Former MercadoLibre Director Joins Bitcoin Startup Moneero

Moneero has announced that Rodrigo Benzaquen, the former R&D director of Latin American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre, has officially joined its board of directors.

The announcement is the latest milestone for Uruguay-based bitcoin service provider Moneero, which exited stealth mode in July.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Moneero co-founder Steven Morell framed the announcement as a sign that his company is ready to move past its development stage to bring its wallet product, social apps and developer services to more consumers across Latin America and the world.

Morell told CoinDesk:

“We need somebody who has the experience from 14–15 years with MercadoLibre, starting in the garage and building up an online empire that made it to Wall Street. Having Rodrigo means a decade and a half of experience running a multinational operation.”

Launched in 1999, MercadoLibre  the ‘eBay of Latin America‘ – provides an e-commerce platform for consumers in 13 Latin American countries, and generates $7.3bn in annual merchandise sales. Notably, eBay itself is the firm’s largest investor, owning roughly one-fifth of the company’s total public stock.

In addition to his experience at MercadoLibre, Benzaquen most recently worked as an IT specialist at KaszeK Ventures, a major Buenos Aires-based capital fund that raised a $135m fund in February with support from Horsley Bridge Partners and Sequoia Heritage.

Early bitcoin adopter

Benzaquen also used the announcement to voice his support for both Moneero and the wider digital currency industry, describing himself as an “early adopter” of the technology and explaining that he first discovered bitcoin in 2011 during his tenure working for MercadoLibre in Silicon Valley.

The e-commerce veteran has been the most outspoken about his passion for bitcoin on his official blog, where he has reviewed bitcoin wallets and mining rigs, and even posted a presentation, cryptically titled “Bitcoin 101 for MELI“. The heading suggests that the slideshow may have even been shown to a wider audience at his former company, which uses the stock symbol ‘MELI’ on NASDAQ.

In statements, Benzaquen was equally vocal about his support for his new company, saying:

“Moneero is a very promising startup in the bitcoin field and I am sure this is going to be a great work with this exceptional team.”

Morell indicated that Benzaquen will work full time at Moneero following the announcement.

Moneero’s next steps

With its formal launch and the latest addition to its board behind it, Morell indicated that Moneero will move on to a new set of challenges, namely building its customer support, addressing legal matters, forming strategic partnerships and building market share.

Morell explained:

“Over the last year and half, we’ve been focused on the pipes and screws on which all we can provide now is built. What will happen in the next months to come is that we go into operation.”

Moneero intends to focus its efforts on four core products, its social, bitcoin-sending apps; its proprietary bitcoin ATMs; its SMS bitcoin wallet; and its investor trading engine.

For more of Morell’s thoughts on how his startup may fare in the still nascent South American bitcoin market and the wider challenges he and his peers face, read our most recent report.

Rodrigo Benzaquen image via Moneero


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