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Former Crypto-Friendly Regulator Quintenz Joins VC Firm A16z

Brian Quintenz stepped down from the CFTC at the end of August.

Sep 9, 2021 at 12:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 10, 2021 at 3:47 p.m. UTC

Former crypto-friendly commodities regulator Brian Quintenz has joined venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) as a part-time adviser.

Announced Thursday, Quintenz becomes the latest high-profile addition to the firm, which has backed numerous projects in the tech and crypto industries. The prolific VC firm raised over $2 billion for its Crypto Fund III earlier this summer.

Quintenz said he was “thrilled” to join the company, saying the firm “has the acumen and pioneering vision” to build partnerships and drive a crypto revolution.

“The regulatory response to crypto innovation will be critical in whether an openly accessible, fully transparent, and decentralized value-creating financial ecosystem can be truly achieved. I’m excited to engage with both entrepreneurs and regulators to ensure that full potential can become a reality,” he said.

Quintenz, who stepped down from his role as one of the top officials at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) at the end of August, has long been a proponent of the crypto industry, suggesting that participants create self-regulatory organizations and sponsoring the agency’s Technology Advisory Committee during his tenure.

The regulator’s term officially expired in mid-2020, but government rules allowed him to stay on through the end of 2021.

Staffing up

A16z, which operates a number of dedicated crypto venture funds, has been rapidly expanding its team in recent months, particularly its crypto division. The firm has drawn from both the crypto industry as well as more traditional industries and government.

Quintenz joins the firm as the U.S. government ramps up its scrutiny of the still-growing crypto industry. The CFTC’s securities-focused counterpart, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has recently indicated a renewed focus on regulating or bringing enforcement actions against newer sectors of the industry such as decentralized finance (DeFi).

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has said that U.S. regulators need more “plenary authority” to oversee trading, lending and DeFi platforms, citing a need for stronger investor protections.

Gensler has hinted that, in his view, all crypto trading platforms may need to fall under the SEC’s jurisdiction. Recent actions against Coinbase, of which a16z is a major backer, would seem to reflect that.

At present, there is no single federal regulator for spot crypto trading markets.

Quintenz has pushed back, tweeting that the SEC’s authority does not include commodities or commodity trading platforms, including crypto assets.

UPDATE (Sept. 9, 2021, 13:35 UTC): Updated with a statement from Brian Quintenz.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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