June 21, 2022 - 5:40pm

Jesse Powell is the CEO of Kraken, one of the largest crypto currency exchanges in the world.

He has been in the headlines this week for publishing a decidedly libertarian memo about his company’s working culture that challenged any workers claiming offence on topics such as pronoun policies or racial diversity targets to find work elsewhere.

Kraken’s list of values includes the right to bear arms, bodily autonomy on vaccines and a moratorium on enquiring about or advertising gender pronouns in the workplace, amongst other ‘anti-woke’ measures. 

He spoke exclusively to Freddie Sayers from San Francisco.

On how woke workers are bad for business:

“You have a few people that get really upset about something. They manage to affect say ten, twenty people around them, who are well-intentioned people who want their co-workers to be comfortable and feel safe at work and not be offended at work. But those people become distracted by the feelings of the small group. And then those people who are distracted catering to these people are then not getting the work done, and then it affects another layer of people around them who are just like, “We got to do something about this, because people aren’t getting work done anymore.” They might be completely apolitical.”

On the gender disparity in crypto:

“The male to female interest in Bitcoin or knowledge of Bitcoin seems to differ by geography. So it might just be a local, cultural, familiarity with dealing with money. In the United States, it’s way heavy on male knowledge above female knowledge and I think in the United States, in general, as well, if you look at things like car accidents, 16-year-olds dying in car accidents is like 95% male in the United States. So, I think there’s some evidence to say whether it’s nature or nurture, that at least in many cultures, men are much more risk-taking than women are.”

On his commitment to ‘bodily autonomy’ and vaccines:

“I think a company like ours, which is fully remote, we have no reason to mandate a vaccine on people, even for something even more severe than COVID. I think as a society to mandate a vaccine, in the absence of – especially one that seems like it’s very experimental, so far. We don’t have a lot of long term (obviously) studies on the effects of it. I think to roll out something like that broadly, to make it mandatory, is just very dangerous. I think it’s immoral to impose such a thing on on a population broadly. I think people cannot give informed consent when they don’t understand what all the risks are. So, certainly inside the company, we have no vaccine mandate and in fact, for corporate retreats when we do all get together, we do them in places where you can be vaccinated or not, and there’s no problem and we don’t ask about your vaccination status.”

On the pushback in Silicon Valley against ‘woke’ ideologues:

“Silicon Valley definitely is very Left-leaning. I think that there’s been a bit of a pushback recently because I feel like the demands have kind of gone too far. There’s this contingent of people who basically, if you don’t agree with them, you’re evil, you’re a Nazi, and you must be destroyed at all costs. And these people inside of these companies become a cancer, and that spreads to other people. And so, I think that there’s starting to be some pushback because of the extremeness of the views that are there, and just the intolerance of other perspectives. So I think business leaders have had enough of it.”

On the recent Bitcoin crash:

“I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about. This has happened several times. You look at these charts; Bitcoin dies every four years, and then it just keeps coming back. So I think if if you invest in Bitcoin, I always tell people, can you hold it for at least five years. If you can hold it for at least five years, then don’t worry about it. If you’re thinking about like paying your rent next week, then it’s probably not the best place to store your money as a store value, because the volatility could be 50%. It could move 50% in either direction, in the matter of a week. So don’t use your pocket money to buy Bitcoin.”