Major crypto exchange Kraken announced that co-founder Jesse Powell is stepping down from his position as CEO.
Powell co-founded the company back in 2011 with Thanh Luu, and is considered one of the pioneers in the space.
Per this announcement, COO Dave Ripley will succeed Powell, while the latter will become chairman of the board of directors. Ripley, however, will assume his new role as CEO after the exchange completes its search for a new COO.
Powell, on his part, said that he looks forward to spending more time “on the company’s products, user experience and broader industry advocacy.”
“As the company has gotten bigger, it’s just gotten to be more draining on me, less fun,” Powell was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “I still plan to stay very engaged with the company” as the largest shareholder and member of the board.
Per Bloomberg, Powell informed the company about his decision over a year ago.
He added in the press release that Ripley’s “proven leadership and experience” give the now-former CEO confidence that the new CEO is “the ideal successor and the best person to lead Kraken through its next era of growth.”
Ripley has been Kraken’s COO for six years, joining the exchange through its acquisition of Glidera, a crypto wallet funding service where he was co-founder and CEO. Kraken credits him with growing the exchange from 50 to over 3,000 workers, adding that, “under [his] guidance”, Kraken completed more than sixteen acquisitions and secured “a significant number” of global regulatory licenses and partnerships.
Meanwhile, news outlets, such as The New York Times and Bloomberg, have brought back into focus Powell’s disagreement with Kraken’s employees – specifically the conflict that arose this year around his gender- and race-related statements. The company shared a post on “Kraken Culture” as well, and after what he perceived to be a failed debate, Powell tweeted that Kraken is going “back to dictatorship.” Several employees left the firm at the time.
Powell was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that,
“My style is always to be very transparent and authentic. […] I think it’s worked out really well. We’ve had people who were not a great fit at the company, who were distraction, who are gone now. And then we’ve also attracted a lot of other people.“
Powell’s role change is not the only one following the recent crypto market crash. Among others, Alameda Research co-CEO Sam Trabucco stepped down from that role, staying on as an advisor, while MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor gave up his CEO title.
Powell also told Bloomberg that Kraken is “positioning itself to have the option of going public,” though no specific timeline was provided.
Since the year began, Kraken’s global market share among the top 15 exchanges has dropped by about 32%, per data provider CryptoCompare.
In July, it was reported that Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken sit in the top three spots for the second quarter of this year, according to the ranking by Paris-based data provider Kaiko.
Meanwhile, in late July, Kraken came under investigation as it was suspected of violating US sanctions by allowing users in Iran and elsewhere to buy and sell crypto, the New York Times reported at the time, citing undisclosed people affiliated with the company or with knowledge of the inquiry. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had been investigating Kraken since 2019 and was expected to impose a fine, per the report.
In August, it was reported that Kraken, Binance, Shapeshift, and Bittylicious caused an estimated 240,000 UK investors to lose GBP 9.9bn (USD 12bn) in total when these exchanges delisted bitcoin SV (BSV), according to Velitor Law, a law firm representing the investors. The claim was brought to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
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