Kraken may need to stop 1,100 employees leaving poor reviews
Kraken could have a problem on its hands. When the crypto exchange quietly cut 50 people in 2019, several of them took to Glassdoor to complain about what it was like to work there. “I personally had a deep sense of trepidation much of the time,” declared one. Miffed that around ten of its ex-employees in total appeared to be publicly complaining about their former jobs, Kraken swiftly filed a lawsuit saying they'd breached severance agreements not to disparage the firm and then tried to find out who they were.
That was then. It's not clear what happened to Kraken's efforts to out its detractors, but given that the exchange has just cut 30% of its staff, or 1,100 people, past-experience suggests that at least 200 of them might soon write about why they disliked working there.
It's not clear whether Kraken will take further action if they do. Like most crypto firms that cut staff, Kraken says the cuts are painful. It's been one of the "hardest decisions," says co-founder Jesse Powell in a business update today, adding that he's still very bullish and that today's cuts will make the business sustainable over time. "Krakenites" who lose their jobs will get 16 weeks' base pay, four weeks' healthcare, a potential performance bonus and an extended window for exercising their options, among other things. It's not clear whether all of this is contingent on leaving good reviews.
41-year-old Powell himself is stepping down as CEO after a New York Times article in June suggested that he'd fostered a 'hateful workplace' by virtue of comments questioning issues like women's intelligence. Around that time, Kraken issued another business update, declaring that it wasn't firing anyone and wanted to hire another 500 people.
Writing today, Powell says the company tripled its workforce in the past few years and that today's layoffs will simply return Kraken's headcount to its level at the start of the year. The implication, therefore, is that around 500 people have joined in the past six months. Presumably some of them will now be leaving again. If this is the case, it's conceivable that they might want to vent on an online forum (feel free to leave comments below this article).
While Kraken's most damning reviews so far complain of things like poor management, bureaucracy and overwork, its more enthusiastic employees praise the exchange for being a "based workplace" with a "curious kind and collaborative" vibe and "wickedly smart" colleagues. In emails to journalists in September, Kraken boasted of its remote work, absence of mandated working hours, stipends to help new joiners equip their offices and "holistic health and wellness perks."
In a subsequent email to journalists in October, Pranesh Anthapur, Kraken's Chief People Officer, said the exchange was all about "empowering... remote team members" and propagating the adoption of crypto. Anthapur himself joined Kraken from Uber in November 2021. When he did so, his friends reportedly suggested he was crazy and wasting his time. Anthapur could yet prove them wrong. In the short term, however, he will probably be mostly occupied with trimming heads and monitoring message boards.
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