The co-founder and CEO of one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken, Jesse Powell is stepping down.
An alumnus of California State University, Sacramento, Jesse founded Kraken 11 years ago with his partner, Thanh Luu. The cryptocurrency exchange grew quickly under Jesse and co, leading it to become among the first bitcoin exchanges to be listed on Bloomberg Terminal. As of Q2 2022, Kraken is reportedly valued at $11 billion USD.
Jesse cited the evolving company size as the main reason for him stepping down as it became more energy-draining and “less fun” to manage a company as such. His position is set to be replaced by the company’s long-time COO Dave Ripley while Jesse will transition to become the chairman of the board.
The major highlight of Jesse’s legacy with Kraken must have been the special purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter that was granted in Wyoming. Although such a charter is not a typical bank charter, it made Kraken the first verified cryptocurrency exchange to receive deposits and a specific service range that can usually be seen in conventional banking institutions.
Nonetheless, Jesse Powell’s character is nothing short of controversial. One evident moment was when he introduced a culture document that outlined the core of Kraken and its employees. Among many things mentioned, he refrained employees from labelling comments made by others as “Hateful, racist, toxic, etc.”. He also openly rejected the usage of preferred gender pronouns and made debatable comments on gender and ethnicity prior to the release of the statement.
Apart from his outspoken characteristics, Kraken was also investigated by the U.S. Treasury Department for violating the international sanctions against Iranian users from using the platform earlier this year.
One may find it easy to relate his stepping down with the controversies ignited, but he has iterated that the decision was made a year ago and he would like to shift his endeavour towards the other directions of the company.
How do you find Jesse Powell’s decision to step down as the CEO of Kraken?