Crypto CEOs are leaving their jobs. Here’s why

Crypto CEOs are leaving their jobs.  Here’s why

Hello, welcome back to Distributed Ledger, our weekly crypto newsletter that hits your inbox every Thursday. I’m Frances Yue, crypto reporter at MarketWatch. I’ll be walking you through the latest and greatest in the digital resource world this week.

Over the past few weeks, CEOs of several major crypto companies have left their positions. I caught up with RA Farrokhnia, a professor at Columbia Business School to discuss the reasons behind such moves.

Find me on Twitter at @FrancesYue_ to send feedback, or tell us what you think we should cover. You can also reach me via email to share your personal crypto stories.

Crypto in a flash

Bitcoin BTCUSD,
fell about 5.6% over the past seven days, trading at about $19,159 on Thursday, according to CoinDesk data. Ether ETHUSD,
lost 18% over the seven-day stretch to around $1,306. Meme token Dogecoin DOGEUSD,
tank 2.8% while another dog-themed token, Shiba Inu SHIBUSD,
traded 8% lower from seven days ago.

Crypto metrics
Biggest winners


%7-day return




Tokenize Xchange






XDC network






Source: CoinGecko per 29 September

Biggest losers


%7-day return




Lido DAO












Source: CoinGecko as of September 29

Exodus of crypto bosses

The crypto sector has seen an exodus of CEOs from large companies, as the decline in valuations this year hooked the industry.

In early August, Michael Saylor dropped the CEO title of MicroStrategy and took on a new role as executive chairman. In the same month, Michael Moro left the CEO of crypto lender Genesis, after parent company Digital Currency Group filed a $1.2 billion claim against bankrupt digital hedge fund Three Arrows. Meanwhile, Sam Trabucco resigned as co-CEO of Alameda Research, crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund.

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Earlier this month, Jesse Powell, co-founder of crypto exchange Kraken, stepped down as the company’s CEO.

On Tuesday, Alex Mashinsky, CEO of crypto lender Celsius, stepped down from his position amid the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. That same day, Brett Harrison, president of FTX US, said he is leaving the role.

The reasons behind the movements can vary, with each company in a different position during the market downturn. Bankman-Fried’s FTX and Alameda have aggressively acquired several distressed crypto companies and assets, while some others, such as Celsius, filed for bankruptcy.

Still, a shakeout of C-suites on such a scale reflected changes in the overall crypto industry.

First come the market conditions. For C-suite members who took the reins a year or two ago, when digital assets were on a bull run, they now face different challenges, as bitcoin has lost nearly 60% of its value so far this year.

“Obviously, things get a little more difficult in the downturn. You need a different kind of management mindset, to weather the storm and a number of crypto companies are going through the experience in a very different way,” noted Farrokhnia.

Meanwhile, the crypto industry, born in 2009, has become more developed, with increasing institutional adoption and also regulatory attention. “It requires a different level of professionalism and maturity in senior management,” Farrokhnia noted. Some early adopters of crypto, who hold strong libertarian values, may have found their views clashing with newcomers.

Furthermore, the complexity of the crypto space contributed to the difficulty of finding new leaders outside the industry. That explained why successors are in most cases insiders in the companies, Farrokhnia said.

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Ethereum’s ‘vanity address’ hack

About $950,000 in crypto was stolen on September 25 in an attack using a vanity address generator called Profanity, according to blockchain security firm PeckShield.

A “vanity address” is a personal cryptocurrency address created by users. Since such addresses are human-made, rather than being a random string of letters and numbers created by a machine, they are more vulnerable to brute force attacks.

The hackers took a total of 732 ether on September 25 before moving the funds to US government-sanctioned crypto mixer Tornado Cash, according to a tweet from blockchain security company PeckShield.

The attack is similar to a recent $160 million attack on Wintermute, a major crypto market maker.

MarketWatch’s Anushree Dave wrote more about it here.

Crypto companies, funds

Shares of Coinbase Global Inc. COIN,
plunged 9% to $61.27 on Thursday, and was down 2.7% over the last five trading sessions. Michael Saylor’s Micro strategy Inc.
shares fell 4.8% on Thursday to $209.90, while they are up 9% in the past five days.

Mining company Riot Blockchain Inc. RIOT,
shares fell 4.3% to $7.03 on Thursday and were up 10.8% over the past five days. Shares of Marathon Digital Holdings Inc.
fell 2.5% to $10.68, while up 1.2% in the past five days. Another miner, Ebang International Holdings Inc. EBONY,
saw shares up 0.8% to $0.40 on Thursday, while falling 0.4% over the past five days. Inc.
shares fell 2% to $24.54. Shares traded 2.9% higher during the five-up period.

Shares of Block Inc.
formerly known as Square, fell 5.5% to $55.85 and was down 0.2% for the week. Tesla Inc. TSLA,
shares fell 6.7% to $268.59, down 6.9% in the past five days.

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PayPal Holdings Inc.
decreased 2.8% to $88.55, with a gain of 0.9% in five sessions. Nvidia Corp.
shares fell 4.5% to $121.65, on top of a 3.1% loss in the past week.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
shares fell 6.5% to $63.77 on Thursday, down 8% from five trading days ago.

Among crypto funds, ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF
lost 0.5% to $11.99 on Thursday, while its Short Bitcoin Strategy ETF
added 0.8% to $38.34. Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF
traded 1.1% lower at $7.44, while VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF
cut 1.4% to $18.82.

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust
retreated 2.3% to $11.42.

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