FireBlocks CEO Pours Cold Water on Libra Excitement

FireBlocks' CEO was quick to dampen enthusiasm for libra.

AccessTimeIconMay 12, 2020 at 2:36 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:40 a.m. UTC

Enthusiasm for libra, the cryptocurrency backed by Facebook, swirled at Consensus: Distributed Tuesday morning, but Michael Shaulov, CEO and co-founder of crypto transaction platform FireBlocks, was happy to damp it down.

Host Ran Goldi, CEO of liquidity provider First – which has the motto "We believe in Libra" on its website – re-emphasized his position very early on: "I will not be surprised if we see other stablecoins launch on Libra," he said within the show's first 15 minutes.

When Goldi wheeled out Shaulov, he pointed out FireBlocks had already facilitated more than $7 billion worth of trades every month. "I know that by looking at your website, I saw Genesis [Genesis Trading, CoinDesk's sister company] and I saw other large liquidity providers, and I'm sure they're going to be a part of the Libra ecosystem," he effused.

Goldi then asked his first question, a "spicy" one as he called it, about why FireBlocks hadn't decided to join the Libra Association, even though its main rival, custodial provider Anchorage, is a founding member.

Shaulov half-smiled. The room he was in wasn't very well lit, which gave him a menacing presence. "That's actually a very good question," he said, before quickly refuting the idea FireBlocks and Anchorage were, in any sense, competitors.

Then Shaulov turned to the main point: "We were sort of considering whether we should be part of the [Libra] Association or not, and I think that, in time, we sort of realized that actually it's not clear that being part of the Association would really help us."

Shaulov didn't elaborate and a stony silence filled the channel. Eight companies, including Mastercard, Vodafone and Visa, have bailed on the Libra Association since its inception not more than a year ago.

Maybe aware he had single-handedly killed the pro-libra atmosphere, Shaulove quickly added: "If we were part of the Association, I wouldn't be on this panel."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Goldi sniffed.

Goldi might have hoped Shaulov would have shared his enthusiasm. Earlier in the chat, CoinGecko co-founder TM Lee had criticized Facebook and the Libra Association for spooking regulators with its original white paper. "Obviously we've done many mistakes," Goldi conceded.

Shaulov argued stablecoins, more broadly, had exciting potential, but when Goldi asked what were some of the key features missing from libra, Shaulov didn't need to pause for thought. Just going live, Shaulov said, is the most important feature to cross from the list.

You can watch the entire Libra session from Consensus: Distributed below.


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