As the crypto market continues to melt down, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell took to Twitter to emphasize a return to a crypto-first culture as the early Bitcoin exchange announced that it would continue hiring—reframing “diversity and inclusiveness” in the process.
“We’re going to keep building and hopefully do a better job of filtering up front,” Powell tweeted. “I think we’ve developed some really thoughtful policies that might not appease woke activists but work for the other 99% of the world.”
In a blog post released today, Kraken reiterated its mission of financial freedom and inclusion while emphasizing that different opinions are welcome.
“We will never ask that our employees adopt any specific political ideology as a requirement for our workplace,” the company wrote. “That said, we ask that our employees respect the individual rights, privacy, and freedoms of others. Crypto is a freedom movement, and Kraken will remain a freedom company.”
But that is easier said than done, and while Kraken says that belief in the company’s mission is a must, Powell says there are about 20 employees out of 3,200 who are not totally on board.
“What are they upset about?” Powell asked. “Silicon Valley’s version of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), pronouns, whether someone can identify as a different race and be allowed to use the N-word, whether differences in human sex exist at all, being respected and unoffended, being ‘harmed’ by ‘violent’ words.”
Powell attributed this discontent to fast-paced hiring without enough emphasis on “culture + mission fit,” during a time when crypto was, as Powell puts it, “super hot.”
“60% have been with the company for < 6 months. So, no biggie, except 20 unhappy people can sap the productivity out of another 400 with little effort," Powell tweeted.
Powell says it is a case of “great talent, bad fit,” adding that people got along when things were “rosy,” but when the market turned grim, sensitivities, misalignment, and a focus on minor slights and “first-world problems” began.
“Most people don’t care and want to work,” Powell tweeted. “But they can’t be productive while triggered people keep dragging them into debates and therapy sessions,” he says.
According to Powell, the problem also stems from an influx of talented people looking for a seat on the next rocket ship, not realizing that crypto is more of a rollercoaster.
For Powell, the answer was to lay out a culture document and allow employees to “agree and commit, disagree and commit, or take the cash,” and according to the Kraken post, the company has expanded its benefits program to make moving on easier.
Referring to employees as “Krakenites,” the document notes, “If you value etiquette meaningfully above transparency and authenticity then you may be uncomfortable here.
The company says that it will do business with controversial television programs, podcasts, influencers, and events if it furthers “the mission.”
“Expecting or encouraging Krakenites to strive to never ever offend their fellow teammates and/or to be compelled into conforming to the most vocal colleague’s societal or cultural norms, leads to a significant reduction in our ability to build and celebrate diversity and inclusiveness,” the document continues.
“Words nor silence are ever ‘violence,’” is a Kraken communications principle, as is, “We do not call someone’s words toxic, hateful, racist, x-phobic, unhelpful, etc.”
“You’ve gotta be resilient, humble, open, and highly tolerant of differing norms,” Powell says, pointing out that Kraken has employees in over 70 countries, speaking over 50 languages.
“That’s DIVERSITY,” Powell tweeted. “It’s not always easy.”
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