Timothy Plakas, who held the role of over-the-counter (OTC) trading head at Coinbase, has left the firm after less than a year in the position. The former Citi banker has joined Galaxy Digital LP, the crypto-focused merchant bank founded by Mike Novogratz.
Plakas, who served at wealth management business of Merrill Lynch and later as head of institutional equities at Citi during his 8-year career on Wall Street, will be involved in Galaxy’s trading business which covers a basket of digital assets and also runs an OTC sales desk to facilitate trades on behalf of institutional investors.
Coinbase is losing Plakas at a critical time when some of its top executives already parted ways with the US largest cryptocurrency exchange. There haven’t been any comments from the crypto exchange itself, but the timing is pivotal for the San Francisco startup which works hard to bring in top institutional investors.
The widely followed startup, valued at $8 billion, rolled out its crypto over-the-counter trading desk in 2018, initially testing interest in the product from professional traders.
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Plakas’s departure also comes on the heels of Coinbase’s director of institutional sales, Christine Sandler, leaving the San Francisco startup to join Fidelity Investments. Adam White, the fifth employee of Coinbase, joining the firm in 2013, also departed in October and instead landed at ICE-backed cryptocurrency exchange, Bakkt.
Galaxy Digital struggles with losses
Coinbase’s policy officer, Michael Lempres, also resigned in October from his newly-created role and parted ways with the company after two years. Lempres saw his responsibilities dwindle after Coinbase brought in former chief compliance officer of a BNY Mellon subsidiary, Jeff Horowitz.
Meanwhile, Galaxy Digital itself took a hit in 2018 as bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies had struggled. In its latest financial disclosure, the New York-based firm reported a net loss of $273 million during the 12 months through December 2018. This figure includes unrealized losses on crypto holdings which were caused by weak trading volumes and losing trades on Ether, Bitcoin, and XRP.
Michael Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs macro trader, launched the company in November 2017 and contributed $300 million of his own assets just a month before bitcoin peaked near $20,000. He also worked previously as CIO of Fortress Investment Group’s macro fund.