Outspoken Kraken CEO Walks Away From Top Job, Calls It ‘Draining’
Kraken CEO Jesse Powell to step down as CEO after founding the company that is now the fourth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by spot trading volume.
COO Dave Ripley will take over the reins from Powell, who will continue as chairman of the company’s board. The transition will be finalized in the upcoming months as the company looks for a suitable replacement for Ripley. Ripley and Powell will continue to perform their existing functions during the search.
Powell told Bloomberg that he had announced his decision to step down to the board over a year ago, citing boredom.
“As the company has gotten bigger, it’s just gotten to be more draining on me, less fun,” he explained.
Company culture will remain intact
Following his exit from the top job, Powell, a public critic of crypto regulation, will spend his time on crypto industry advocacy.
“#JesPoS seemed like less work. @krakenfx is in excellent hands with @DavidLRipley. I’ll continue to be highly engaged as chairman. Big thanks to the team for trusting me, our investors for taking a chance, and all my industry peers on the front lines,” he tweeted.
Speaking with Fortune, Ripley confirmed that there would be little change in the company’s libertarian culture when he succeeds Powell.
Powell founded Kraken in San Francisco in 2011 with fellow board member Thanh Luu. Kraken became the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. during the last crypto bull market.
The outgoing CEO was a vocal opponent of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s decision to ban cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash and urged crypto investors to take their money off centralized exchanges following a Canadian trucker protest against government vaccine mandates in Feb. 2022. He also halted Kraken’s operations in New York after the New York Department of Financial Services required the company to comply with specific regulations to continue operations.
Powell’s controversial company manifesto
Powell’s outspoken leadership style made headlines earlier this year when he questioned certain employees’ choice of personal pronouns, igniting a firestorm of criticism from employees threatening to walk out.
In June, the controversial CEO published and co-authored with Ripley a company culture document drenched in “libertarian philosophical values” consistent with the so-called cypherpunk movement characteristic of early bitcoin adopters and believers. Powell encouraged those that disagreed with the document to opt into a program offering them four months’ salary if they never again worked at the company.
In hindsight, Powell believes that the document rallied the troops, galvanizing the company and making it a desirable workplace.
Going forward, consistent with his libertarian views, he believes that cryptocurrencies will continue to grow.
“The world is a changing place, and Bitcoin is anti-fragile and a safe haven from what’s happening in the legacy financial system,” he said.
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