Bulletins

Kraken's culture memo is a DEI nightmare

The crypto exchange’s post on its culture sparked heated debate on diversity in the workplace.

Kraken CEO and co-founder Jesse Powell

Kraken's culture summary stated that employees could not call coworkers' words "toxic" or "hateful."

Photo: Kraken

A new blog post from Kraken titled “Kraken Culture Explained” has sparked heated discussions on diversity in the workplace. CEO Jesse Powell just doubled down in a Twitter thread claiming that the arguments over culture were stifling Kraken's productivity. "Most people don't care and just want to work," Powell tweeted as part of a long thread, "but they can't be productive while triggered people keep dragging them in to debates and therapy sessions."


The message references “The Mission” throughout the post, which states that the main goal of Kraken is to “accelerate the worldwide adoption of cryptocurrency.”

One of Kraken's 10 “Tentaclemandments” delineated in the post claims that “bitcoin removes politics from money,” while another says that Kraken will “engage in lobbying, as a single-issue donor, supporting controversial politicians and legislation that furthers The Mission, possibly to the detriment of other civil rights causes.”

The seventh “Tentaclemandment” stated that diversity would not exist without diversity of thought and tolerance of diverse thoughts, which then led to an outline of basic principles for communicating, one of which demanded that employees “not call someone’s words toxic, hateful, racist, x-phobic, unhelpful, etc.”


With all the touting of inclusion and diversity of thought in the company's culture, Powell also maintains that those who disagreed with the culture could quit and opt into a program providing four months of pay if they affirmed that they would never work at Kraken again, according to a New York Times story.

For those who have opted to quit, Kraken will “be rehiring for positions that become vacant as a result of the transition program.”

This isn't the first time Powell has been the center of a controversy regarding his views on diversity. In April he tweeted, "Do you have to be Asian to leave reviews on @Yelp?" He also reportedly added his views on women's intelligence in an internal discussion on Slack, where he said that the debate was still unsettled. "Most American ladies have been brainwashed in modern times," he said.

The problem doesn't seem to be limited to Kraken. Companies in the fintech industry, like Coinbase, and in other sectors of tech have published similar mission-driven culture statements saying that workplace conversations about social and political issues are not allowed for employees.

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