Blythe Masters, former executive at JPMorgan and one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, reportedly turned down an offer to head Barclays’ troubled investment bank to instead pursue her blockchain ambitions.
Masters, nicknamed the “Queen of Commodities”, held several leading positions at America’s largest bank by market capitalization. She turned the bank’s commodities unit into the world’s biggest and served as CFO of its investment bank. She also invented credit default swaps, which were designed to protect against bad loans but caused catastrophic damage during the financial crisis.
An unnamed source told Reuters that Barclays’ CEO Jes Staley approached his former JPMorgan colleague to head the bank’s investment division.
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Masters declined in favor of leading her startup Digital Asset Holdings, which aims to revolutionize the way securities are settled using blockchain technology. Masters was hired as the startup’s CEO earlier this year, and is reportedly looking to raise $25 million for it with help from her Wall Street peers.
“I can’t think of a better person than Jes Staley, nor a more venerable institution than Barclays, but I am in mid-flight at Digital Asset and fully committed to what we are doing,” Masters reportedly said.
Barclays’ investment bank is going through turbulent times. It is in the process of being scaled down, and its current boss, Tom King, reportedly threatened to quit amid a fight with former CEO Antony Jenkins over the division’s future. Chairman John McFarlane reportedly persuaded King to stay and fired Jenkins.
Barclays has reportedly shifted strategy several times in recent years, is cutting 7,000 jobs and has been slapped with heavy fines for its involvement in the Libor and forex rate rigging scandals.