Jesse Powell Steps Down as Kraken CEO

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  • Jesse Powell will step down as Kraken CEO after 11 years
  • Powell helped launch the exchange in 2011 and has run it ever since
  • COO Dave Ripley will succeed him, suggesting a more corporate image for the company

Long time Bitcoin supporter and Kraken co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell is to step aside after 11 years at the helm of the exchange. Kraken announced the news yesterday, with COO Dave Ripley succeeding him. Powell will become chairman of the board of directors, meaning he will still have some influence over the company, which has come in for criticism over the way it has bent broken the rules over access to its platform. The announcement stated that the search for a new CEO had been going on “over the past year”, suggesting Powell planned to move aside some time ago.

A Contentious Figure

Powell has always been a contentious figure within the Bitcoin world, taking a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to running Kraken, resulting in some team members essentially being forced out recently because they didn’t share his political opinions.

The exchange itself has also come in for criticism, and legal action, in recent years – in September last year it was fined $1.25 million for offering margin trading options to U.S. users, and just two months ago it was revealed that the exchange has been under investigation from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since 2019 over offering its services to Iranian nationals in breach of sanctions.

In September 2020 the exchange also lost a lawsuit against a former employee who claimed that during his employment he was ordered by superiors to serve customers in sanctioned regions, maintain bank balances that were millions short in customer deposits, and change the terms of employee stock options without informing them.

A More Corporate Kraken?

Powell is in many ways a throwback to the cavalier days of Bitcoin, a swashbuckling anti-government type who sees Bitcoin as a middle finger to the establishment. However, the crypto space has moved on since the days of Kraken’s founding, and a more corporate image is probably needed to fit in with where Bitcoin and crypto is headed.

In this respect, Ripley seems to be a good fit and may guide Kraken more towards the shores that Powell has been furiously rowing against for the past 11 years.