A16z Elevates Former US CFTC Commissioner Quintenz to Policy Chief

Brian Quintenz, a former commissioner with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission who left the agency last year, is amplifying his role at crypto venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) from advising to taking over as its head of policy, the company said on Tuesday.

Quintenz had been a reliable supporter of the cryptocurrency industry before exiting the CFTC, which may take a leading role in overseeing the U.S. trading of some digital assets. Now he’ll be facing his old agency directly as part of his job seeking to steer crypto policy with U.S. regulators and lawmakers.

“We’re believers in transparent, bipartisan, tailored policymaking that provides clear rules of the road, that embraces the technology and respects consumers’ needs,” Quintenz said in an interview. “The events of this year have really crystalised the need for legislation,” he said, and much of the current legislation would position his former agency at the forefront of digital assets oversight.

Quintenz, who observed a one year cooling-off period in which he couldn’t seek to directly influence policy after leaving the CFTC, will now “educate policymakers” on the advantages of crypto innovations. He said he’s also willing to use his “very meaningful personal and professional relationships” at the CFTC for the same purpose.

The former regulator said he understands some policymakers will be suspicious of digital assets in light of the industry’s dramatic 2022.

“I think it’s perfectly appropriate to be focused on customer protections given what we’ve seen happening in the marketplace,” he said.

His employer has been among the biggest crypto contributors to U.S. political candidates, including as one of the the top donors to industry political action committee GMI PAC Inc.

“Ensuring that advocates keep their roles in Congress is important in this space,” Quintenz said, though it’s “yet to be determined” how involved the company will get in the next election cycle, which will include the 2024 presidential race.

The company’s previous policy head was Tomicah Tillemann, the former U.S. State Department official who left a16z for a similar policy role at Haun Ventures. Quintenz has worked as an adviser to Crypto.com and had previously taken a smaller scale role to advise a16z.

“This firm is a believer in the long-term benefits of the technology,” Quintenz said of a16z, which occupies a rare position as a major crypto investor that says it has no exposure to the disastrous crypto giant FTX. Still, a16z has reportedly suffered major losses in its crypto flagship fund this year and has slowed down the pace of its investments.

“Regulators need to do a better job of providing clarity to the space so that entrepreneurs and innovators and technologists have clear rules that they can follow,” Quintenz said. “Right now those rules are not clear.”