Goldman Sachs Director to Join Board of Bitcoin Startup Circle

Jon Southurst
Dec 28, 2013 at 12:09 UTC
Updated Mar 20, 2014 at 11:27 UTC

Goldman Sachs board member M. Michele Burns is joining the board of new bitcoin payment processor Circle Internet Financial, becoming the latest representative from the worlds of big finance and investing to show an interest in digital currency.

The move represents a possible greater acceptance of bitcoin in the US in the financial mainstream, at a time when other large countries are attempting to block or caution against its use.

Burns is also a Director at Cisco Systems Inc., and previously sat on the board at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Her involvement in the finance industry goes back to 1981, and she has also been Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan, and Chairman and CEO of consultancy firm Mercer.

She has also supported Democratic politicians Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, sits on the Boards of Trustees at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and is a Strategic Advisor at the Stanford Center on Longevity.

Circle has been a favorite with big investors since its launch last October, making headlines with the largest ever Series A investment in a bitcoin company of $9m from well-known tech investors such as Jim Breyer, Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners.

Part of the appeal is Circle’s CEO Jeremy Allaire, previously CEO of online video platform Brightcove and Allaire Corporation, creator of the ColdFusion development language before its acquisition by Macromedia in 2001.

He has described bitcoin as “a totally transformational technology” that could be as significant as email or Skype. Circle aims to be a business and regulator-friendly payment processor similar to BitPay and Coinbase, but has not fully unveiled its services as yet.

Allaire also fronted the US Senate Committee hearings on bitcoin in November, saying bitcoin had to live with the realities of a regulatory environment, but also suggesting the regulatory burden on financial services was too high when compared to other startups in the tech sector.