Jesse Powell, now former CEO of Kraken, founded it in 2011, when there were very few crypto exchanges available in the market.
Jesse Powell has resigned as CEO of Kraken
#JesPoS seemed like less work. @krakenfx is in excellent hands with @DavidLRipley. I'll continue to be highly engaged as Chairman. Big thanks to the team for trusting me, our investors for taking a chance, and all my industry peers on the front lines. 🙇🏼♂️https://t.co/CtqlNsBoF6
— Jesse Powell (@jespow) September 21, 2022
He had previously worked for Mt.Gox, i.e., the largest and most important crypto exchange at the time, where he had been able to engage in particular with security issues. Mt.Gox was later forced to shut down in 2014 precisely because of security issues, while Kraken’s exchange went public in 2013.
According to CoinGecko’s data, although Kraken to this day is by far one of the most secure exchanges, it does not appear to be among the top 20 in the world by trading volumes, because in recent years it has been surpassed in this respect by many other exchanges. By volume it narrowly surpasses Binance.US, which is Binance’s exchange for the US market.
Similar to all exchanges, it lost volume in the 2022 bear market compared to the 2021 bullrun, to the extent that it dropped from about $2 billion daily to just over half a billion. The peak, however, was during the mid-May 2022 crash when it touched $3.4 billion in daily trading volume.
Powell’s decision appears to be personal
During an interview with Fortune, Powell said that he had grown tired of the long hours, his daily life, and the obligations of running the company.
He is in fact leaving only the position of CEO, while he will retain that of chairman and remain the company’s largest shareholder. He will be succeeded by the current COO (Chief Operating Officer), Dave Ripley, who has been with Kraken for many years now.
This will thus be a top management turnover in line with what Kraken has always been, and Powell will probably take some time off.
It is worth noting that over the years, Powell has attracted quite a bit of criticism for some of his countercultural and nonconformist remarks. It is not known whether this defiant attitude of Jesse Powell toward the company caused problems for Kraken, so it is difficult to know whether it may also have played a role in his decision to step down as CEO.
Kraken was once one of the big names on the US, and global, crypto scene, surpassed perhaps only by Coinbase, but over the years powerful new competitors have emerged in the US that have nibbled away significant market share from the San Francisco-based exchange. Most notably FTX, which by now has also caught up with and surpassed Coinbase.
Apart from the inevitable slump in volumes caused by the bear market, for Kraken this has not been a decline at all, but simply the overtaking by some more aggressive entities backed by more funding.
Nonetheless, Powell and Ripley said that Kraken‘s business is thriving, so much so that the company reportedly accumulated a lot of cash during last year’s bullrun. This cash will enable it to weather the current difficult time.
It therefore remains plausible that the motivation behind Powell’s departure is purely personal. After eleven years of hard work it is indeed imaginable that he felt like stepping down.
In fact, he stated to Fortune that he wants to devote more time to things that he enjoys more, such as promoting the exchange and the industry, confirming that he is looking forward to making up for what he has had to give up over the past 11 years.
Moreover, having no more limitations as a CEO of a prominent company, Powell will now also be able to return to his loud and nonconformist outbursts on his Twitter profile, without having to fear negative impacts on the company.
While his controversial streak seemed to have died down considerably in recent years, it may be rekindled now that he no longer has operational roles in Kraken’s management.
In fact, at a time when he declared that he wants to devote himself to promoting the industry, given that as far as Bitcoin is concerned he is an idealist, one can expect some revival of his aggressive communication campaign to defend this revolution.
For example, in December 2020, when the last big bullrun was starting, he wrote:
“I’m looking to borrow $100 trillion to buy Bitcoin.”
I’m looking to borrow $100 trillion to buy #bitcoin
— Jesse Powell (@jespow) December 7, 2020
Expect a much more confrontational Powell on social media compared to what he has been in recent years.