Kraken CEO Jesse Powell explains why he quit

Good morning! This Friday, Protocol Fintech reporter Ben Pimentel spoke with Kraken’s Jesse Powell about his departure as CEO.

Kraken CEO passes the baton

It’s been a rough year for Kraken and crypto in general. But CEO Jesse Powell said he was leaving because there were too many things he didn’t like about the job.

Powell does not consider himself “an incredible manager”, he told my colleague Ben Pimentel in an interview yesterday. COO David Ripley will replace him.

  • “I really enjoy working as an individual contributor more, like getting into the weeds on products,” Powell told Ben.
  • Powell said he wasn’t interested in overseeing certain tasks as CEO, such as guiding Kraken to an IPO. “I’m much more like a zero-to-one guy,” he said.
  • Powel was heated earlier this year by allegations of insensitive comments, then hit back at employees by declaring “Back to dictatorship” in a tweet and urging employees uncomfortable with company culture to ” go jet skiing” in their future with four months of salary. He said he had no intention of riding a “jet ski” himself. He remains on the board of Kraken.

Powell said he wanted to focus on advocacy work, adding that there are a lot of “bad proposals” coming from lawmakers.

  • “There is language and legislation that are sort of indirect attacks on crypto,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s done intentionally, or if the authors of the legislation really don’t understand what the language implications are.”
  • Powell acknowledged that crypto is a national security and national economy issue, but said “it would be a disaster if we created laws that basically forced all bitcoin companies to go overseas.”

-Sarah Roach

Do you need a virtual assistant?

Maybe! The popularity of VAs has increased dramatically over the past two years. And we’re not talking about virtual assistant technology; we are talking about real people.

Who needs a virtual assistant the most? Laith Masarweh, who founded and runs virtual assistant company Assistantly, told me people who are just starting their businesses — or what he called “solo takers” — most often need them. .

  • Tons of companies that have laid off employees in recent months have also brought in VAs to offset the workload of their existing employees, Masarweh said.
  • Masarweh said those who don’t have the resources to hire full-time staff should look to VAs. “The knowledge and quality of these virtual assistants is high,” he said. “They can get the ball rolling after two weeks or sooner to start with everything you need.”

And what can they do for you? Masarweh broke down the responsibilities of virtual assistants into about five different categories: administrative operations, sales, marketing, social media, and other “niche” areas of expertise.

  • You can hire one to take care of anything, really, like managing calendars and executive-level tasks. Masarweh has 15 VAs who help with tasks ranging from sales to operations.
  • Masarweh said VAs also have the potential to become full-time employees down the line. The person he hired to help with recruiting eventually became his customer success manager and then his COO. “And he could be the CEO of the company,” he added. “I would have no problem with him doing that.”

Masarweh added that if you’re going to hire a VA, be sure to treat them as part of the team. “I hire like I’m hiring an employee,” he said.

-Sarah Roach

The housing problem in LA

LA is quickly becoming a major technology hub. And just like in Silicon Valley, there is a severe housing shortage.

LA’s housing is growing more slowly than its population. According to the 2020 Regional Housing Needs Assessment, LA needs to build 457,000 homes by 2028 to meet demand. But the city is expected to build just under 231,000 during this period.

  • The flood of tech workers can exacerbate the problem. Six-figure tech salaries far exceed household income in the county, which is about $71,000, giving tech workers an edge in rental markets.
  • Major liquidity events, such as a company’s acquisition or IPO, allow tech workers to make large down payments or make cash offers. It gives them the upper hand in buying a home, Matt Canzoneri, CEO and co-founder of proptech platform DwellWell, told me.

Technology provides unconventional solutions. Manufactured housing, both for homes and secondary suites, can speed up production and increase the number of housing units without taking up space for massive construction projects.

  • This, however, must go hand in hand with better zoning laws. “At its core, it’s really a zoning issue,” said Colin Jube, CEO of ADU Modal Living.

More single-family zoning means fewer housing units per square mile. A study released in March by UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute found that 78% of residential land in Los Angeles is zoned for single-family dwellings. In the Bay Area, for reference, 85% of all residential land is zoned single-family.

  • LA’s housing component could rezone up to 1.4 million new housing units, LA city planner Matthew Glesne said.
  • Two bills were also backed by state lawmakers this summer to spur residential construction by allowing real estate developers to build on commercial land.

But the city has a long way to go. “We have the second fewest homes per adult of any major city in the country,” Glesne said. And as demand continues to grow, that will have to change quickly.

— Nat Rubio-Light


With a tough economy and high inflation, cash flow is essential. Check out our exclusive report in partnership with Wakefield to find out what’s really slowing down cash flow and what you can do about it.

Learn more

People are talking

Marc Benioff said that Salesforce will continue to make acquisitions:

  • “We bought 60 companies – we will always buy companies.”

Nick Clegg said that Meta was considering letting Donald Trump return to Facebook:

  • “When you make a decision that affects the public domain, you have to act very carefully. You shouldn’t shed your weight.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is pretty sure the Activision Blizzard deal will happen:

  • “Of course, any acquisition of this size will go through intense scrutiny, but we are very, very confident that we will come out on top.

make moves

Manesh Mahatme left WhatsApp for Amazon, where he previously worked, a source told Moneycontrol. Mahatme ran WhatsApp’s payment business in India.

Bhrighu Sareen joined Highspot as President of Products and Engineering. Sareen is the former CVP of Microsoft Teams.

Assaf Ronen is Payoneer’s first Platform Director. Ronen was previously CPO of SoFi and previously led Amazon’s Alexa shopping group.

Gregory Andre and Albert Alabau joined Rossum as Chief Financial Officer and Director of Human Resources, respectively. Andre previously held the same position at Talkwalker, and Alabau is from Typeform.

Andrew Yolin is Landa’s new CMO. He previously held the same position at TD Ameritrade.

Allan Thygesen is the new CEO of DocuSign. Thygesen worked at Google for over a decade and most recently served as President of Americas and Global Partners.

Charlie Collier leaves Fox for Roku, where he will oversee advertising sales and programming. Collier had helped Fox rebuild its entertainment offerings.

In other news

Lawmakers want Starlink to operate in Iran, where internet access is closed in areas where protests are taking place. Starlink may apply for a license to offer services there.

It’s a big day for Apple TV+. It has exclusive broadcast rights to the Red Sox playing the Yankees today, and the game could test the streaming service’s success with live sports. (edited)

Two Facebook users sue Meta for alleged unauthorized data collection. Meta denied the allegations.

Coinbase entered the Netherlands after obtaining approval from its central bank. The crypto exchange has been trying to expand in Europe for months.

Tesla has recalled over a million cars for fear that its windows might pinch passengers when they close. There have been no reported accidents or injuries related to this issue.

Amazon has hired trucking companies that are more dangerous than others, The Wall Street Journal reported. Drivers carrying Amazon freight were found to be twice as likely to receive unsafe driving scores as their peers.

Frances Haugen started a non-profit association called “Beyond the Screen,” which involves an open-source database of the ways technology fails in “legal and ethical obligations to society.”

Businesses Turn to Snowflake for their data-centric cybersecurity needs.

What does Wikimedia look like?

Wikimedia wants people to decide its signature sound, which it calls the sound of all human knowledge (dramatic, which we love). It’s accepting submissions through October 10 for sounds that “capture the essence of everything Wikimedia stands for.” The winner will receive a trip to a recording studio to produce the final sound logo as well as a cash prize.


With a tough economy and high inflation, cash flow is essential. Check out our exclusive report in partnership with Wakefield to find out what’s really slowing down cash flow and what you can do about it.

Learn more

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