Former Ledger executives launch start-ups

Former Ledger executives launch start-ups

Having long been the epicentre of the French crypto ecosystem, Ledger now has many former employees at the helm of innovative companies. Here's a look at the projects of the Ledger mafia.

Few companies evolving in crypto have seen such a large number of talents pass through their (young) history. "There's no doubt about it, you could call it a Ledger mafia," quips a former employee of the French start-up, as if to emphasise that many of them have worked there at one time or another.

"It's simple, just a few years ago, the best options for those wanting to work in crypto in France came down to knocking on the door of Ledger or ConsenSys, one of the main development studios for the Ethereum ecosystem", bellows a veteran of the sector.

Why Ledger? Probably because the company specialising in securing digital assets has long been one of the few flagships of an industry in search of landmarks.

"Ledger was structuring right from the start for the French ecosystem," remembers Ivan de Lastours, head of Crypto & Blockchain at Bpifrance. "It was a kind of obligatory passage, at least to get your bearings", he explains.

The company had something magnetic about it, a bit like Apple for computer enthusiasts. It was one of the few to convey a positive image of the sector. "Ledger has always been able to federate because it was launched around the idea of self-custody, a cardinal value in the ecosystem and one that also resonates with the general public," points out Fabrice Dautriat, in charge of the platform since 2018, whose departure was announced last month.

While the company is going through a somewhat complicated period with the loss of 300 jobs in 2023 and successive delays to its latest hardware wallet Stax (more than a year behind the initial announcement), it can nevertheless congratulate itself on having stimulated creativity in its teams.

In fact, many ex-Ledgers have since launched their own projects, and here are a few that caught our eye.

👉 Nicolas Bacca

The last guardian of the temple, Nicolas Bacca is the last co-founder of Ledger to have held an operational position there. He left the company in September 2023.

He has been working for several months on a new kind of crypto wallet that will allow users to retain control of their funds, without having to keep the precious private key. A small team has already been put together, but the name of the company has not yet been announced.

"We will initially be targeting brands that want to offer NFTs to their customers," says Nicolas Bacca. "The wallet will be fully integrated into the website so as not to change the user experience. The aim is that they won't even notice that there's blockchain behind it," he agrees.

👉 Jean-Michel Pailhon (Grail Capital)*

A close friend of co-founder Éric Larchevêque and former right-hand man to current CEO Pascal Gauthier, Jean-Michel Pailhon, a collector of NFTs from the outset, was a major contributor to Ledger's strategic shift towards integrating NFTs more fully into its services.

"Ledger has been a pretty incredible adventure for me. In terms of growth, it's hard to find equivalents in France, or even in Europe. Like many historical figures, I felt it was time for me to try my hand at a personal adventure", he explains.

He now heads up Grail Capital, an investment fund specialising in digital art, which is trying to be a pioneer in this nascent market.

👉 Fabrice Dautriat (Adamik)

After just over five years at Ledger, the former head of the platform recently launched Adamik, a solution to help crypto companies integrate support for new blockchains.

"The goal with Adamik is to provide a solution that allows any company to develop blockchain-based solutions such as multichain staking products or easily integrate exotic cryptos into their platform," explains Fabrice Dautriat. "Integrations of this type are still a major brake on adoption by businesses," he adds.

👉 Jérôme de Tychey (Cometh)

In charge of customer satisfaction between 2020 and 2021, he is now head of Cometh, one of the most prominent start-ups in the blockchain gaming sector.

As well as launching blockchain games via Cometh Game Studio, Cometh is also busy developing software for blockchain applications aimed at a more traditional audience.

"It is in this context that we have started to develop solutions for our partners such as Française des Jeux (FDJ) based in particular on account abstraction, indexing and marketplaces," he explained in an interview with The Big Whale.

Jean-Michel Pailhon is an individual minority shareholder in The Big Whale*

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