After 11 Years, Jesse Powell is Stepping Down as Kraken's CEO
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After 11 Years, Jesse Powell is Stepping Down as Kraken's CEO

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2 months ago

All of this comes at a turbulent time for the crypto world, with fears that the bear market will worsen as the Fed continues to ratchet up interest rates.

After 11 Years, Jesse Powell is Stepping Down as Kraken's CEO

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Jesse Powell has announced that he's stepping down as CEO of Kraken.

It's a significant milestone for the crypto exchange, which he founded back in 2011.

Powell is set to remain active at the trading platform and will become its first president, with long-serving chief operating officer Dave Ripley set to succeed him as CEO.

All of this comes at a turbulent time for the crypto world, with fears that the bear market will worsen as the Fed continues to ratchet up interest rates. There are also real concerns that recessions in major economies could be just around the corner. Bitcoin recently sank to three-month lows — affecting the profitability of major exchanges.

After news of the sudden departure broke online, Kraken issued a press release to confirm a "leadership succession plan" was in motion. Powell said:

"Dave's proven leadership and experience give me great confidence that he's the ideal successor and the best person to lead Kraken through its next era of growth. I look forward to spending more of my time on the company's products, user experience and broader industry advocacy."

And Ripley suggested that he wasn't planning to rock the boat when he takes over, adding:

"My vision, along with the rest of the leadership team, is in lockstep with Jesse's — to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency."

An Unusual Leadership Style

Powell's approach to the high-pressured role of being a CEO has attracted scrutiny over the years.

Back in June, The New York Times wrote an article that revealed he had queried the use of preferred pronouns among employees — and said that questions about women's intelligence were "not as settled as one might have thought."

Employees told the newspaper that some found his comments to be hurtful and damaging to their mental health. Others said they were looking into quitting — and accused him of cultivating a hateful workplace.

He went on to rock the boat by releasing a 31-page culture document that championed Kraken's "libertarian philosophical values" — and those who disagreed with this approach were told they could walk out the door with four months of pay.

Just this week, Powell alluded to his unconventional management style with a Twitter poll where he asked:

"Remote work question: if you move to a low cost geo which is also high on predictable natural disasters, should you be offered support to navigate the disaster you got caught in, or should you be expected to use the money you saved and own the risk trade you made?"

In July, Kraken's business practices were thrown into the spotlight once more after it emerged that the U.S. had investigated the exchange for three years on suspicion of violating U.S. sanctions.

It was claimed that the trading platform had allowed users in Iran to buy and sell digital tokens — and internal conversations, once again obtained by the Times, suggested Powell said he was prepared to break the law if the potential benefits of doing so would outweigh fines.

What's more, the report suggests a spreadsheet was shared with employees that revealed 1,522 Kraken users were based in Iran. A further 149 lived in Syria and 83 in Cuba — both countries that are also subject to American sanctions.

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