Alex Mashinsky

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Alex Mashinsky
2021 - Centre Stage PO1 0057 (51654289843).jpg
Mashinsky in 2021
Born
Ukraine
Citizenship
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, CEO
EmployerCelsius Network
SpouseKrissy Mashinsky
Children6
Websitewww.mashinsky.com

Alex Mashinsky (born October 5, 1965[not verified in body]) is an Israeli-American entrepreneur and business executive. He was the founder and CEO of Celsius Network, a cryptocurrency lending platform,[1] which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 13, 2022.[2]

In the early 1990s, Mashinsky founded VoiceSmart, one of the first firms to offer telecommunications switches to handle ordinary voice as well as Voice over IP call routing.[3] Mashinsky founded GroundLink in 2004 as a service to book an on-demand limousine and car services from a computer or smartphone.[citation needed] He was also the founder of Q-Wireless, which later became part of Transit Wireless.[4] From 2014 to 2015, Mashinsky served as CEO of Novatel.[5]

Early life[edit]

Mashinsky was born in 1965 in Ukraine to a Jewish family. His family obtained permission to leave the country in the 1970s[6] and later moved to Israel.[7][8] From an early age, he was a tinkerer, like his father, and would tap into and use public phone lines in Israel.[8] Mashinsky attended a few different universities where he majored in electrical engineering but did not graduate. He later served in the Israeli Army.[8] At the end of the 1980s, he left Israel and moved to the United States.[9][7]

Career[edit]

Mashinsky has worked in a variety of different industries, often focusing on popular technologies. The Wall Street Journal described him in 2022 as "a brash, confident serial entrepreneur with a constant stream of big ideas". On several occasions, Mashinsky has left his companies after a period of conflict or tension.[6]

After relocating to New York City, Mashinsky ran a business trading contracts for delivery of chemicals such as urea, gold, and sodium cyanide. However, after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the business slowed as exports of sodium cyanide from China fizzled. Mashinsky then worked at A+ Systems, a computer-based voicemail software company for phone carriers.[8]

Telecommunications companies[edit]

He was also an early developer of voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP).[10][11] In the early 1990s, he founded VoiceSmart, one of the first companies to offer computer-based VOIP phone service.[9] By 1993, Mashinsky had realized the potential for a commodity market for international telephone capacity.[12] So, in 1996, Mashinsky founded Arbinet, a marketplace for VoIP telephone service.[9][7] The platform was one of the first to allow telecommunication companies to trade minutes.[13] In November 1997, Arbinet began offering a similar service for data connectivity, allowing the more than 400 T1 lines connected to its New York hub to exchange their unused bandwidth.[14]

In 2005, he sold his stake in Arbinet and used part of the profits from the sale to start GroundLink.[7] The company allowed people to book limousine and car service from a smartphone or computer.[15] Mashinsky was inspired to start the company after a car he had reserved for himself and his wife failed to pick them up, along with a business associate he was trying to impress, from the airport.[7] In 2010, Mashinsky organized a joint venture between GroundLink and several limousine and car service companies. These companies with LimoRes Car & Limo Service, a company Mashinsky also founded, installed free Wi-Fi service funded solely by sales of advertising.[16] He also partnered with Gogo Inflight Internet to offer the free service on US flights.[4]

Mashinsky's company Q-Wireless is one of the four companies that made up Transit Wireless, a joint venture to install wireless cellphone and free Wi-Fi internet service in the New York City Subway system.[17] It took Mashinsky three years to convince Metropolitan Transportation Authority to initiate a survey to determine if there was a demand for cell phone service inside the subway system and two more years for the authority to request a proposal.[11] By 2010,[17] his company had received a contract to install the service at 277 below-ground subway stations in New York City.[11]

In April 2014, Mashinsky was named to the board of directors of Novatel, a provider of Wi-Fi hotspot products.[18] He was appointed CEO in June of that year.[19][20] In October 2015, Mashinsky left his position at Novatel after a year and a half as CEO of the company.[21] In a 2018 deposition, Mashinsky said that he was terminated from his post because he refused to move from New York to Novatel's San Diego headquarters.[6]

RTX, a London-based financial technology firm in the telecom industry, hired Mashinsky as Global CEO in September 2016.[22] After six months in the role, following a dispute with management, Mashinsky left the company, according to his 2018 deposition.[6]

Celsius Network[edit]

In 2017, Mashinsky founded Celsius Network, a borrowing and lending platform for digital assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.[23][24] It encouraged its customers to "unbank" themselves and offered interest rates as high as 18.6 per cent on cryptocurrency deposits.[25]

As CEO, he hosted "Ask Mashinsky Anything", a weekly YouTube livestream in which he answered questions about Celsius. He became known for wearing T-shirts reading "Banks are not your friends", for his critical comments about unsuccessful businesses (including his own), and for publicity stunts such as an attempt to vandalize a branch of Chase Bank.[26][27]

In January 2022, Mashinsky took control of Celsius's trading strategy. Some insiders reported that he personally directed large individual cryptocurrency trades, overruling executives with significant financial experience.[28]

Mashinsky withdrew $10 million from Celsius in May 2022. The withdrawals came as customers were withdrawing assets in large quantities while the company was nearing bankruptcy, according to a report in October 2022. A spokesperson for Mashinsky told the Financial Times that the funds were used for tax payments and estate planning.[29] In total, Arkham Intelligence estimates that Mashinsky sold $44 million worth of CEL tokens through exchanges.[26]

On July 13, 2022, one month after it paused customer withdrawals, Celsius filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[30] Mashinsky said that "the Company made what, in hindsight, proved to be certain poor asset deployment decisions."[31][32]

Mashinsky resigned as Celsius CEO on September 27, 2022. Chris Ferraro, the former CFO of Celsius, was appointed to replace him as interim CEO. The Unsecured Creditors Committee, an organization of depositors, described the executive change as "a positive step" towards resolving the cases against Celsius.[33]

On January 5, 2023, the Attorney General of New York filed a civil lawsuit against Mashinsky, accusing him of violating the state's Martin Act. Letitia James's office seeks a fine against Mashinsky, monetary damages, and a ban that would prevent him from leading a company or working in the securities industry in the state of New York.[34][35]

Recognition[edit]

Mashinsky was listed in Business Insider's "The Silicon Alley 100: New York’s Coolest Tech People" in 2010.[36] As head of LimoRes, Mashinsky was selected as one of Crain's Top Entrepreneurs in 2010.[37] His VoIP intellectual property was recognized by Internet Telephony magazine in its list of Top 100 VoIP Communications.[38] He was awarded the Albert Einstein Technology Medal in 2000, and the Technology Foresight Award for Innovation in 1999.[39][verification needed] He won the Catalyst of Innovation Award from TechUnited:NJ on May 25, 2022.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Mashinsky lives in New York City with his wife, Krissy Mashinsky, and six children.[41] Krissy runs the online retailer usastrong.IO, which attracted controversy for selling shirts reading "Unbankrupt Yourself", a play on Celsius Network’s slogan "Unbank Yourself", after Celsius went bankrupt.[42]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Pattnaik, Bibhu (January 30, 2022). "Celsius CEO Says Bitcoin May Crash Ahead Of Massive Rally, Ethereum Heading To New All-Time High". Benzinga. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  2. ^ Gladstone, Alexander; Huang, Vicky; Biswas, Soma (July 14, 2022). "Crypto Crash Drags Lender Celsius Network Into Bankruptcy". The Wall Street Journal.
  3. ^ Faridi, Omar (August 4, 2020). "Alex Mashinsky from Celsius Network Argues that the Ethereum based Lending Platform Is Better than its DeFi Competitors". Crowdfund Insider. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  4. ^ a b Kolodny, Lora (August 10, 2010). "Gogo and Groundlink's Partnership, Free Inflight Internet Deal". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  5. ^ Kobialka, Dan (November 7, 2014). "Novatel Wireless Appoints Alex Mashinsky as Permanent CEO". Channel Futures. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d Fanelli, James; Huang, Vicky Ge (August 6, 2022). "Before Crypto Lender Celsius Crashed, CEO Alex Mashinsky Was Known for Big Ideas and Battles". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e Garmhausen, Steve (2010). "GroundLink - Top Entrepreneurs 2010". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  8. ^ a b c d Guth, Rob (January 25, 1999). "Bandwidth Merchant?". The Industry Standard. Archived from the original on 2000-08-18. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Light, Jay O.; Green, Daniel J. (2000-07-21). "Arbinet Communications, Inc. (A)". Harvard Business School Case Collection (January 2001 ed.). Harvard Business School (Case 201-006): 4–5.
  10. ^ Leising, Matthew (2018-05-02). "A Verbal Cryptobrawl Breaks Out at Milken Over Bitcoin's Future". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  11. ^ a b c Surden, Esther (March 26, 2012). "Transit Wireless founder advises entrepreneurs at NJ Tech Meetup to take personality test". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  12. ^ "Down with distance". The Economist. September 11, 1997. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  13. ^ Schiesel, Seth (1999-07-11). "Jumping Off the Bandwidth Wagon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  14. ^ McDonald, Glenn (April 1999). "Fast Times on the Minute Exchange". Business 2.0. Archived from the original on 2003-06-11. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  15. ^ Zimmerman, Eilene (September 26, 2010). "Ground-transport firm flying high". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  16. ^ Grossman, Andrew (2010-08-04). "Coming Soon to City, Wi-Fi on the Go". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  17. ^ a b Donohue, Pete (July 30, 2010). "Subway tunnels set to get Wi-Fi, cell signals". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  18. ^ Freeman, Mike (April 29, 2014). "Novatel Wireless settles shareholder spat". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  19. ^ Graves, Brad (December 4, 2014). "Return to Roots". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  20. ^ Freeman, Mike (June 13, 2014). "Shareholders push out Novatel CEO". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  21. ^ Freeman, Mike (October 29, 2015). "Novatel Wireless fires CEO, names replacement". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  22. ^ Ralls, Amy (September 16, 2016). "Alex Mashinsky Joins RTX to Fuel Global Growth". Telecom Reseller. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  23. ^ Rogers, Stewart (2017-10-10). "Celsius aims to disrupt the consumer credit industry using blockchain". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  24. ^ "Crypto Lending Company Celsius Names New CFO". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  25. ^ MacColl, Margaux (8 July 2022). "Crypto Wants Its Cash Back: Inside the Small but Mighty Legal Crusade to Win Back Lost Savings". The Information.
  26. ^ a b "Inside Celsius: how one of crypto's biggest lenders ground to a halt". Financial Times. 2022-07-13. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  27. ^ Oliver, Joshua; Shubber, Kadhim (June 17, 2022). "Alex Mashinsky, Celsius founder feeling the heat". Financial Times. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  28. ^ "Alex Mashinsky took control of Celsius trading strategy months before bankruptcy". Financial Times. 2022-08-16. Retrieved 2022-08-30.
  29. ^ "Celsius Network founder withdrew $10mn ahead of bankruptcy". Financial Times. 2022-10-03. Retrieved 2022-10-03.
  30. ^ Gladstone, Alexander; Ge Huang, Vicky; Biswas, Soma (July 14, 2022). "Crypto Crash Drags Lender Celsius Network Into Bankruptcy". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  31. ^ Mashinsky, Alex (July 14, 2022). "Declaration of Alex Mashinsky, Chief Executive Officer of Celsius Network LLC, in Support of Chapter 11 Petitions and First Day Motions" (PDF). Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  32. ^ Biswas, Soma; Huang, Vicky Ge (July 15, 2022). "Celsius Owes Users More Than $4.7 Billion". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  33. ^ Capoot, Ashley; Rooney, Kate; Tortorelli, Paige (September 27, 2022). "Celsius CEO resigns in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings". CNBC. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  34. ^ Goswami, Rohan. "New York AG accuses Celsius ex-CEO of defrauding crypto investors". CNBC. Retrieved 2023-01-05.
  35. ^ Alpert, Lukas I. (January 5, 2023). "New York attorney general files fraud suit against Celsius Network and its founder Alex Mashinsky". MarketWatch. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  36. ^ "Alex Mashinsky #31". Business Insider. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  37. ^ "Top Entrepreneurs of 2010". Crain's New York. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  38. ^ "Top Voices of IP Communications". Internet Telephony magazine. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  39. ^ "3 best pieces of advice from serial entrepreneur, investor Alex Mashinsky for startup founders". Silicon Canals. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  40. ^ Swayze, William (June 21, 2022). "TechUnited:NJ Catalyst Awards Event Draws Crowd to Newark Museum". NJ Tech Weekly. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  41. ^ "Cryptocurrency mogul gifts wife $20M-worth of tokens for her birthday". Page Six. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  42. ^ Bienasz, Gabrielle (2022-09-16). "Ex-Celsius CEO's Wife Selling 'Unbankrupt Yourself' T-Shirts". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2022-09-29.