The son of Jean-Claude Deret, a French playwright and actor, Arthur Breitman studied applied mathematics, computer science and physics in France, before moving to the United States and studying financial mathematics at New York University. He went on to work for the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
He is still listed as a co-organizer and “dear leader” for the New York Anarcho-Capitalist Meetup in New York, which describes its philosophy as “a type of radical libertarianism that favors the abundant wealth production, rapid technological development, and high standards of living produced by capitalism.”
Its website adds, “We are also fairly lazy about fighting the state.” It was at a crypto-anarchist lunch in 2010 that Breitman first met Kathleen McCaffrey, an American college student from New Jersey. She is described on a political blog called The Politicizer as a libertarian Republican who first became interested in politics after listening to the provocative radio personality Rush Limbaugh at the age of five. She married Breitman in 2013.
Kathleen Breitman, now 27, later worked at the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates and at R3, a blockchain company. In a July post on the conservative website legalinsurrection.com, she said she “didn’t get along” at the hedge fund but had “a great time” at R3.
Bridgewater didn’t respond to a request for comment. Arthur Breitman, 35, was an early fan of bitcoin, which first appeared around 2009. But he came to believe there were flaws in the blockchains behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, finding them hard to upgrade and not secure. He tried to come up with something better.
In the summer of 2014, while working at Morgan Stanley in quantitative finance, Breitman released two papers online that presented his concept for a new type of blockchain. He called it Tezos, a name his wife has said he coined after creating an algorithm that searched for the names of unclaimed websites pronounceable in English.
The papers were published under a pseudonym, “L. M Goodman,” but emails and messages from Arthur Breitman reviewed by Reuters make it clear he was the author.
In an email Breitman sent to an acquaintance in early 2015, he said he was seeking to create a business based on Tezos but was trying not to be associated publicly with the project at the time. He expressed worry that his activities might conflict with his employment at Morgan Stanley, messages show.
Reuters reviewed a copy of a “Tezos Business Plan” from early 2015, which listed Breitman as chief executive. The plan projected that if the company survived 15 years, it would be worth between $2 billion and $20 billion. The budget called for paying Breitman $212,180 in salary by year three. In August 2015, Breitman, who was still working at Morgan Stanley, set up a company in Delaware called Dynamic Ledger Solutions Inc, or DLS, to develop Tezos. He listed himself as chief executive.
The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires registered securities professionals to provide prior written notice to their employer to conduct outside business activities if there is “reasonable expectation of compensation.” According to FINRA records, Breitman was registered and did not report any “other business activities.” Morgan Stanley and FINRA declined to comment.
“We made all the proper disclosures,” Kathleen Breitman told Reuters in June. “It was a hobby, you know. And like there was never any intention to really commercialize any of the software.” She added: “We had some meetings with like C-suite executives at banks … but honestly nothing serious.”