Jun 15, 2022 - Economy

Kraken's hiring spree comes with disclaimer

Illustration of a tentacle about to shake hands.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Kraken wants to hire more than 500 people to fill open and soon-to-be-open positions at the crypto exchange — only it comes with a disclaimer about company culture that job hunters might want to be aware of.

Why it matters: Signs of a bear market are all around, including the rash of layoffs over the last couple of weeks. That makes crypto job hunters, especially those who were disappointed lately, susceptible to leap before looking.

Driving the news: A number of crypto firms, most recently Coinbase, said they would be cutting headcount, slowing hiring or a combination of both due to a tough economy and a looming crypto winter.

They said what: Kraken boss and co-founder Jesse Powell in a Twitter thread Wednesday contextualized the hiring news by discussing company culture and calling out a few employees who are "Great talent, bad fit."

  • Kraken said it expanded its permanent benefits to "make moving on a bit easier" via a transition program.
  • "In addition to the hundreds of roles we have open, we’ll also be rehiring for positions that become vacant as a result of the transition program," the firm said.
  • "When things were rosy, everybody got along. When things started to look grim, insensitivities and the misalignment came through. People focused on minor slights, first world problems rather than our really big, important Mission to help billions of people," Powell tweeted as part of the thread on culture.

Powell also tweeted that only 20 out of the company-wide 3,200 were "totally not on board" with a recent attempt to summarize Kraken company culture.

  • Of the five things Powell listed that "the 20" were upset about included diversity, equity and inclusion; pronouns; "whether someone can identify as a different race and be allowed to use the N-word" and "being 'harmed' by 'violent' words."

Crypto firms are global by nature — a valid point Powell makes — and those who aren't familiar with American values in regards to diversity and inclusion may not agree with them by virtue of living in a place or region that may approach those issues differently.

Kraken's 10 "Tentaclemandments" is laid out like a company bible and puts a premium on radical transparency.

  • For those who don't remember, the term was popularized by Bridgewater's Ray Dalio and his book of principles for the hedge fund's employees. (The culture there has also been subject to scrutiny.)
  • Recall Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong penned an eerily similar post in September 2020.

The intrigue: Powell mentioned that an insider is likely "in breach of their NDA" because an unnamed journalist is expected to publish a story he characterized as a "hit piece" coming soon.

  • We're not sure what they're saying, but perhaps we will soon.

The bottom line: "The ideal Krakenite is thick-skinned and well intentioned," according to Kraken.

Our thought bubble: Pretty smart to preempt a potential bad review.

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