Airbnb Political Vet Chris Lehane Joins Crypto Venture Fund

Chris Lehane, senior Airbnb executive and former Clinton administration official, recount Axios Pro Fintech offers he plans to join the management team of a crypto venture capital fund next month.

Why is this important: Lehane’s move is a sign of the crypto world’s growing appeal to tech pioneers who have already amassed power and wealth but still want to scratch the “disruption” itch.

  • Lehane, 54, has yet to reveal her new employer. But he tells us it’s a Silicon Valley-based global fund. He will stay in the Bay Area.
  • The fund focuses on early-stage and growth-stage startups across all layers of web3, he says.

Between the lines: Lehane, Airbnb’s senior vice president of policy and communications, has worked with city and state governments around the world to create a regulatory framework for online accommodation markets.

Now he plans to help legitimize and onboard crypto products and Web3 startups, and help prove that massive growth is possible even with increasing scrutiny and regulation.

  • “Many of the same challenges that drew me to Airbnb in 2015 drew me to web3,” Lehane tells us.
  • He says this includes “the system change needed to support regulations that will allow decentralized business models that more evenly distribute the economy to thrive, and the integration of services and products.”

Rollback: During Lehane’s run at Airbnb, the company became a noun and a verb, and went public during what was initially seen as the existential threat of the pandemic.

  • Lehane, a Harvard law graduate, was a White House official for President Bill Clinton and later served as press secretary for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. Lehane will remain a strategic advisor to Airbnb.

The big picture: This is a critical time for policy-making in the crypto world. In the United States, regulators and Congress are wrestling with defining the rules governing stablecoins, crypto derivatives, and all things Web3. Governments around the world face the same challenge.

  • In November, the President’s Task Force on Financial Markets (a panel headed by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen), along with the FDIC and OCC, issued a stablecoins report which recommended that Congress pass legislation to regulate stablecoin issuers, such as banks.
  • Meanwhile, earlier this month the Federal Reserve published a report on the pros and cons of developing its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) – but did not come to any firm conclusions.

Without of all the concrete rules coming from governments or policy makers around the world, venture capitalists and crypto companies are suggesting their own sets of rules for this new decentralized internet.

  • Andreessen Horowitz posted a list of 10 principles to regulate web3 this month. But it’s not the only interested party to suggest a new policy framework: Coinbase, FTXand Binance all have released theirs.

The bottom line: In her new role, Lehane will work with governments to turn these policy proposals into concrete laws. And in doing so, it will hopefully help clear up some of the regulatory uncertainty that has plagued the crypto industry to date.

This story first appeared in the Axios Pro Fintech Deals newsletter. Subscribe to AxiosPro.com.

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