Early August brought news that Alerian’s Dave LaValle had joined Grayscale Investments, arguably the world’s largest digital currency asset manager with USD25 billion in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, as Global Head of ETFs.
His appointment comes as the US still awaits the SEC ruling on launching a digital asset ETF, despite over a dozen applications. Recently, US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler signalled that regulators may be more open to approving a bitcoin ETF if it was based around futures rather than the cryptocurrency itself, but no firm advance has yet been made.
Grayscale writes that LaValle’s is a newly created position and is a direct extension of the firm’s commitment to transparency, responsible growth, and converting its family of products into ETFs. The firm has also launched Grayscale Advisors, an RIA designed to build upon the existing product line-up to ensure that investors have a secure, transparent, and familiar way to deploy capital.
LaValle says that he has spent the last 17 years marking the progress more generally of the ETF ecosystem, but specifically digital assets have interested him for the last 10 years. “It was a conversation about if a bitcoin ETF could come to market but now it’s a conversation about when,” he says. “It’s very exciting for the industry.”
Grayscale is poised to convert its bitcoin trust into an ETF. “Despite there not being a bitcoin ETF in the market, there is certainly no shortage of demand for cryptocurrencies and we are in a unique position with a product in the market and trading,” he says.
“We don’t have any clarity or transparency into the regulators’ timeframe but what is exciting for us is our ability to focus on our organisation which is well positioned and to execute our strategy on building an ETF business holistically. A bitcoin ETF is one of our goals and desires but not the only thing we are focused on.”
Other initiatives include the new RIA, and a partnership with Bank of New York as custody bank for the firm. “We want to be nimble in growing our ETF franchise. Our goal is to be well-positioned to bring products to market,” LaValle says.
On a fairly blank canvas, Grayscale is working to position itself as an asset manager for the next generation, LaValle says. “We believe that offering exposures to cryptocurrencies is an aspect of that, but the way we envision marketing and supporting the products are all aspects of how we think we will be able to do things differently going forward.”
Going forward, Grayscale will be looking at products in a range of wrappers and different asset classes, LaValle says.
“We certainly have a focus on digital assets but it doesn’t prohibit us from exploring other products that are equity based with a next generation feel to them.”