Marco Santori, aka the “Dean of Blockchain Lawyers,” has joined San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken as chief legal officer.
Santori, who hails from the world of Big Law and most recently served as president and top lawyer for crypto firm Blockchain.com, succeeds Mary Beth Buchanan. She joined Bitstamp as chief lawyer in February.
Kraken, which trumpets itself as “one of the largest and oldest Bitcoin exchanges in the world” and is owned by Payward Inc., has turned to Santori to further the firm’s growth by leveraging his experience with “key industry players” in the legal, regulatory and investment worlds.
“Internally, I aim to create an environment of ability and success for all things legal—from product innovation to business partnerships and corporate governance. Kraken’s impeccable team has built a rocket ship. I hope to support them on the journey skyward,” Santori said in a Q&A posted Monday on Kraken’s blog page.
Santori, who was not immediately available for an interview, also noted in the blog post that the crypto industry’s primary regulatory challenge is “that the industry itself hasn’t yet come to agreement” about its value proposition.
“Digital gold? Digital dollar? Digital oil? Metaphors abound, and no single industry voice has emerged to communicate the holistic vision to regulators. Good regulatory engagement today means balancing these messages with fairness and credibility,” he added.
Santori first became interested in cryptocurrency in 2012, when he ordered a bitcoin miner—that was never delivered—and began researching how bitcoin worked.
“After a few months I had joined the Bitcoin Foundation and was advising my first clients on crypto regulation. What started as a get-rich-quick lark turned out to be a career-making decision,” he stated.
At the time, Santori was working for a midsize firm in New York. In 2014, he entered Big Law as a fintech-focused partner for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and, two years later, joined Cooley, also as a partner. He left private practice in 2018, when he took the reins of Blockchain.com’s legal department.