Oftentimes controversial co-founder, COO Dave Ripley will succeed Powell, COO Dave Ripley and take over as Chairman.
Outspoken and often controversial co-founder of Kraken crypto exchange Jesse Powell has said that he is stepping down as CEO to spend more time on the company’s products and advocate more broadly for the industry.
Powell, 42, who will be succeeded by COO Dave Ripley, 45, will become chairman of the board. The transition is expected to take place over the next few months once a new COO is selected.
“As the company has grown, it has become more draining for me, and less fun,” Powell said in a video interview on Tuesday. “I still plan to stay in touch with the company” as the largest shareholder and member of the board of directors.
Powell earlier this year encouraged any “awake” employees who can’t fit in with the company’s culture and values to leave. In July, The New York Times reported that Kraken was under investigation by the US Treasury Department for suspected violations of Iranian sanctions. Powell earlier declined to comment on the report.
Powell said he informed the board of his decision more than a year ago, and the company selected Ripley after considering outside candidates. Ripley, who has worked with Powell to shape Kraken’s corporate culture and strategy, said he expects to continue the company’s mission.
The change in leadership at Kraken comes as a string of crypto companies are making changes to the C group in the wake of the cryptocurrency market crash. Last month, the CEO of crypto-broking firm Genesis, Michael Morrow, and Alameda Research’s co-CEO, Sam Trabucco, resigned. MicroStrategy Inc’s longtime CEO Michael Saylor has stepped down after the software maker reported a quarterly loss of more than $1 billion related to the bitcoin price drop.
Being a Bitcoin pioneer and majoring in philosophy at California State University, Powell founded Kraken in 2011 with the goal of creating a secure exchange, an idea that took off after the hack of then-industry leader Mt. Gox several years later.
Over the years, Kraken has grown into one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States and ranked fourth among global exchanges as of Wednesday, according to data from CoinMarketCap. However, the current “crypto winter” has affected the industry as a whole. Kraken’s share of the global market among the 15 largest exchanges is down about 32% since the beginning of the year, according to data provider CryptoCompare.
The first remote company, Kraken, closed its San Francisco headquarters this year. The company has more than 3,300 employees globally.
“My style should always be very transparent and original,” Powell said. “I think it worked really well. We had people who weren’t quite a good fit in the company, and they were a distraction, and now they’re gone. And then we also attract a lot of other people.”
Backed by major crypto venture capital firms such as Tribe Capital and Electric Capital, Kraken has developed plans to go public. The company held talks last year to raise more than $10 billion in funds. Powell told Bloomberg on Tuesday that the company is preparing for an IPO option, but it can’t provide a specific timeline for when that might happen. Ripley added that it does not currently have any active fundraising plans.
Last year, the company was fined $1.25 million by the CFTC for providing illicit cryptocurrency products to US residents.
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