Meet Vijayawada’s founder Raghu Yarlagadda. His American cryptocurrency trading platform FalconX has surpassed $8 billion in market value despite a downturn in the global crypto markets
Early in his career, Raghu Yarlagadda had ample insight into what he wanted to accomplish. “I was looking to build products that were of immense value, could have a huge impact, and that could make an impact on the world,” says co-founder and chief executive officer of FalconX, one of the biggest and fastest-growing digital asset brokerages that is based in the US and with offices in Silicon Valley, Chicago (US), Malta and Bengaluru (India). The company’s June earnings report revealed that FalconX increased its value to $8 billion as the company raised 150 million through the Series D round of capital that was led by GIC and B Capital. In addition, the round was populated from investors who are already in the business, such as Thoma Bravo Wellington Management, Adams Street Partners and Tiger Global Management, FalconX already had a lengthy list of marquee investors including Accel, Altimeter Capital and American Express Ventures.
In the midst of a business that was established in 2018, the chief executive of a cryptocurrency brokerage and online trading platforms for digital assets designed for institutional investors has managed to achieve three things was his dream during his college and high school years. First , there is the importance. Yarlagadda’s ten-year-old digital asset trading platform, without doubt is important to VCs. The valuation of FalconX has gone from $3.75 billion in August of last year to an astounding $8 billion today.
The second impact is the most significant. With over $430 million raised from the world’s most renowned investment firms, FalconX has emerged as one of the most rapid and important crypto prime brokers around the globe. The company’s service for crypto-as-a-service allows global banks as well as fintech companies and investment apps to include crypto in their offerings. The aim is to allow the next billion people to join the crypto market. This is a certain kind of effect.
Then there’s the “dent in the universe” part. Yarlagadda is able to do quite well in this regard. “When I realized that the vast majority of the value in the world is likely to be tokenized and I wanted to create an organization that would be in the forefront of this shift,” he says, explaining the motivation behind starting FalconX in the year 2018. After four years, from the world’s biggest hedge funds, to Fintech firms everyone is focused on the digital asset transformation. “Irrespective of where we’re situated, I wanted to develop a product that would cater to the trend of tokenization,” says the founder. “I was able to see this clearly.”
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In Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, in which Yarlagadda was born, and raised there was a second clarity for the boy very early on in his career. He was instructed on that he was not allowed to do. “My father, a physician has given me a remarkable sense of clarity about why I shouldn’t be an ophthalmologist,” smiles Yarlagadda. Reason? “My father was aware that I was not patient,” he says. The diagnosis of his father was backed by medical recommendations. In his time at high school, Yarlagadda was intensely passionate about engineering and badminton, in this order.
One of practice sessions, the young man suffered a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament. went to the top orthopaedic doctor in the city and made a passionate appeal. “Please repair it. I’m really enthusiastic about badminton and do not want my performance to be impaired,” he said to the doctor.
The next thing that happened was nothing short of dramatic. “I was seeking medical advice and he offered me career guidance,” laughs Yarlagadda. “Why badminton? You have to be an engineer,” said the doctor who used the ligament’s injury as a pretext to draw a less-than-perfect picture of the sport as a profession. “That’s the way I was pushed into my second love and I was a engineer,”” claims Yarlagadda, who completed his engineering studies at Vellore Institute of Technology, and later completed his masters degree in electrical engineering at the University of Texas. “For me engineering is a way to create worth,” he says.
India plays an important role for FalconX. Of the staff of 160 around 40 percent are located in India. But this will change in the coming two years. “About 60-65 percent of the workforce will come originated from India,” says Yarlagadda saying that he’s never thought of India as an office satellite. “India is almost as big as the huge headquarters,” he says. In terms of size as well as operations, core engineering and strategic thinking in operations, and strategic thinking US both India offices are evenly split. If there is more clarity regarding the regulatory side, FalconX will launch operations for institutions in India and the US, he says.Is crypto the way of the future? Yarlagadda is open about it. “I’m not one of those who believes everything is flawlessly great and perfect when it comes to cryptocurrency,” he says, noting that there’s a bit of frost. As with all early technologies there is a need for the froth to be removed out of the system. “In fact, we’re in the process of correction at the moment,” he says. India is, he says, is the ideal place to launch the crypto revolution. A combination of a large populations of English-speaking citizens, a vast democratic structure that allows for digital assets, and a fervent desire to make financial inclusion a reality gives India a head start in the digital asset revolution. The forces of intersecting vectors offer a great chance to build something that is as significant as what India was able to achieve outsourcing fifteen or twenty years ago. “India can really build the world’s first crypto system. I’m hoping we can take advantage of the opportunity to do so,” He signs off.