NY Fed Staffer Jumps Into DeFi as Euler COO

A permissionless lending protocol has brought on a former Federal Reserve employee in a key position.

AccessTimeIconMar 16, 2022 at 2:25 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 7:17 p.m. UTC

DeFi’s latest headline hire comes from an unusual source: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

On Wednesday, permissionless crypto lending protocol Euler Finance announced the appointment of Brandon Neal as chief operating officer.

Neal spent 10 years at the New York Fed in a variety of roles, including most recently with the Markets Trading Desk, or what Neal called “the tip of the spear in implementing monetary policy” in an interview with CoinDesk.

The career transition was facilitated in part by Dave White, a protocol design specialist at crypto venture giant Paradigm and a friend of Neal’s who turned him on to novel concepts in decentralized finance – such as flash loans and automated market makers – over lunch.

Afterwards, Neal began more deeply researching the space and eventually met the team at Euler, where he was impressed with the group's deliberate and iterative approach designed to mitigate the risks associated with permissionless finance.

“Of all the teams I spoke with I was excited most about the team at Euler – having a super, super robust risk management system, carefully designed and built and thoughtfully implemented, is paramount,” said Neal.

In December, Euler founder Michael Bentley told CoinDesk that the protocol’s growth would be a process and not an event. The platform currently accounts for $52 million in total value locked (TVL), per DefiLlama.

“From our perspective, we’re really focused on managing risk – I don’t want to target some total value locked number we can market to people,” Bentley said.

‘Bloated’ industry

Neal told CoinDesk that he believes decentralized finance (DeFi) has the potential to significantly shake up the finance world.

“If we zoom out and look at what finance is supposed to do, it was always meant to be the oil that greases the wheels of real industry. It was never meant to become a wheel unto itself that employs an excessive number of people and becomes rent-seeking, to use an economics term. But it’s become that – the financial industry is bloated, it’s not innovative, and there’s valid arguments that it’s stuck,” he said.

He admitted that a “handful” of his former colleagues think he’s crazy for the career shift, but many of them are coming around to the promise of the DeFi sector, particularly as new use cases develop.

“Everybody is rightfully skeptical. People who work at the Fed are skeptics by nature – it’s evidence-based, and you look at outcomes,” said Neal, adding:

“There are elements of hype in crypto that can often drown out the real, deep innovation happening by serious, thoughtful teams. Those people are the loudest in the room sometimes, and the thoughtful builders who are meticulously and carefully innovating, they’re just really quiet.”


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Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.

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