Explained: The many chief execs resigning from crypto firms this year

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Top crypto firms have lost chief execs this year, amid a declining market and increased watchdog scrutiny. On Wednesday, both Celsius Network’s Alex Mashinsky and FTX.US president Brett Harrison resigned.

Kraken’s chief Jesse Powell stepped down last week; Alameda Research’s Sam Trabucco bowed out in August; so has Microstrategy chief Michael Saylor and Genesis’ Michael Moro.

Here’s a look at why they left.

Two chief execs leave on same day

On Tuesday, Celsius chief exec Alex Mashinsky announced his resignation, amid allegations of price manipulation and bankruptcy proceedings at the firm. He said his role as CEO had “become an increasing distraction.”

An hour later, FTX.US president Brett Harrison announced on Twitter he would soon resign, “move into an advisory role,” and remain in the industry. FTX.US is the American arm of Sam Bankman Fried’s FTX.

The following day, the Unsecured Creditor Committee (UCC) announced it had demanded Mashinsky’s step down from Celsius prior to him doing so.

  • The UCC had recently opened an independent probe into Celsius’s financial activities.
  • This approval came amidst accusations of Celsius manipulating the price of its CEL token.
  • Celsius is being sued by, and is simultaneously suing, one of its former traders, who claims the firm is a Ponzi scheme.

Celsius’s chief financial exec Chris Ferraro now serves as interim CEO.

Second Sam Bankman-Fried firm to lose a leader in past month

Crypto’s curly-haired billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried had to deal with another chief exec exodus a month ago. Alameda Research’s co-CEO Sam Trabucco announced he was stepping down on August 24.

Trabucco plans to stay on as an advisor but won’t have a “strong day-to-day presence” at the firm.

“I can’t personally continue to justify the time investment of being a central part of Alameda,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve reached a point in life where I have to prioritize other things.”

Trabucco said he would focus on other projects once he’s “recovered” — “I can’t 100% remove myself from crypto without going into withdrawal, so I’ll probably still be around here to some extent.”

Kraken’s chief exec stepped down last week

Crypto exchange Kraken lost its co-founder and CEO last week. He told Bloomberg in an interview the role had become “more draining… less fun.”

The chief exec will stay on the firm’s board and remains its largest shareholder. The announcement comes at a tricky time for Kraken — it’s currently under investigation by the US Treasury for potentially violating Iranian sanctions.

At the same time, Kraken is looking to go public this year. When Powell announced his resignation, he said it’s still “positioning itself” for a stock market debut. No timeline was provided.

Genesis and MicroStrategy lost CEOs in August, too

On August 17, Michael Moro announced he was leaving crypto brokerage Genesis. The firm was hit hard when Three Arrows Capital went bankrupt earlier this year.

Genesis also announced lay-offs — over 50 employees would be fired, or 20% of its workforce

“Since we launched the first OTC Bitcoin trading desk in 2013, sophisticated investors have come to Genesis to provide liquidity, lending, and custody services for their digital assets,” Moro said.

“It has been an honor to lead Genesis for nearly a decade and I look forward to supporting the company’s next phase of growth.”

Two weeks prior, MicroStrategy chief Michael Saylor shared the news of his resignation. During a disappointing Q2 earnings call, Saylor said he would become executive chairman in order to focus on “bitcoin advocacy and evangelism.” Microstrategy president Phong Le replaced him as CEO.

“As executive chairman I will be able to focus more on our bitcoin acquisition strategy and related bitcoin advocacy initiatives, while Phong will be empowered as CEO to manage overall corporate operations,” (our emphasis).

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