Kraken CEO Jesse Powell is stepping down as CEO after founding the company, which is now the fourth largest cryptocurrency exchange by spot trading volume.
COO Dave Ripley will take over the reins from Powell, who will continue to serve as chairman of the company’s board. The transition will be completed in the coming months as the company searches for a suitable replacement for Ripley. Ripley and Powell will continue in their existing roles during the search.
Powell said Bloomberg that he announced his decision to retire from the board more than a year ago, citing boredom as the reason.
“As the company got bigger, it became more exhausting for me, less fun,” he explained.
The company culture will remain intact
After his departure from the top post, Powell, a public critic of crypto regulation, will spends his time advocating for the crypto industry.
“#YesPoS it seemed like less work. @krakenfx is in excellent hands @DavidLRipley. I will continue to be very engaged as president. A big thank you to the team for putting their trust in me, to our investors for taking a chance and to all my industry colleagues on the front lines,” he tweeted.
I’m talking to Fortune, Ripley confirmed that there will be little change in the company’s libertarian culture when he succeeds Powell.
Powell founded Kraken in San Francisco in 2011 with fellow board member Thanh Luu. Kraken became the second largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US during the last cryptocurrency market.
The outgoing CEO was a vocal opponent of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control’s decision to ban cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash and urged crypto investors to get their money off centralized exchanges after Canadian truckers protested the government’s vaccine mandate in February 2022. He also stopped Kraken’s business in New York after the New York Department of Financial Services required the company to comply with special regulations in order to continue operating.
Powell’s controversial company manifesto
Powell’s open leadership style has been in the headlines before this year when he questioned the choice of personal pronouns of certain employees, which caused a storm of criticism from employees who threatened to leave.
In June, the controversial CEO published and co-authored a document with Ripley about the company’s culture imbued with “libertarian philosophical values” in line with the so-called cypherpunk movement characteristic of early adopters and believers of bitcoin. Powell encouraged those who disagree with the document to opt for a program that offers them four months’ pay if they never work for the company again.
In retrospect, Powell believes the document rallied the troops, energized the company and made it a desirable place to work.
Going forward, in keeping with his libertarian views, he believes cryptocurrencies will continue to grow.
“The world is a changing place, and Bitcoin is an anti-fragile and safe haven from what’s happening in the legacy financial system,” he said.
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