Inside ETFs CEO departs for cryptocurrency venture

Matt Hougan will stay on as chairman of Inside ETFs, even as he takes on a new position with Bitwise Asset Management

Feb 20, 2018 @ 2:37 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

Having helped establish a global reputation for Inside ETFs, Matt Hougan is now setting his sights on the potential of cryptocurrencies.

Mr. Hougan, 41, has stepped away from his role as CEO of Inside ETFs to join San Francisco-based Bitwise Asset Management, where he is the vice president of research and development.

"The crypto asset space is so interesting and exciting," he said. "This was just an opportunity I couldn't turn down."

Mr. Hougan's replacement at Inside ETFs is London-based John Swolfs.

"Matt has been grooming me for this role for some time," said Mr. Swolfs, 39, who joined the company seven years ago as director of conference content, and moved to London last year as vice president and head of the company's European operations.

In addition to his new role, Mr. Hougan is staying on as an active chairman at Inside ETFs, which has established a global reputation and growing footprint of ETF conferences and webinars.

Mr. Hougan joined the company 15 years ago when it was still known as ETF.com, which was sold off in 2015 in three parts, including media, data and the conference business.

"I essentially sold myself off," said Mr. Hougan, referring to the conference business that he was a part of, which was acquired by London-based Informa.

Inside ETFs, which hosted its 11th annual conference in the United States last month, is now also hosting ETF conferences in Europe and Asia, and later this year will host its first conference in Canada.

"Under Matt's leadership, the Inside ETF conference has grown into a must-attend event, not only for ETF experts but also for advisers who want to get up to speed on the latest trends," said Todd Rosenbluth, senior director of ETF research at CFRA.

"I've done numerous panels and education events with Matt, and I'm happy to hear he is going to continue to be a key resource for that company because the ETF industry is continuing to expand, and we're seeing more and more advisers that want to learn about ETFs for their practices," he added.

Mr. Swolfs, who will continue to lead Inside ETFs from London, said the location is an advantage as the company expands its international reach.

"I don't see being London-based as a challenge," he said. "It's an opportunity to connect with Asia during their day, as well as stay connected with London and the U.S."

Meanwhile, Bitwise, a venture-capital-backed company launched last year, currently has a single product, Bitwise HOLD 10 Private Index Fund, a private fund that Mr. Hougan describes as the "S&P 500 for cryptocurrencies."

Instead of trying to guess which cryptocurrency will survive the quickly-evolving area of digital financial exchanges, Mr. Hougan said the private fund "captures about 80% of the market in the crypto space."

"What attracted me to Bitwise is the diversified index approach to the space," he added.

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