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Jesse Powell, CEO of Cryptocurrency Exchange Kraken, Retires

Jesse Powell, one of the founders of cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, will step down as CEO.

Powell will be replaced by Dave Ripley, the chief operating officer, Kraken said on Wednesday. The transition will take place in the coming months after the company finds a replacement for Mr. Ripley. Mr. Powell will remain with Kraken as Chairman.

An early Bitcoin entrepreneur, Mr. Powell was embroiled in a conflict with Kraken employees after he posted inflammatory messages about race and gender on the company’s Slack earlier this year. He urged those who disagreed with his values ​​to leave the company. Some did.

Kraken also faces an investigation by the Treasury Department for possible violations of US sanctions. The department is expected to fine Kraken, The New York Times reported in July.

In a blog postKraken said Mr Ripley, who joined the company after it acquired his startup in 2016, was chosen after a “rigorous internal and external search” over the past year. Powell planned to spend more time focusing on “the company’s products, user experience and broader industry advocacy,” the company said.

Mr. Powell and Thanh Luu founded Kraken in 2011 as one of the first major exchanges for investors to buy and sell digital assets. Kraken was eventually overtaken by Coinbase and now ranks as the second largest exchange in the United States, according to CoinMarketCap, an industry data tracker. Last year, Mr Powell said was considering taking the company public.

The conflict at Kraken began this spring after Mr. Powell questioned employees’ use of preferred pronouns and engaged in a lengthy discussion about whether women are inherently less intelligent than men.

Some employees raised complaints, and Powell released a company culture document outlining what he described as Kraken’s libertarian values. He told the employees that if they didn’t agree with the document, they should resign. In response to a report by The Times about Kraken’s internal conflict, he tweeted in June that he was returning the company “back to the dictatorship”.



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