CEO of Crypto Exchange Kraken Steps Down

Jesse Powell,

an early bitcoin backer and co-founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, plans to step down from his role as chief executive, the company said on Wednesday.

Dave Ripley,

the current chief operating officer, will succeed Mr. Powell.

Kraken’s largest shareholder, Mr. Powell will remain on the board as chairman. He plans to stay active in the company, spending his time on product development and industry advocacy.

Mr. Powell has been a vocal critic of government regulation of crypto. In 2015, instead of following regulations from New York’s Department of Financial Services, Kraken decided to stop operating in New York.

Kraken was founded in 2011, about two years after bitcoin’s launch. It is currently the fourth-largest crypto exchange measured by spot-trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap. Though it is incorporated in Delaware, the company’s largest markets are in Europe.

It was most recently valued at $10.8 billion, according to PitchBook, and has about 3,200 employees.

The company is in the midst of replacing a number of top executives and has been hiring even as others in the industry have resorted to layoffs.

In March, Kraken hired

Carrie Dolan

as chief financial officer. In April, it named

Mayur Gupta

its chief marketing officer. The company says it expects to hire a new chief compliance officer in the next few weeks.

It will begin searching for a new chief operating officer to succeed Mr. Ripley. Both Mr. Ripley and Mr. Powell will remain in their current jobs until that search concludes.

WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains why many investors are still betting on crypto, even with the very real threat of losing all their money. Illustration: Rami Abukalam

Write to Paul Vigna at

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