Crypto startup MoonPay hires Time chairman to lead its corporate business

Keith Grossman, President of Time

TIMEPieces Artist Jeremy Cowart

Time President Keith Grossman is leaving the legacy publisher to take on a new role as company president at crypto trading platform MoonPay, effective Dec. 31.

Grossman joined Time in 2019, a year after Meredith Corporation sold the flagship magazine brand to Selling power founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne for $190 million.

During his tenure at Time, Grossman became a strong advocate of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, pioneering the NFT business of media company, TIMEPieces, and generating over $10 million in profits along the way.

“I spent the last year operationalizing it,” Grossman told CNBC in an exclusive interview. “I think the transition will be scary in a way, because it’s something new and different, but at the same time stable in another way because we have always said that TIMEPieces is a community led by stewards, not founders.”

Prior to his more than three years at Time, Grossman had held senior positions at major publishers, including Bloomberg and Condé Nast-owned Wired.

Maya Draisin, Time Brand Director, will lead TIMEPieces. Grossman began stepping down as chairman in January to focus on the publisher’s NFT business when Ian Orefice was named president and chief operating officer, according to a Time spokesperson.

Earlier this month, Time CEO Edward Felsenthal announcement he was leaving that position, although he would retain his position as editor and assume the additional role of executive chairman. Jessica Sibley, who was most recently chief operating officer at Forbes, is now CEO of Time.

Facing the fallout from FTX

MoonPay’s pitch to investors is that it provides a “gateway” to digital assets. For now, this includes bitcoin, ether, and other digital tokens like NFTs. But the collapse of FTX and its continued industry-wide ripple effect, coupled with this year’s market volatility and risky investor environment, has not been good for crypto trading.

“I think it’s important to separate a bad actor from an industry,” Grossman said of the FTX spinoff. “If you look at the energy industry, you had Enron; if you look at the healthcare industry, you had Theranos; if you look at the financial industry, you had Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, there is no so no surprise that the crypto industry has its bad actors too,” he said. “But some of the positives that will come out of that will likely be responsible regulation that will bring clarity to big companies wanting to get into the space,” he said.

MoonPay co-founder and CEO Ivan Soto-Wright said his company had no significant exposure to FTX, although he added that it was an inflection point for the market. industry having an impact on all players.

Before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid allegations of misuse of client assets, FTX offered to trade on its exchange by storing digital assets in so-called custodial wallets, which allowed it to act as an intermediary holding the customer funds. Soto-Wright says MoonPay’s platform is non-custodial and does not hold customer funds as part of its business model. But he added that it comes with its own set of challenges.

“We’re starting to see some really big moves around MPC (multi-party computing) technology to make this more secure,” Soto-Wright said. “But at the end of the day, if you’re a player in the space that’s going to hold customer funds, you should be subject to regulation.”

MPC technology has become essential for securing digital assets such as crypto because it ensures that no one has access to an individual’s data by dividing it into multiple pieces.

Crypto’s Crisis of Confidence

In the 12 months since bitcoins surpassed $68 trillion, the crypto industry, once valued at around $3 trillion, plummeted around $900 billion.

NFT sales have fallen in parallel, declining every month since April, according to data from CryptoSlam. While the downturn has signaled to many that NFTs are a passing fad, Grossman is among a small cohort of evangelists who remain optimistic about what has been dubbed “Web3” – a hypothetical future version of the Internet based on blockchain technology.

“It’s incredibly timely to bring Keith on board,” Soto-Wright said. “Every week you hear about another big brand announcing that they are dipping their toes into Web3 and trying to implement a strategy.”

As MoonPay researched the reasons behind the brand’s adoption of the concept and early use cases, “Keith’s name often came up around what he was able to accomplish with TIMEPieces,” Soto-Wright said. .

“He was able to provide a better experience for some of the Time brand’s most loyal customers and fans,” Soto-Wright added. “As we start talking to more and more big brands, they want to see how it actually works… while we have the infrastructure to make it happen, there is still an element of strategy and I think Keith will unlock a lot of these conversations as we enter the new year.”

Grossman will report directly to Soto-Wright.

Those who still buy NFTs do so because their ability to prove ownership of virtual items, vis-à-vis the blockchain-powered digital ledger, will ultimately gain in value as decentralized technology is adopted. will develop.

Corporate adoption has fueled this belief, with companies such as Nike, McDonald’s, Adidas and Starbucks launch their own NFT collections. Overall, these initiatives have been rolled out through loyalty programs that struggle to offset rising customer acquisition costs due to rising interest rates and record inflation.

In June, MoonPay in partnership with Universal Images, Fox Company and Snoop Dogg’s Death Row Records, among other brands, to launch HyperMint – a platform that allows companies and legacy brands like Universal, Fox or even Time to mint hundreds of millions of NFTs daily.

Moon Pay ranked #44 on this year CNBC 50 Disruptor list, and its services are used by more than 10 million customers in 160 countries.

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