Jai Ramaswamy

As we outlined in our policy agenda, we’re radically optimistic about the potential of web3 and equally mindful that realizing that potential will depend in part on thoughtful regulation. We believe regulation has an important place where products and services touch consumers, but also believe it’s critical for it to be informed and constructive. 

When we started to think about who would be the right person to lead our regulatory efforts — both inside the crypto funds and externally with our portfolio and regulators themselves — the first person that came to mind was Jai.

Jai and I originally overlapped at the Justice Department where he served for over a decade in a variety of roles: as white collar crime prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, at headquarters in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property division, and later as Chief of the Money Laundering Section — a role in which he oversaw the prosecutions of BNP Paribas and HSBC. We crossed paths years later at a crypto conference when Jai was working at a major financial institution running their compliance and regulatory efforts (post government he’d gone to become the Global Head of AML Compliance at Bank of America and then went on to lead Enterprise Risk Management at Capital One). What I enjoyed so much about my conversations with Jai was that he understood the real challenges related to decentralized technologies but also the exciting possibilities they could unlock. He also understood better than anyone that the old ways of compliance and regulation were increasingly falling short of their objectives and that decentralized systems could actually improve the status quo. And he voted with his feet by leaving the traditional financial system. 

As Jai was considering different options in the tech world, I introduced him to Celo, a mobile-first platform that makes financial dApps and crypto payments accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. After engaging with the team, learning more about their technology, and being inspired by their vision, Jai took on a role heading up Celo’s risk and compliance function, a role he held for the last couple years.   

In that time, Jai has emerged as a thought leader on crypto regulatory issues. Last year, when the Treasury Department was rumored to be considering various regulations to curb the use of so-called unhosted wallets (rumors that eventually proved true through a proposed midnight rulemaking), he authored an excellent and widely read piece explaining why attempts to restrict the use of unhosted wallets would actually hinder rather than support efforts to fight illicit financial activity.

His nuanced perspective, deep expertise, and diverse experiences are exactly what crypto needs to help navigate the web3 regulatory environment. 

I am delighted to announce that he will join the a16z crypto team as the Chief Regulatory Officer where he will continue to work with portfolio projects like Celo, which I’m thrilled has added Jai to the board of directors of the Celo Foundation.

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