She takes over the CEO role from Erik Trautman, who will continue as board adviser, according to NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin.

NEAR, which closed a $21 million token sale in May 2020 from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), recently announced an $800 million grants program for building on the platform.

Data site DeFi Llama ranks NEAR in 37th place in terms of total value locked (TVL), a key metric that measures the dollar value of crypto assets committed to a blockchain’s various decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. NEAR’s $99.6 million in TVL is just above fellow proof-of-stake upstart Algorand’s $89.2 million, though both are extremely distant from Ethereum’s market-leading $164 billion.

Flament told CoinDesk the distribution of funds and grants across the NEAR ecosystem constituted a unique opportunity to boost the network’s DeFi usage.

“It’s so important to think about how to create a diverse and inclusive open web, or Web 3, as it’s called,” Flament said. “It feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually participate and shape that direction.”

NEAR also brings with it scalability, speed and simplicity, said Flament. “From a technology perspective, NEAR has done almost everything that Ethereum 2.0 said it was going to do.”

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Ian Allison is a senior reporter at CoinDesk.