Laser Digital: the Nomura spinout that's the new place to work in crypto
If you're looking to join the exciting world of crypto but don't want to float too far from the relative security of an investment bank, Nomura's digital asset business could be the place for you.
The Japanese bank announced the formation of Swiss-based Laser Digital Holdings in September last year. Run by veteran rates traders Jezri Mohideen and Steve Ashley, last November it promised to hire across "quant, electronic-trading platform builds and rigorous risk management" and offices in Switzerland, Dubai and London.
The subsidiary has three "core areas": VC, secondary trading and investor products. The VC arm today announced an investment in Infinity, a Hong Kong-based decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol for institutional lending and borrowing founded by ex-Morgan Stanley head of structuring Kevin Lepsoe.
The Infinity investment was orchestrated by head Laser's head of ventures, Oliver Dang. He too is hiring - Laser wants a London based investment principle with VC or private equity experience to help build the digital assets and blockchain pipeline.
Laser's VC platform was launched first, but speaking earlier this month, Mohideen said Laser is also on track to launch an institutional trading platform that it's built from scratch by the end of the first quarter, pending regulatory approvals. By the end of Q1, Mohideen said Laser will have 70 people, although its reined in its aspiration for 100 people by the end of this year.
Laser's founding employees came from Nomura. Dang, for example, was latterly head of the wholesale digital office in Hong Kong. Mohideen was Nomura's chief digital officer, CFO Craig Howell was was a Nomura MD for a decade and head of asset management Sebastien Guglietta held a peculiar position as Nomura's chief science officer.
There are signs, however, that hiring is now opening up externally - although a background at Nomura can still be a shortcut to success at Laser. For example, Toshinori Ishibashi joined in February as an investment principal, having only been at the bank for around a year.
External hires are being drawn from the crypto industry. PhD quant researcher Gabriel Borragiero for example joined in December from Bluecrest Capital having also been at crypto trading firm B2C2.
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