Kraken's Jesse Powell stepping down as CEO of crypto exchange

Quick Take

  • Jesse Powell is stepping down as CEO of crypto exchange Kraken.
  • David Ripley, Kraken’s COO, will take over as CEO.

Jesse Powell, chief executive of crypto exchange Kraken, is stepping down. 

David Ripley, currently serving as Kraken's chief operating officer, will take on the CEO role in the coming months. 

Powell will continue to serve as chairman of the board at the crypto exchange he co-founded in 2011, according to Fortune

“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 told Fortune.

A representative for Kraken did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During his 11 years at the helm, Powell helped grow Kraken to one of the world's largest crypto exchanges by market share. While overshadowed by Binance and Coinbase, Kraken saw over $160 billion in trading volume in the first and second quarters of 2021 alone, according to The Block Research.

However, neither Kraken nor Powell escaped controversy in that period, either. After two years of investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice hit Kraken with a fine in July for violating sanction laws by allowing individuals and Iran, Cuba and Syria to trade assets on its platform.


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Powell remained adamant that anyone anywhere should be able to trade cryptocurrencies — even when the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov called for crypto companies to halt crypto trades for Russian individuals at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Bitcoin is the embodiment of libertarian values, which strongly favor individualism and human rights,” Powell wrote on Twitter on Feb. 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 also had a history of controversial remarks both on social media and in company communications.

In June, the New York Times reported on the “corporate culture war” that Powell participated in, in which he debated the use of racial slurs, objected to the pronouns usage of employees and called American women “brainwashed” in the company's Slack channels.

A 31-page culture document affirmed the company’s “libertarian philosophical values,” stating that those who disagreed with these values could leave the company and take four months’ pay.

Powell called employees who spoke to reporters "triggered." "Most people don't care and just want to work, but they can't be productive while triggered people keep dragging them into debates and therapy sessions," he said at the time.

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