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A Bitcoin Prosecutor-Turned-Crypto VC on Facebook’s Libra: The Broadsheet

June 20, 2019, 12:19 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Hope Hicks testifies without saying much, Google employees show up at Alphabet’s shareholder meeting, and a prosecutor-turned-VC MP considers Facebook’s new currency. Have a terrific Thursday.

Considering a new cryptocurrency. When Kathryn Haun, the Justice Department's one-time go-to prosecutor for Bitcoin related-felonies, joined VC firm Andreessen Horowitz to lead its cryptocurrency fund, Fortune's Robert Hackett deemed the move a "watershed moment," with Haun's legal chops lending legitimacy to the nascent space.

At Fortune's inaugural Brainstorm Finance summit in Montauk, N.Y.—featuring established Wall Street giants and up-and-coming fintech, blockchain, and venture finance firms—Haun weighed in on another milestone for the crypto industry: Facebook's new digital currency called Libra, which was formally announced on Tuesday.

If the wildly ambitious project progresses as intended, users will be able to shop with the currency and send it on apps in the Facebook ecosystem, and use it with other merchants like Uber, Spotify, and MasterCard. While the Libra is being cheered in some corners, it is not without its skeptics, including regulators and lawmakers who have pounced on the project.

On Wednesday, Haun addressed some of those concerns in explaining why Andreessen joined Facebook's Libra Association, a consortium of 28 members—including the likes of PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard—that will decide how the currency is governed.

“One of they key factors in our decision to join was that we would in fact have—and all members would have—an equal vote,” she said.

She compared cooperation between NGOs, financial organizations, and Facebook itself on the project to a sort of "constitutional convention."

“You have all these different states coming in trying to form this union," she said.

She said all the Association's members haven't met yet, so substantive details about its governance are scarce. But she's convinced "very important conversations" will take place. "There will be debates because there are very different points of view," she said.

Clearly, there are plenty of outstanding questions about Libra and future of finance more broadly, many of which will be addressed on Day 2 of Brainstorm Finance. It will feature Ellevest's Sallie Krawcheck, Edward Jones's Penny Pennington, Coinbase's Alesia Haas, and Ananya Chadha, a 17-year-old blockchain engineer. Check out the full agenda and livestream here. Fortune

Claire Zillman


 Looking at Libra. At Fortune's Brainstorm Finance, Tala CEO Shivani Siroya also weighed in on Libra. Tala offers small loans to unbanked and underbanked populations, and Siroya says Libra could help the company reach more consumers faster. Fortune

Google gets grilled. At Alphabet's shareholder meeting, 14 items meant to increase the company's accountability, equality, and transparency were rejected. Google co-founders control a majority of voting power; one shareholder proposal on pay equity even had official backing from Time's Up. Employees confronted management at the meeting over the company's handling of sexual harassment allegations and work on a censored search engine for China (all covered in Beth Kowitt's recent Fortune story).  Fortune

No questions please. Hope Hicks testified to Congress behind closed doors Tuesday, but declined to answer any questions about her time in the White House. (She did discuss the 2016 Trump campaign.) Democrats plan to go to court in an attempt to compel Hicks to answer. CNN

Purpose = results. Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden writes for Fortune about the future of CEO activism—and how companies need to develop a purpose. A purpose-driven approach strengthens employee loyalty, crystallizes a holistic view of the business, social, and environmental landscape, and helps to predict challenges, she says. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Tesla vice president of HR and head of diversity Felicia Mayo left the companyAnn Marie Buerkle, acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, withdrew her nomination to run the agency permanently after a crisis over its handling of the dangers found to infants in the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. Former Salesforce EVP Leyla Seka joins the board of Girls Who Code. Axiom hires Sidra Berman as CMO and EVP. United Way Worldwide named Suzanne McCormick the incoming U.S. president of the organization.


A notable Netflix deal. Like Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes, Janet Mock signed a sweeping overall deal at Netflix—hers is described as a "three-year multimillion-dollar pact." Mock's agreement makes history for another reason; she'll be "the first out transgender woman empowered to call the creative shots at a major content company." Variety

Imagine that. Remember the Japanese medical school that rigged entrance exams to favor men? After it stopped doing that, overall exam scores went up! Women outperformed the male applicants in the first year since the school stopped the practice. Guardian

Loud and proud. In a series for Pride Month, several members of the LGBTQ community reflect on gender and sexuality for the New York Times. Read through for contributions from actor Asia Kate Dillon, performance artist Kate Bornstein, author and activist Barbara Smith, and Transgender Equity Consulting founder Cecilia Gentili. New York Times

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma HinchliffeShare it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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