Kraken CEO Jesse Powell hits out at 'triggered' employees

Kraken CEO Jesse Powell has hit out at a small group of employees employed at the cryptocurrency exchange for their lack of cultural fit with the company.

In an 11-post Twitter thread on Wednesday, Powell cited 20 people out of its 3,200 employees as being a "bad fit" for the company and noted that some had even spoken to journalists regarding the company's internal culture. 

"When things were rosy, everybody got along," he said. "When things started to look grim, sensitivities and the misalignment came through. People focused on minor slights, first world problems rather than our really big, important Mission to help billions of people." 

These problems according to Powell included the use of the N-word, the use of pronouns or lack thereof, and debates on whether differences in human sex exist. In particular, he derided the focus on these issues instead of concentrating on building out the company's products.

These internal debates in the company resulted in it issuing a statement emphasizing a "crypto-first culture". According to the Twitter post, employees were given the choice of committing to the company — whether they agreed or disagreed with the document — or leaving with severance pay.

The news comes as companies across the cryptocurrency space continue to slash employee numbers as the digital asset market wobbles. 

Yesterday, rival exchange Coinbase cut its workforce by about 18% to weather the downturn and more than 1,500 people have been laid off by crypto firms in the past two months. Previously, companies such as Robinhood, Crypto.com and Klarna announced that they were downsizing. 

Unlike other players in the exchange space, Kraken says it does not intend to make any layoffs and still has over 500 roles to fill. 

About Author

Tom is fintech reporter at The Block. Before joining the team, he was an editorial intern at the FT-backed platform Sifted where he reported on neobanks, payment firms and blockchain startups. Tom has a bachelors degree in International Relations and Japanese from SOAS, University of London.