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Crypto: Hemorrhage of CEOs Continues

At least five CEOs or senior level executives have stepped down from cryptocurrency companies recently.
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Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky resigned on Sept. 27 along with Brett Harrison, U.S. president of FTX, among a spate of other resignations from cryptocurrency exchanges and lenders in recent weeks as valuations plummeted.

Mashinsky was the latest CEO or senior level executive to step down, citing that he was becoming a “a distraction” to the company he founded that once was valued at $3 billion as it now undergoes bankruptcy procedures.

“Effective immediately, please accept my resignation as CEO of Celsius Network Ltd, as well as my directorships and other positions at each of its direct and indirect subsidiaries, with the exception of my director position at Celsius Network Ltd,” he wrote in a resignation letter. “I regret that my continued role as CEO has become an increasing distraction, and I am very sorry about the difficult financial circumstances members of our community are facing.”

The board of Celsius also named Chris Ferraro as interim CEO and chief restructuring officer. He had previously served as the CFO for Celsius and spent almost 20 years at JPMorgan Chase in several roles with the last one being managing director of financial planning and analysis. 

Once the crypto market crumpled in June, Celsius stopped customers from making withdrawals and filed for bankruptcy the next month. 

Celsius emerged as a major crypto lender after providing as much as 30% returns weekly, an astronomical amount when many traditional banks were offering interest of 0.5% or lower on savings. 

The company had sought to be an intermediary between traditional finance and the sphere of cryptocurrencies and was founded in 2017 by Mashinsky.

Celsius said in June it owed its customers nearly $4.7 billion in crypto. The lender said it has 1.7 million customers, including 300,000 with accounts that are worth over $100, according to its bankruptcy filings.

The company is working with the U.S. Trustee and the unsecured creditors committee as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

Brett Harrison, president of FTX U.S., a crypto exchange, also resigned on Tuesday, stating in a tweet that he will spend the next few months transferring his responsibilities and moving into an advisory role at the company. Harrison already changed his job title to advisor of FTX on Twitter, a social media platform.

Harrison is among at least five CEOs or executives who stepped down from cryptocurrency companies recently in the wake of valuation of digital currencies plummeting.

The cryptocurrency market is now only worth $971 billion as of Sept. 27, losing over $2.29 trillion compared to its record of $3 trillion reached in November, according to data firm CoinGecko. Lenders such as Celsius Network and Voyager Digital have both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

He did not disclose a reason for his resignation, but said he plans to remain in the industry. The crypto industry is facing several crossroads, including the "intersection of the arrival of larger market participants and the increasing fragmentation and technological complexity of the market’s landscape," Harrison said in a tweet.

Several CEO Departures

The CEOs of Kraken, Alameda and Microstrategy also resigned during the past two months.  

Jesse Powell, co-founder of the Kraken cryptocurrency trading platform, stepped down in September. He will become chairman and will be succeeded by an insider, Dave Ripley, who is currently chief operating officer.

Billionaire Michael Saylor, one of bitcoin's most prominent evangelists, resigned as CEO of software company MicroStrategy  (MSTR) - Get Free Report in early August and will serve as chairman. He co-founded the firm in 1989 and plans to focus on bitcoin whose declining prices pushed MicroStrategy to record a $2 billion impairment charge in the second quarter.

Michael Moro, who was CEO of of crypto brokerage Genesis, stepped down in August and Sam Trabucco, co-CEO of Alameda Research, also resigned last month.