Kraken CEO Jesse Powell leaves his position at the crypto exchange

    22 Sep 2022

    Jesse Powell, CEO of crypto exchange Kraken, is stepping down. David Ripley, currently serving as Kraken’s COO, will take his place in the coming months. Despite a history of controversial public remarks, Powell has denied that these controversies spurred his stepping down.

    As Fortune reported, Powell will continue to serve as chairman of the board at the cryptocurrency exchange he co-founded in 2011.

    “For me, this about spending more time on stuff which I’m good at and enjoy doing like working on product and industry advocacy stuff,” Powell explained to Fortune.

    Over 11 years as CEO, Powell helped grow Kraken to one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges in terms of market share. According to The Block Research, Kraken saw over $160 billion in trading volume in Q1 and Q2 of 2021 alone, surpassed only by Binance and Coinbase.

    On the other hand, Powell did not escape controversy during this period. This July, after two years of investigation, the US Department of Justice hit Kraken with a fine for violating sanction laws by allowing individuals and Iran, Cuba, and Syria to trade assets on its platform.

    Powell stands firmly that anyone anywhere should be able to trade crypto, even when the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov called for crypto exchanges to halt crypto trades for Russian individuals following the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    “Bitcoin is the embodiment of libertarian values, which strongly favor individualism and human rights,” Powell said on February 27. “Our mission at Kraken is to bridge individual humans out of the legacy financial system and bring them into the world of crypto, where arbitrary lines on maps no longer matter, where they don’t have to worry about being caught in broad, indiscriminate wealth confiscation.”

    Powell had a history of controversial remarks both on social media and in company communications as well. In June, Powell criticized a contingent of “woke activists” inside the company and told unhappy employees to quit, sparking a social-political debate that roiled the crypto industry and beyond.

    However, Powell has denied that these controversies spurred his decision to step down as CEO, telling Bloomberg that he informed Kraken’s board of his impending departure over a year ago.

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