“I think the Silicon Valley ecosystem is unique. In today’s world with internet tools, anyone ANYWHERE can create a company and be operational in several hours. The value of being in Silicon Valley is that the ecosystem is very supportive and truly provides introductions and a “leg up” with meetings and connections.”
I had the pleasure to interview Maryanne Morrow. Maryanne is a 20+ year veteran of the financial industry working as a mutual fund specialist, launching a family of funds and architecting fee-based asset management platforms for banks, broker dealers and insurance firms. She was involved in 2 successful exits (to Standard & Poor’s and to BNP Paribas). She also consulted on the custom content and advertising efforts of many financial firms working at The Wall Street Journal. Maryanne was educated at Cornell — Material Science Engineering, LeMoyne — Finance and Whittier Law School. Currently, she is the CEO and Founder of SurgeXLR, a boutique accelerator that focuses on monetization, plus an active angel investor and an expert on blockchain, ICOs and cryptocurrency; as well as the CEO of fintech blockchain startup, 9thGear.io (currently operating in stealth mode).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I spent most of my career in institutional finance in the Boston/NYC corridor, working with investment management firms, banks, broker dealers and insurance companies. I moved to the West Coast in 2010 for a life without snow and to be closer to the grapes (I’m a huge wine collector and hate being cold). I worked for Dow Jones (the custom content group now called WSJ Custom Studios) and then led the financial advertising category of The Wall Street Journal on the West Coast. I left Corporate America several years ago and started working with startups.
Last year, I had what I call a “Blockchain Awakening.” Once I truly and deeply understood the power of blockchain, I thought about how it could solve processes in the back offices of institutional finance. This led to a decision to start my own company and do something with the FX market no one has done before.
Something interesting earlier in my career led me to think I could take on such a challenge. I climbed the Northeast 111 the summer of 1995–113 mountains over 4,000 feet. Last time I checked, I hold the record for the only female to have climbed them all in one hiking season. It was an effort in perseverance and mind over matter, not to mention someone told me that it couldn’t be done and that’s all I needed to hear to try and prove that theory wrong.
I go back to that experience often in my work life. When I go into meetings (whether it be at Goldman Sachs or Apple), I know that it will never be as terrifying as holding on by my fingernails going up Huntington Ravine, the toughest trail in the NE. In this way I am reminded that we can all use our back story to find success in our present.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
We are deconstructing institutional finance trades and using blockchain to authenticate parts of the trade. As such, we can take financial processes that currently take days and shorten the time down to seconds, eliminating a lot of risk in the marketplace. In doing so, we are creating a whole new marketplace for more parties to participate in transactions. That’s a powerful new commerce method.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
More than a person, I think the Silicon Valley ecosystem is unique. In today’s world with internet tools, anyone ANYWHERE can create a company and be operational in several hours. The value of being in Silicon Valley is that the ecosystem is very supportive and truly provides introductions and a “leg up” with meetings and connections.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Trusted software as an intermediary for transactions
Robust and serious developer community
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Association with cryptocurrency
Improper securing of endpoints
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I bring on an intern each quarter to give back and help a young mind focus on how to approach business and what’s important. I also take the time to speak on stage at events, or participate in panels, on how to take business to the next level.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Don’t be afraid to take risks and fail. You learn more from failure than success.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Meg Whitman because she has forged new markets where others have not seen opportunities. I want to better understand how she maximizes the potential of teams within organizations.
Also, Peter Thiel because I’m curious about his polarizing views.
Originally published at medium.com