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Building on Bitcoin with Shailee Adinolfi, Business Development Lead at Trust Machines

Trust Machines welcomes Shailee Adinolfi, our new Business Development Lead.
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We’re always looking for new Bitcoin builders who will take us to the next stage of Bitcoin’s evolution. That’s why we were thrilled to welcome Shailee Adinolfi to our team at the start of March as our Business Development Lead.

Before joining Trust Machines, Shailee held key positions at ConsenSys, serving as the Director of Business Development for MetaMask and Director of Strategic Sales. She will now oversee the rapid expansion of strategic partnerships for Trust Machines apps including Leather, the Bitcoin and Stacks wallet, and Orange Domains

In her new role as Business Development Lead for Trust Machines, Shailee will leverage her extensive experience to lead our core team’s business development strategies across all our Bitcoin apps. She will be focused on DeFi and consumer-facing growth campaigns, as well as nurturing key partnership opportunities within the web3 landscape.

We spoke to Shailee about being a crypto industry veteran and what brought her to the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Early Days in Crypto

Trust Machines: What motivated you to learn more about crypto?

Shailee: I spent about 10 years working on U.S. Agency for International Development projects. I did business development and project management primarily for financial and digital inclusion projects in emerging markets. I would help strengthen mobile money payment systems in regions like East Africa and South Asia by working with the ecosystem to give them grants to serve different types of markets that weren't being served, as well as work with policy makers to create policies for financial inclusion.

I went to over 30 countries, and so I've seen really challenging situations and how people transact with financial services using basic feature phones. Many of these people are not being served by traditional institutions. It was clear to me that there was a need for a global open source infrastructure for store of value and means of payments, and that was what led me to crypto. 

Trust Machines: How did you get your start in the industry?

Shailee: That would be when I met the CEO of the first company in crypto that I joined, Ashish Gadnis. He founded a company called BanQu Inc. and it was an Ethereum-based supply chain traceability and ESG data company. I joined BanQu mainly to champion financial inclusion around the world, and then I learned all about smart contracts. I left BanQu and went to Consensys, where I worked on growing wallet infrastructure and real world asset tokenization use cases. Then to XMTP, to grow web3 messaging, and now Trust Machines.

I actually learned about Bitcoin first and read the Bitcoin white paper, and then I got excited about Ethereum because of the programmability aspect. At the time, I felt that from a financial inclusion perspective, Bitcoin was already becoming too inaccessible.

Trust Machines: From your perspective, what made Ethereum more accessible than Bitcoin at the time?

Shailee: It mostly came down to programmability. One of the biggest challenges that I saw was that developers or communities in emerging markets didn't have the tools to build that infrastructure. I thought Ethereum's programmability would give them that toolset to quickly build decentralized finance applications and do more in their local communities.

But it's still early and we are seeing good signs of adoption. A report mentioned that in 2023, about 580 million people had been onboarded to crypto, even though there are still a good number of challenges to overcome. Some of those have been around interoperability, so things like fiat onboarding, on-ramps and off-ramps. There are still questions around policy in the United States, and many other countries still don't have, say, stablecoin regulations, and stablecoins are crucial for global remittances.

Future of Bitcoin

Trust Machines: What are some of the most encouraging signs that suggest we’re headed in a good direction?

Shailee: Of course, there’s the fact that spot Bitcoin ETFs managed to attract over $7 billion in inflows just a month after the SEC approval. I also want to highlight the growth of web3 social. Platforms like Farcaster,, Paragraph.XYZ, XMTP – all of them, I think, are early signs of what the creator economy could look like if creators were to own their audience, their data, and the rewards that come from what they're creating. 

However, we need to develop more scalable infrastructure for web3 social. I think now, there are different pieces of the stack and APIs that give developers flexibility to build what they need to. It's going to require that beautiful, large developer ecosystem that can leverage each other's work, through composable components, that makes all this happen. The Ethereum community has done that well at scale, and if we can bring those Ethereum devs over to help build on Bitcoin L1 and L2s, then the rising tide lifts all boats.

I do want to touch on remittances again. There's a need for those transactions to happen, and I think demand for those transactions will continue to grow.

Trust Machines: What do you make of today’s Bitcoin ecosystem?

Shailee: The community has been unwavering and the evolution is just getting started. Bitcoin has continued to grow and all the other chains have never quite caught up. The fact that it has stood the test of time even after the appearance of so many other chains has been amazing to see. 

Bitcoin is just getting started. It almost feels like circa 2017 for the Ethereum ecosystem, which is a wonderful place to be, except that Bitcoin also has a trillion dollars in capitalization. What is nice to see is the quickly growing developer community that is hungry for more. It has the best brand within crypto, period.

Trust Machines: As Trust Machines’ Business Development Lead, what kinds of partnerships do you value?

Shailee: The general criteria, for me, involves two things: how these partnerships align with our product strategy in the near and longer-term, and whether our partners are excited to work and grow alongside us. Partners with brand credibility, a good number of active users, and TVL are also nice to have. 

It's about building sustainably, and the ability to share data and align on learnings. Aligned incentives and growth goals are important, but is there also this appetite to learn together? In this space, we’re all still learning, which means that it is so important that we and our partners want to grow together.