“You’d think after 11 years, you could start feeling comfortable with your business, but it has basically been wartime in crypto since day one.”
In 2011, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell set out to build a crypto exchange that clients and regulators could trust. Despite headwinds and market uncertainties, Jesse has led Kraken through more than a decade of highs, lows, frenzies and FUD to establish Kraken as a leader in the cryptoasset industry.
Kraken Editor-at-large Pete Rizzo sat down with Jesse to mark Kraken’s 11th anniversary. Get a first-hand account of how Kraken charted our own path through the stormy crypto-market waters time after time — and learn where we’re headed next.
Building through bear markets
As we celebrate 11 years in the crypto space, Jesse reflected on Kraken’s early days and what it was like to build an industry in its infancy.
“We were building all this tech, and the crypto industry could’ve shut down at the time. It wasn’t thoroughly tested at that point and we didn’t know what regulators were going to do. We couldn’t even raise venture capital until 2014.”
Recognizing this uncertainty, Jesse set out to build Kraken as a safe haven for early crypto investors. With the motto security above everything, he earned trust with this single, uncompromising first priority: the safeguarding of client funds.
Kraken wasn’t just built on resilient, adaptable technology for an asset-agnostic environment. These same principles could easily be used to describe the company too. Kraken has remained dedicated to its mission: to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency so that you and the rest of the world can achieve financial freedom and inclusion… regardless of how long that takes or what challenges we face.
In 2011, Bitcoin went from $0.30 to $3 to $30 — and then back to $2. “It’s been a long road. I thought we’d all be using Bitcoin by now but it looks like crypto adoption is going to be like smartphone adoption,” Jesse said, reflecting on how both industries have matured and grown through similar innovation cycles and iterative generations.
Jesse added that Kraken is evaluating the acquisition of other exchanges and crypto platforms to accelerate our roadmap during this bear market, as we did during previous crypto winters. No stranger to mergers and acquisitions, Jesse expressed his interest in acquiring culturally similar companies with strong crypto values. He also spoke about the different characteristics that make Kraken the ideal environment for crypto-visionaries to continue building out their bleeding edge ideas.
Financial inclusion is our key motivator
Jesse discussed the unique features of crypto that help it empower some of the world’s most vulnerable people, and how Kraken continues to solidify its position at the forefront of this movement.
Jesse also highlighted the financial benefits of NFTs, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology for artists. By using NFTs to verify ownership, he described how artists can connect with their fans in unique ways and monetize their creations within the digital economy.
Kraken is proud to play a part at this exciting intersection between creativity and commerce. The upcoming launch of Kraken NFT marketplace will feature our industry-leading security, enabling more secure NFT custody with gas free trading on the platform.
Jesse also spoke about the transformative power of blockchain technology as it relates to individuals’ ability to gain access to information.
“Crypto is what the internet was to information. Before the internet, you had to go to the local library or use your own encyclopedias to find information. If you couldn’t do either, you just didn’t have access to information. I think a similar thing is starting to happen with money and cryptocurrencies. Crypto is giving unbanked individuals access to financial services they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
There is no shortage of work to be done while delivering on Kraken’s mission. Jesse detailed some of the ways Kraken is breaking down the barriers to adoption that will help further financial freedom and inclusion. He called on the industry to continue taking steps that empower individuals to buy and spend their cryptocurrency in order to support the mainstream adoption of crypto over the coming years.
Beyond some gaps in usability and accessibility, Jesse named FUD regarding Bitcoin’s energy consumption as one of the key hurdles to widespread adoption. While many continue to see Bitcoin as a strain on our energy supply, recent studies showed more than two-thirds of the Bitcoin Mining Council and over 59% of global BTC miners use a sustainable power mix, adding that the energy consumption critique is “thoroughly debunked at this point.”
As Kraken continues to build through the bear market, with over 500 roles to fill, Jesse is also focused on the future and accelerating Kraken’s progression of our mission. Jesse concluded: “I want to say a big thank you to the Krakenites, this would not be possible without all of you and we definitely couldn’t have done it with the small team we had 11 years ago. I also want to thank those who’ve been in crypto for a long time and rode out a few of these cycles, as well as those who are experiencing their first bear market, thank you for sticking it out with us.” Together, we look forward to what lies ahead.
Here’s to the next 11 years of Kraken!