The mass exodus started in 2022 when the cryptocurrency market started to fall. In 2022, a number of well-known CEOs left their positions as the heads of crypto-focused companies, including Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX, Alex Mashinsky of Celsius, Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy, and Jesse Powell of Kraken.
Different people describe different reasons for leaving their positions, such as their company going bankrupt, the cryptocurrency market’s volatility, or the corporation entering a new phase.
As a result of the fall of Terra, other businesses, including Three Arrows Capital, Voyager Digital, and FTX, went bankrupt and discontinued operations.
The leadership at other organizations started to crumble like dominoes but Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon refused to step down or quit and instead fled abroad. Here is a list of some of the greatest exits from this year in chronological order.
Whitney Gibbs, CEO of Compass Mining
As the cryptocurrency market collapsed in June, Compass Mining experienced its first significant change when co-founder and CEO Whitney “Whit” Gibbs and Chief Finance Officer Jodie Fisher announced their resignations.
Compass had drawn criticism for not paying the hosting and power fees associated with a facility in Maine owned by Dynamics Mining. Dynamics tweeted to Compass in June, “All you [had] to [do] was pay $250k for 3 months of power use.”
The company stated in response to the resignations that
Compass Mining was intended to make mining easy and accessible. We acknowledge that that ambition has been hampered by several failures and disappointments.
CEO of Algorand Steven Kokinos
Algorand CEO Steven Kokinos left the business that created the layer-1 blockchain platform of the same name in July, citing a desire to pursue “other interests.” Sean Ford, the COO of Algorand, was promoted to serve as the company’s interim CEO after luring organizations like FIFA and Napster to build on its platform.
Kokinos, who will continue to work with Algorand as a senior advisor through mid-2023, is staying close to home. He stated that he intended to collaborate more directly with initiatives that are utilizing the platform.
Michael Moro, CEO of Genesis Trading
Crypto broker Genesis suffered several setbacks in 2022, including being the $2.36 billion largest creditor of the defunct Three Arrows Capital and being harmed by FTX’s failure. Following the Three Arrows revelations in August, CEO Michael Moro resigned.
Upon hearing the news, Moro remarked, “It has been an honor to lead Genesis for nearly ten years, and I look forward to supporting the company’s next chapter of growth.” He said that he would provide guidance to the company during the transition.
At the same time, Genesis announced a 20% personnel reduction and appointed COO Derar Islim as interim CEO. Due to the effects of the FTX collapse, Genesis Trading stopped all withdrawals from its lending arm in November. According to reports, Genesis is owned by the Digital Currency Group and owes Gemini Earn clients over $900 million in addition to other debts.
Sam Trabucco, co-CEO of Alameda Research
Sam Trabucco, co-CEO of Alameda Research, resigned in August, citing a need for relaxation. Caroline Ellison, co-CEO of Trabucco, remained Alameda’s only CEO up until the company filed for bankruptcy alongside FTX in November.
Trabucco explained his decision to leave Alameda by saying, “I personally can’t continue to justify the time commitment of being a vital part of Alameda.” Spending a “regular” amount of time at work is challenging—especially if you’re attempting to be a leader—because everyone here works really hard.
Of course, with hindsight comes questions about Trabucco’s knowledge of Alameda’s trading losses this summer and the use of FTX client funds to assist close the hole in its balance sheet.
Last year, when @SBF_FTX announced that Caroline and I were Alameda’s co-CEOs, the goal for all involved was to bring titles in line with reality — the two of us had been acting as CEOs for quite some time, and we wanted our outside image to reflect that.
— Sam Trabucco (@AlamedaTrabucco) August 24, 2022
Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy
In August, prolific Bitcoiner Michael Saylor also resigned as CEO of cloud computing firm MicroStrategy. Saylor no longer serves as CEO of the firm he co-founded in 1989, although he does serve in a leadership capacity as executive chairman.
Although cryptocurrency-related services are not MicroStrategy’s primary emphasis, the company has quickly earned a reputation for having the greatest Bitcoin holdings of any publicly traded corporation. MicroStrategy stated that as of December 28 it possessed around 132,500 BTC, which is equivalent to $2.2 billion in today’s value. But since 2020, the corporation has spent almost $4 billion buying that BTC.
Saylor stated that he will continue to oversee its “bitcoin acquisition strategy” when the change was announced in August. He continued,
My goal is advocating for and educating people about bitcoin, like through the Bitcoin Mining Council, and serving as a spokesperson and envoy to the worldwide bitcoin community
President of FTX USA Brett Harrison
Brett Harrison, the president of FTX US, abruptly resigned in September to take on an advising role with the company. Harrison tweeted his resignation and stated that he will continue to work in the cryptocurrency sector.
In his post, he stated, “I’m staying in the business with the aim of reducing technological hurdles to full participation in and maturation of global crypto markets, both centralized and decentralized.
1/ An announcement: I’m stepping down as President of @FTX_Official. Over the next few months I’ll be transferring my responsibilities and moving into an advisory role at the company.
— Brett Harrison (@BrettHarrison88) September 27, 2022
He tried to sound upbeat, saying,”Until then, I’ll be helping Sam [Bankman-Fried] and the team with this transition to guarantee FTX concludes the year with all its trademark momentum.” FTX, who has asserted that it is distinct from FTX US, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, despite Harrison’s confidence.
Harrison tweeted that he “had no personal experience with destructive, consequential treachery in my life until lately” when he commented on the FTX controversy in mid-December without specifically referencing his former company.
He continued, “I can only pray God that kind of unhealthy, corrupting greed will never be anything I know or recognize in myself. It is venomous and evil. Harrison also expressed his excitement for the launch of his new business and his commitment to the sector.
CEO of Kraken, Jesse Powell
Jesse Powell, the CEO of Kraken, resigned in September. Powell claimed that as Kraken grew, managing the business became “less fun” and more of a burden. He stated his intention to continue working with the business he started in 2011.
When it took a strong stand against what was characterized as “anti-woke” sentiment in June and urged personnel to concentrate on cryptocurrency rather than cultural and diversity issues, Kraken sparked controversy. Powell proposed that any employees “triggered” by the mandate should leave the company in a hotly contested Twitter thread.
Kraken said in November that it would lay off some 1,100 workers, or 30% of its workforce, citing general economic concerns and the effects of the ongoing crypto bear market.
9/ Most people don’t care and just want to work, but they can’t be productive while triggered people keep dragging them in to debates and therapy sessions. The answer for us was to just lay out the culture doc and say: agree and commit, disagree and commit, or take the cash✌️
— Jesse Powell (@jespow) June 15, 2022
CEO of Celsius, Alex Mashinsky
In September, the CEO of the insolvent cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network, Alex Mashinsky, announced his resignation.
In a statement, Mashinsky stated, “I opted to resign my job as CEO of Celsius Network today. However, as I have been doing since the company filed for bankruptcy, I will keep working to help the community come together behind a plan that would give the best outcome for all creditors.
In his letter of resignation, Mashinsky expressed regret for the “tough financial circumstances” the Celsius community was experiencing and that his prolonged employment as CEO had become an increasing distraction. Two months after Celsius filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Mashinsky resigned.
Moments ago, @CelsiusNetwork filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 protection and announced that the company initiated a financial restructuring. https://t.co/vf5wsT6TMp
— Celsius (@CelsiusNetwork) July 14, 2022
After halting all customer withdrawals in June due to liquidity challenges, Celsius’ problems started. Regulators in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington started looking into the corporation as a result of this disclosure.
Daniel Leon, a co-founder of Celsius, left his position as chief strategy officer of the troubled business in September. While Mashinsky took $10 million out of the company’s account in May before the platform stopped allowing user withdrawals, Leon left with 32,600 shares of Celsius stock that he had acquired in February 2018 together with dividends, according to the Financial Times.
The CEO of Parity Technologies, Gavin Wood
In October, Gavin Wood, a co-founder of Ethereum and the CEO of Polkadot manufacturer Parity Technologies, announced his resignation. Wood is still Parity’s biggest shareholder and chief architect while leaving the CEO post.
Bloomberg claims that Wood made the decision to resign because his capacity to pursue “ultimate bliss” has been hampered by his role as CEO. The DOT cryptocurrency from Polkadot is already down 92% from its highest price in November 2021, outperforming other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum in that regard.
Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX
Sam Bankman-Fried, a former crypto star, resigned from his position as CEO of FTX on November 11 as the business filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Nearly a week after Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said on Twitter that the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world would liquidate all of its holdings in FTX’s FTT token, Bankman-Fried announced his resignation. Days later, Binance announced that it would not proceed with the acquisition of FTX despite having signed a non-binding letter of intent to do so in the midst of the ensuing liquidity crisis. In 2019, Binance was a pioneering investment in FTX.
As a result of corporate due diligence, as well as the latest news reports regarding mishandled customer funds and alleged US agency investigations, we have decided that we will not pursue the potential acquisition of https://t.co/FQ3MIG381f.
— Binance (@binance) November 9, 2022
Bankman-Fried has been separated from FTX by its new CEO John J. Ray III, who was appointed to help handle the bankruptcy process. Bankman-Fried no longer represents the organization and plays no active role, according to Ray.
Since then, Bankman-Fried has been detained and charged by both the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. federal prosecutors. He has also been sued with FTX and Alameda by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). He was just freed on a $250 million bond after being extradited from the Bahamas to the United States.
Caroline Ellison, CEO of Alameda Research
After Sam Trabucco’s retirement from Alameda Research in August, Caroline Ellison remained as the company’s CEO until FTX and a number of its subsidiaries, including Alameda, filed for bankruptcy in November.
In addition to the dubious business activities of Alameda Research and FTX, Ellison came under media investigation for a Tumblr blog that discussed polyamorous relationship dynamics and Race Science. In addition to being an instance of nepotism, her association with Bankman-Fried has drawn attention because it raises the possibility that Ellison was complicit in FTX’s alleged financial wrongdoings.
Since then, she has turned on her former lover and ally, confessing to charges brought by the SEC and federal prosecutors alike and promising to cooperate and disclose details about any alleged wrongdoing by Bankman-Fried and his firms. According to reports, Ellison admitted to the judge that she understood her actions at Alameda were both improper and unlawful.
CEO of Yuga Labs Nicole Muniz
The final CEO action on our list is noticeably underwhelming in comparison to the very dramatic entries above. Yuga Labs’ initial CEO Nicole Muniz said that she will step down from her position in the first half of 2023 to make room for Daniel Alegre, who will take over as CEO. Nicole Muniz founded Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Alegre came after serving as Activision Blizzard’s President and COO, the gaming behemoth that created games like Candy Crush Saga and Call of Duty. The action served as a symbol of Yuga’s expanding support for Web3 gaming with Otherside. After the transfer is complete, Muniz will continue to serve as a partner and advisor. At a $4 billion value, Yuga Labs received $450 million in March.
In a statement, she added,
I am happy that we found Daniel to carry up the momentum and lend his gaming knowledge to enormously ambitious projects like Otherside.
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