Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 20 June 2023

Podcast – Interview with Michael Gronager, CEO and Co-Founder, Chainalysis

Part of our special series of episodes of the c-suite podcast that we’re recording in partnership with the European PR Agency Tyto and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Michael Gronager, CEO and Co-Founder, Chainalysis.

Co-hosts Russell Goldsmith, Founder, Audere, and Tyto’s Senior Partner, Holly Justice were joined online by Michael Gronager, CEo and Co-founder of Chainalysis, the blockchain data platform, that reached unicorn status in 2021 and is now valued at $8.6bn.

Michael started by explaining that it is Chainalysis’ job to analyse all data on blockchain using anything from helping crypto businesses to compliance to the public sector to keep citizens safe by being able to investigate cases and then prevent them.

As crypto grows, so does Chainalysis and when they grow, so does the space.

Born innovator Michael has dabbled in sectors such as virtual reality and finance but he explains he has been ‘bitten by the bug’ of innovating and actually building something. Leaving Kraken to build his company where he saw a gap in the market is what had to be done in his eyes. Did this pay off for Michael? Absolutely.

With recent funding of $170m, the company is only going to grow at a faster pace. This type of funding clarifies to the company they are doing well within the space and people truly believe in what their business is all about.

With this funding more innovation will be made, deep in the product side like recent products: Storyline and Playbook. Another major push forward in the growth of the business is seeing it go global. Chainalysis have sales in 70 countries, which require teams to grow their footprint. Crypto is everywhere so Chainalysis must follow.

Any great leader must understand their employees and how the business should function to benefit not only the company but its stakeholders. Michael explained that empathy is his way of leadership style. He understands the great responsibility he holds and gets his priorities right, something he said that too many leaders fail to execute correctly.

Therefore, when done right and understanding employee problems, true leadership strengths are shown.

He holds his hands up saying he is no expert in sales but his ability to build connections is vital for the team to run smoothly. Something which every good leader should be able to do is not only have a helicopter view but also a microscope view which enables the problem to well and truly be tackled.

A humbling experience Michael said, has been hiring strong leaders from other unicorn companies. But with determination and winning over not just their heads but their hearts Michael managed to build a great team around him. All thanks to the basis of the company. This being that it is unique and there is none quite like it in the space, they have created their own market and are not operating in a red ocean.

Becoming a unicorn company is a massive achievement, something many aim for. Perception on the company can shift after this and with that happening to Chainalysis they only saw customer loyalty being increased and the realisation that this is real strikes the team.

Culture is an extremely vital part of any organisation. Chainalysis is built on an open culture which shares everything that is going on. Communication through leaders is vital and it is that type of forward-thinking which has brought success to the company.

Michael onboards everyone still to this day, taking time out of his busy calendar to onboard the latest cohort of Chainalysis, booking free space in his office hours and suggesting coffee meets is always in which successful communication and culture is presented at the company.

Focusing on building trust and focusing on how you say the bigger picture. are important questions which are in the forefront of the businesses mind.

When asked about his own communication style, Michael explains he has a unique and different approach. The art of improvising has been the way in which he communicates and finds that this is a lot more effective than having prepared what to say.

It is more authentic and real, and this is really displayed throughout his speeches and talks. Emphasizing he is still on the journey to become the best communicator but so far so good!

A question asked to all unicorn leaders on our series which never fails to disappoint is what advice would they give their younger selves? Michael says overcommunication is the key to success in his case. Saying something three times just isn’t enough.

If you have said it three times, it is highly likely you should say it another three. It is important to also look from different viewpoints when there is a problem or a situation which needs to be tackled. This is also a good way at truly understanding employees and seeing a situation through someone else’s eyes.

The importance of communication has been a strong topic and coming from the CEO of Chainalysis it is clear why they have reached unicorn status. A true example of an efficient and determined leader.

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