Bitcoin Developer Mike Hearn and Amex VP Michael Barrett Join Circle Team

Pete Rizzo
Jan 16, 2014 at 16:00 UTC
Updated Nov 26, 2014 at 12:31 UTC

Michael Barrett, vice president of security at American Express; and Mike Hearn, a lead bitcoin software developer, have officially joined the advisory board of digital currency company Circle Internet Financial.

Barrett and Hearn are the first appointments to the Boston-based company’s advisory board.

“We’re gearing up for having our products and services in the market, and having the additional leadership necessary to be successful is really helpful,” Circle founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire told CoinDesk in an interview. “My philosophy is to surround myself and surround my leadership team with the best and brightest within certain disciplines.”

Circle said Barrett will assist the company as it develops information security best practices, but was less clear in the release about Hearn and his future involvement in the project. Notably, it did cite Hearn’s work on the use of bitcoin for managing contracts and securitized assets.

Allaire declined to specify whether such mentions were indicative of specific future company plans, but did speak more broadly about how Hearn will provide this type of big-picture thinking to Circle.

“Hearing Mike think about and talk about some of these ideas was really inspiring,” Allaire said. “We like that thinking. We’re big fans of seeing the bitcoin software start to be applied in other use cases, and having a thought leader around those issues sharing ideas with us is great.”

Allaire went on to compare Hearn to a “strategic consultant” that will help Circle think about how it can expand its businesses in different areas. Furthermore, Hearn told to CoinDesk that his role on the board will be to help the company brainstorm new ideas, share his opinions and offer advice.

The announcement also confirmed December rumors that M. Michele Burns, a former Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Orbitz and Walmart Stores board member, has joined Circle’s board of directors. Allaire cited timing as the reason for the delay, saying that the holidays played a factor, as did the company’s desire to include Hearn and Barrett in this news.

Still, Allaire was enthusiastic about the Burns announcement.

“As a company that aspires to build a global consumer-facing financial services company… it helps to have someone like [M.] Michelle Burns to help us think about what does a financial operation of a global consumer-facing financial company need to look like,” Allaire said.

Allaire went on to suggest that Burns could help the company approach customer acquisition, its balance sheet and audit controls with more precision. He noted Circle is currently looking to expand its advisory board, suggesting more names could be added to the body in the future.

Circle received the second most VC funding of any bitcoin startup in 2013, trailing only Coinbase with $9 million in investment from Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners.

The startup, which launched in October, aims to drive mainstream bitcoin and digital currency adoption through consumer- and merchant-facing payment services. To learn more about Circle and its vision for bitcoin payments, read our most recent interview with Allaire here.

Boardroom image via Shutterstock.

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