The strange disappearance of former US CEO Binance

Charlie Taylor


What happened to Catherine Coley? The whereabouts of the former CEO of Binance US, a separate unit of the world's largest brokerage set up to operate in the United States, is a mystery surrounding the world of cryptocurrencies. Until April of this year, Coley was active on social media and a constant presence on the market's social circuit. She was popular with others in the industry—“call me Coley,” she told those who knew her—and always responded quickly to event invitations and questions from members of the media. Everything changed when she was abruptly replaced at Binance US in April. Since then, Coley has effectively disappeared. No one reported seeing her in San Francisco, where she worked, and her Twitter account, once animated, has been silent since April 19th. A former colleague told Decrypt that Coley didn't recognize recent birthday greetings from friends. Perhaps strangest of all, Coley's LinkedIn and Twitter accounts still describe her as "CEO of Binance US." All of this led the market to ask whether she was even alive.

Coley communicated through intermediaries

The answer to that question is yes, as two people tell Decrypt about having communicated with her recently. This includes the exchange of text messages and communications with Binance that took place through an intermediary. Although his current whereabouts are unknown, few doubt that his disappearance from the public sphere is a direct result of his expulsion from Binance US. The company is a subsidiary of Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency broker, whose CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao hired Coley to run US operations in July 2019. Binance appears to have approved of Coley's performance, celebrating his appearance on the Fortune 40 Under 40 list on their official Instagram account last year. But on April 20, the Wall Street Journal reported that Binance had hired Brian Brooks, a former top lawyer for Coinbase and acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), to be its new CEO. The change made strategic sense for the company. Coley has an impressive track record, with a five-year term as a broker at Morgan Stanley and experience at Ripple, but she has had no influence in Washington — a place where Binance is struggling to gain traction as regulators take a deep breath of his flexible approach to US security safeguards. consumer. A 2020 Forbes complaint reported how Binance uses elaborate fronts to mislead US regulators; Binance responded by suing Forbes. Brooks, on the other hand, had just finished a term at the head of the agency that oversees the country's banks and had years of experience dealing with regulators. Binance handled the hiring of Brooks awkwardly. In the normal course of business, a company would treat the replacement of a CEO, even one who messed things up (which Coley didn't), with a flurry of press releases thanking them for their services and, in many cases, naming them a Comfortable new role with an impressive title. Binance, CZ and Brooks said absolutely nothing about Coley. Nor have they since. Binance declined to comment on the case. Coley did not respond to two direct messages sent to an account she previously responded to.

"They left the stage without even a mention"

The unceremonious expulsion reflected poorly on Binance, not least because Coley was one of a small handful of women who occupied a senior position in a male-dominated industry. “They left the stage without even a mention, and considering how hard she worked, I found it shameful and unpleasant,” says Meltem Demirors, an executive at Coinshares and a vocal figure in the world of cryptocurrencies. So what really happened between Binance and Coley? Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said CZ had hoped Coley would remain at Binance after Brooks was hired, but that she no longer wanted to stay, and that Brooks, who has a reputation for stubbornness, did little to encourage her to stay. Now Coley and Binance are likely in litigation over his expulsion, a situation that normally forces participants to remain silent. In this case, Coley may also be using her silence as leverage for a possible deal in which she agrees not to belittle her former employer. Whatever the explanation for their current disappearing act, the result is that the cryptocurrency world has lost a rising executive star — for now. *Translated and republished with permission from Decrypt.co

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