Ian Rogers, LVMH’s chief digital officer, has left the luxury giant to join a French start-up called Ledger that is a world leader in making hardware-based digital wallets to hold cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
The California native has spent much of his career at the intersection of music and technology as a serial entrepreneur. LVMH recruited him in 2015 from Apple where he helped roll out its streaming service, and enlisted him to expand its ecommerce operations and inject brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior with more digital knowhow.
Now Mr Rogers, 48, is trading in LVMH’s glitzy offices on luxury shopping street Avenue Montaigne for Ledger’s more modest digs in a central Paris neighbourhood called Silicon Sentier that is home to many start-ups.
His mission as Ledger’s chief experience officer will be to expand its consumer business and help bring cryptocurrency ownership to the masses as opposed to the relatively niche activity it remains today.
“When I look at cryptocurrency, privacy and security, I have a similar feeling I did about music in the early 2000s at the beginning of the streaming era,” said Mr Rogers in an interview.
“There is an inevitable change coming, but it’s the very beginning, so not everything will be easily predictable . . . but these are very fast-growing markets, so that’s where I like to be.”
Mr Roger’s move to Ledger comes amid a rally in bitcoin this year — the price hit an intraday high last week of $19,510 before dropping back. Many new investors have flocked to the asset helped by improvements to the tools and trading platforms that facilitate bitcoin trading. Some also see bitcoin as a potential inflation hedge.
Ledger, which was founded in 2013, sells hardware security products to protect users of cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications to secure their digital assets. It has sold about 2m digital wallets across 165 countries, with its Nano series among the industry’s most popular hardware solutions.
Ledger has raised $87m from venture investors including Draper Esprit and Samsung Ventures. The valuation implied in its last funding round in 2018 has not been disclosed.
Pascal Gauthier, chief executive, said Ledger planned to hire more than 100 people next year to expand its existing workforce of 250.
Most of the start-up’s sales come from consumers, but in 2018 it began marketing a product called Ledger Vault to institutional investors such as hedge funds that needed to secure their crypto assets.
“We want to grow by bringing new features to the technology to make it more secure and easier to use,” said Mr Gauthier.
“I need help to scale the business and take it to the next level, and Ian has the experience, leadership, vision and management skills to help.”
While at LVMH, Mr Rogers helped refine the luxury conglomerate’s approach to how it sells and promotes its brands online, winning over some insiders who feared ecommerce and social media would dilute the exclusivity of the group’s products.
Ecommerce has accelerated in luxury this year as the pandemic has forced months of store closures. Some analysts predict ecommerce will account for nearly half of luxury sales by 2025 when the industry is expected to have recovered from the impact of Covid-19.
Mr Rogers said he would remain an adviser to LVMH on digital projects, as well as continuing to run its annual innovation awards, a competition for luxury, fashion and ecommerce start-ups.