Kraken chief Jesse Powell steps down before possible stock market debut

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Jesse Powell is stepping down as chief exec of Kraken according to a video interview conducted with Bloomberg, stating that it had become “more draining… less fun.”

He intends to stay on as chairman of the board and is still the largest shareholder of Kraken. Powell will be succeeded by current Kraken chief operating officer Dave Ripley.

Powell joins several other Kraken employees who have stepped down recently — many employees found the culture under the chief exec to be a problem, citing concerns over racial slurs, transphobia, and sexist remarks. However, his successor Ripley reportedly helped form said culture as well.

In June, Powell took to Twitter to explain why running a “dictatorship” is his only option.

Read more: Kraken encourages employee anonymity to fight ransomware

Indeed, last year’s investigation by Protos into employee Glassdoor reviews revealed other questionable cultural practices. One current developer posted anonymously to say that during Bitcoin’s all-time-highs last year, Kraken’s management — including Powell — was raking in the cash. Yet unlike previous years, employees received “no bonuses, no raises, and really no employee recognition,” (our emphasis).

“This on top of incredibly low compensation […] has shown me just how little this company cares for their employees,” the review continued. “Employee retention is getting worse, motivation is low, burnout is high, and leadership behaviour as of late is only making things worse.”

Kraken has consistently attempted to discover the identities of the employees leaving anonymous reviews on Glassdoor and has filed lawsuits against several.

Powell leaves Kraken as it reportedly had plans to go public, though it’s unclear if that’s still a priority for them amidst the broader market struggles. In conversation with Bloomberg on Tuesday, Powell said the firm is still “positioning itself” for a stock market debut but was unable to provide a timeline.

Kraken is reportedly under US Treasury investigation for violating Iranian sanctions. Last year, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) found Kraken had failed to register as a Bitcoin futures merchant and was illegally selling crypto margin products. Kraken agreed to pay a $1.25 million fine.

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