Grayscale's CEO details hiring plans, the long-term goal of a bitcoin ETF

Episode 8 of Season 3 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block’s Frank Chaparro and Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein

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Michael Sonnenshein took the reigns of cryptocurrency asset manager Grayscale Investments earlier this year. 

At the helm of the more than $30 billion investment firm, Sonnenshein is charting a course for a broad expansion of the business, which is best known for its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.

"We brought in $5.7 billion last year," Sonnenshein said. "We are launching new products, we are investing in technology, we're building out the various teams, it's really about continuing to stay ahead of the growth we are experiencing at really an unprecedented rate."

New inflows into the firm helped push Grayscale's assets under management (AUM) to new highs, while also lining its pockets with fee-based revenue. Estimates by The Block Research suggest Grayscale has brought in more than $109 million year-to-date. 

In addition to new hires, the firm has a plan for upgrading its GBTC product to an exchange-traded fund should the regulators ultimately approve such a product. 

"We spent the better part of 2017 in SEC registration for Grayscale Bitcoin Trust," Sonnenshein told The Block. "And we made a lot of progress with the commission and ultimately realized the regulatory environment wasn't ready for a bitcoin ETF and we pulled out of that process."

He added:

"But we hope in the future, like we were planning to in 2017, to register and uplift GBTC onto a national securities exchange as a bonafide ETF."

Still, competition is mounting, with BlockFi and Osprey recently rolling out new funds. There's also Bitwise, which has seen its assets under management climb towards $1 billion in recent months. 

In this episode of The Scoop, Sonnenshein breaks down its hiring goals for 2021 as well as the following:

  • What a bitcoin ETF approval means for Grayscale's GBTC
  • Why mounting competition will result in fees "absolutely" coming down
  • Why he wants to convince a nation-state to buy GBTC
  • The firm's #DropGold campaign and plans for future marketing campaigns
  • The technology investments Grayscale is making in its platform to make the investing process more seamless

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