"Work Somewhere that Doesn't Disgust You"
June 18, 2022 1:21 PM   Subscribe

"Inside a Corporate Culture War Stoked by a Crypto CEO" (SLNYT (archive.org) about crypto app Kraken and CEO Jesse Powell)
posted by box (55 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's well known that I'm no fan of any aspect of the cryptocurrency space, but this is a step beyond. These guys are dicks.

In happier news, the crypto markets are tanking hard today! Perhaps these Kraken chucklefucks will find themselves in the fortunate position of going bankrupt before they get sued into oblivion.
posted by notoriety public at 1:28 PM on June 18 [11 favorites]


I very nearly applied for a job with Kraken not long ago. Thank fuck I didn't.
posted by chavenet at 1:38 PM on June 18 [9 favorites]


Why is it that libertarians so frequently interpret "freedom" as "the freedom to be a massive asshole"?
posted by microscone at 1:42 PM on June 18 [49 favorites]


If you work at any crypto startup and they are offering you a chance to get 4 months severance, you should take it.
posted by interogative mood at 1:42 PM on June 18 [73 favorites]


who would have thought that the venn diagram of libertarians, crypto bros and ceos would produce a toxic person.
posted by sgranade at 1:59 PM on June 18 [35 favorites]


It occurs to me that he is doing this to cause attrition. Same as draconian RTO strategies and Elon's bonkers company wide emails. These companies would rather have their employees quit and crow about their "values" then look bad when they lay off 20% of their workforce.
posted by tehgubner at 2:07 PM on June 18 [26 favorites]


It occurs to me that he is doing this to cause attrition.

Possibly so, and it’s my quiet hope that he gets a lot more attrition than he bargained for. Not just the people who are rightfully disgusted, but also all the more morally flexible people who are eyeing the markets and gauging the distance to the exits.
posted by notoriety public at 2:13 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


FYI, if anyone else was cautious about NYT coverage of crypto after their awful "beginner's guide" (critique; previously), the current article is by different journalists.
posted by col_pogo at 2:14 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


It appears we are seeing "anti-woke capital" as a calculated scheme by executives who are cynically weaponizing their own reactionary beliefs to accomplish hidden goals. Waging culture war as a smokescreen to hide their own business troubles.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:14 PM on June 18 [25 favorites]


In the first dot com crash I had at least one friend whose last paycheck from a bankrupt employer actually bounced, and another friend whose employer called everyone into an all-hands, handed them paper checks, and suggested they go cash them immediately before the bankruptcy was filed, as it was likely they wouldn’t otherwise be paid.

I feel somehow the promise of severance payouts from a crypto company now might be similarly vaporous.

(My own dot com crash experience: I had expenses on a corporate AMEX, for which I was supposed to be personally liable, that I just didn’t file or pay after I got laid off. That employer tried weakly to get me to file, and AMEX sent a couple collection notices, before somebody just realized they should just pay the bill and be done with me. So they did. I had personal charges on the card, for extra hotel nights, that got paid in the process, and I did not feel the least bit guilty.)
posted by fedward at 2:28 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Why are dudes
posted by Going To Maine at 2:32 PM on June 18 [46 favorites]


He shut down replies to the thread after it became contentious...

In response, Kraken’s parent company sued the anonymous reviewers and tried to force Glassdoor to reveal their identities...


For someone who is all about having "open discussions", this guy sure loves crushing dissent.
posted by ordinary_magnet at 2:32 PM on June 18 [22 favorites]


Man Who Lost Everything In Crypto Just Wishes Several Thousand More People Had Warned Him

This is the third time I've posted this as a comment; I expect it'll remain evergreen.
posted by chavenet at 2:33 PM on June 18 [32 favorites]


Also now I’ve read TFA despite my better judgment. It’s worse than I expected and my expectations were quite low.
posted by fedward at 2:36 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


If you work at any crypto startup

"You don't want to work at any crypto startup."

"Uh, I don't want to work at any crypto startup."

"You want to go home and rethink your life."

"I want to go home and rethink my life."
posted by loquacious at 2:42 PM on June 18 [27 favorites]


Powell had a response / digging deeper Twitter thread the day this article came out. Elon Musk loved it.

Charlie Warzel had a good newsletter on this theme recently, Silicon Valley’s Horrible Bosses, talking about Brian Armstrong, the cryptobro in charge of Coinbase who has spawned more than one set of odious rants akin to Powell's. That in turn is informed by John Ganz's newsletter The Emerging Tech-Lash about the intersection between right wing politics and "boss-ism", the idea of strongman rulers calling all the shots.

These are all bad people.
posted by Nelson at 2:42 PM on June 18 [22 favorites]


Yes, absolutely he is trying to get women and minorities to quit because he can't legally lay them off for demographic reasons and can't afford to keep everyone on with his current runway, and he would rather not have to actually do a layoff. Most transparent ploy I've ever seen. This coverage is so fucking credulous! This misogynist, racist pig just wants his company full of white men who, if they aren't hard-right hardcore believers themselves, don't have a problem with very very right-wing beliefs, and believes he's found a way to do it AND avoid admitting he has a cash flow problem at the same time.

He's absolutely creating a hostile work environment for a bunch of his employees though, and I hope at least a few of them stick around and sue him and his stupid company into oblivion. But if I were there, holy hell would I be taking the cash. Life's too short.
posted by potrzebie at 2:59 PM on June 18 [14 favorites]


Go broke because you had a froth-of-the-froth business plan and no execution and you look like a stupid bougie suburb kid. Go broke because the wokesters took you down, you have a rationalization and maybe a convention circuit.
posted by clew at 3:05 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


This is a horrible/entertaining story, but national news that involves 'Kraken' and 'Powell' but not 'Sidney' or 'release the' is confusing for me.
posted by bcd at 3:15 PM on June 18 [13 favorites]


This month, Mr. Powell unveiled a 31-page culture document outlining Kraken’s “libertarian philosophical values” and commitment to “diversity of thought,” and told employees in a meeting that he did not believe they should choose their own pronouns. The document and a recording of the meeting were obtained by The Times.

Those who disagreed could quit, Mr. Powell said
Apparently a "commitment to diversity of thought" means the same thing as "my way or the highway". The complete absence of self-awareness is glaring and so, so typical.

Really don't mind if you sit this one out
My words but a whisper, your deafness a shout
posted by flabdablet at 3:16 PM on June 18 [18 favorites]


I think libertarianism is incoherent and stupid, but I still don't see what any of this has to do with libertarianism. Powell is an asshole and a moron, but he's using the word "libertarian" as a shibboleth. Like a lot of self-identified libertarians, he's just a troll (and a self-identified one, at that).

A troll worth five hundred million dollars. Nice. Even when they lose they win.
posted by klanawa at 3:28 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


/r/buttcoin is struggling to not get too excited.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 3:40 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Being an asshole is such a bad way to make people quit.

Just mandating "IBM in 1968" would probably be much better. Suits, dress shoes, ties and no hair above the ears for gents, and no visible piercings and tats, and no talk of politics or religion whatever. Also, no Slack.

No Slack probably works for all kinds of things.
posted by MattD at 4:00 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Self declared “Free speech absolutist” Elon Musk fires SpaceX employees who criticize his recent leadership.
posted by interogative mood at 4:04 PM on June 18 [15 favorites]


“We Don’t Forbid Offensiveness,” read one section. Another said employees should show “tolerance for diverse thinking”; refrain from labeling comments as “toxic, hateful, racist, x-phobic, unhelpful, etc.”; and “avoid censoring others.”
So, we don't forbid offensiveness and avoid censoring others, but you're forbidden from expressing these ideas which offend us.
posted by Reverend John at 6:01 PM on June 18 [16 favorites]


“If someone strongly dislikes or hates working here or thinks those here are hateful or have poor character,” she said, “work somewhere that doesn’t disgust you.”

I wonder what it must feel like to know pretty much everyone working above and below thinks of you as a diversity hire. That has to sting, no?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:26 PM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Like a lot of self-identified libertarians, he's just a troll (and a self-identified one, at that).

Not to mention there are libertarian trolls who are neither assholes nor morons, like Vermin Supreme.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:32 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


now that cryptocurrency is officially over as of this afternoon, can we please go back to specifying "cryptocurrency" and let "crypto" return to being an abbreviation of cryptography?

i'm joking of course but only by half... a "crypto app" is something like VeraCrypt or PGP or RHash and has been way longer than some tech-bro assholes tried to reinvent the gilded age but with extra-fake internet money

#We'reTakingItBack
posted by glonous keming at 6:42 PM on June 18 [28 favorites]


It feels like they're beating the rush on upcoming trials by helpfully gathering and presenting the evidence and testifying against themselves now
posted by Pronoiac at 7:26 PM on June 18 [7 favorites]


...right wing politics and "boss-ism", the idea of strongman rulers calling all the shots.

We already have a word for this.
posted by AlSweigart at 9:02 PM on June 18 [9 favorites]


So would now be a good time to launch my new cryptocurrency? It's called goatsecoin. Who wants in?
posted by zoinks at 9:25 PM on June 18 [10 favorites]


idk zoinks, i'd kinda like a deeper look into this "goatsecoin" before i sink anything into it
posted by glonous keming at 9:27 PM on June 18 [29 favorites]


deeper look into this "goatsecoin" before i sink anything into it

Yeah, it doesn't really look like it will hold up
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:32 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Lots of blockchain programmers will be looking for work soon. Do you have any openings?
posted by mbrubeck at 9:41 PM on June 18 [7 favorites]


How's recruiting going, zoinks? Will you stretch for my salary/benefits package?

If not, I'll Bender this and launch my own con coin: BingBongCoin (slogan: "Take her to the moon for me").
posted by k3ninho at 10:58 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


I dunno, I'm pretty sure we've all seen this before and don't need to see it again.
posted by biogeo at 11:02 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


now that cryptocurrency is officially over as of this afternoon, can we please go back to specifying "cryptocurrency" and let "crypto" return to being an abbreviation of cryptography?

Let's compromise with cryptozoology. We get to keep the speculation but it's fun and mostly harmless.
posted by Dokterrock at 11:11 PM on June 18 [7 favorites]


zoinks really going for that brass ring
posted by lazaruslong at 1:17 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


Just when I thought I couldn't despise crypto wankers any harder ...
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:23 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that he is doing this to cause attrition.

Very likely. Seems like a fool-proof way to get rid of precisely your most employable employees, because those are the ones who can easily find a better job elsewhere, which might ordinarily make this strategy look slightly less clever to the outside-observer. But this is crypto, so it's all smokes and mirrors anway - I guess you don't actually need any people with particular qualifications for that.

Elon however is actually producing stuff (or seems genuinely trying to), so let's see how this will be working out for him. I'm preparing the popcorn.
posted by sohalt at 1:24 AM on June 19 [6 favorites]


I heard about this story several times in the news - I only clicked on a Fox story about it on a news aggregator to see if they were talking about the same company. Interesting note about the Fox story - even though it was predictably laudatory he was only described as a "tech CEO" without mentioning crypto at all. Perhaps even Fox sees the sector as faddish and sketch? As far as attrition is concerned, would I be wrong to assume that there actually may be some ideological homogeny among the staff (because crypto has an ideology and a set of quasi-religious beliefs regarding the inevitability of its future expansion/success) and saying this doesn't present the kind of risk that it would in a company that has and is attempting to meet representation/DEI goals?
posted by Selena777 at 7:26 AM on June 19


If not, I'll Bender this and launch my own con coin: BingBongCoin (slogan: "Take her to the moon for me").

This was how Dogecoin was invented; it was a nasty shock, I understand, when it actually took off for the same reasons all the other crypto coins took off, despite being openly (rather than covertly) bullshit.
posted by Merus at 8:45 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


The poor dude who thought it up first: Dogecoin Creator Jackson Palmer has rather thoroughly dedicated himself to its destruction.
posted by pan at 9:01 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Pepperidge Farm remembers when Doge was like the crypto mascot for r/buttcoin
posted by Selena777 at 10:01 AM on June 19


My question...what does this company do that it needs to employ 3,000 people?
posted by mmascolino at 10:29 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


Powell had a response / digging deeper Twitter thread the day this article came out.

Jesus, that thread - nothing like comparing your employees to a botnet. This has gotta be the most techbro thing I have ever read.
posted by photo guy at 10:54 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


would I be wrong to assume that there actually may be some ideological homogeny among the staff

I don’t think you’re wrong, and I think the point is to weed out all but the truest of the true believers. Eliminating apostates and reducing payroll in the process seems like a win-win to a cult leader with a shrinking runway.
posted by fedward at 11:04 AM on June 19


The poor dude who thought it up first: Dogecoin Creator Jackson Palmer has rather thoroughly dedicated himself to its destruction.

Yeah, he started it as a joke and AFAIR it was a direct clone of Litecoin.

I would bet that at this point he's kicking himself that he didn't add a self destruct switch, back door or pre-mined a bunch of the coins so he could nuke it from orbit or otherwise tank the price.

About a year ago I remember hearing a coworker and friend talking about buying in when it was getting pumped and dumped and it was one of those "stock tips from the shoeshine" kind of moments and trying to tell him it was started as a total joke that got out of the box and went feral or native and that people shouldn't be taking it (or any ETF) seriously.
posted by loquacious at 12:39 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


It's called goatsecoin. Who wants in?

There's room for everyone!
posted by klanawa at 4:27 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


...if the end of the logo gets cut off, as it does in eg link previews in discord, instead of "kraken" it reads "kracker"...
posted by subdee at 5:58 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


"This employer has taken legal action against reviewers" says it all really; they're gasping to be talked about; let's not?
posted by runehog at 6:38 PM on June 19


I was reading George Orwell's essay, "Such, such were the joys" about his schooling prior at the beginning of the 20th century,

"Virtue consisted in winning: it consisted in being bigger, stronger, handsomer, richer, more
popular, more elegant, more unscrupulous than other people — in dominating them, bullying them, making
them suffer pain, making them look foolish, getting the better of them in every way. Life was hierarchical
and whatever happened was right. There were the strong, who deserved to win and always did win, and there
were the weak, who deserved to lose and always did lose, everlastingly.
I did not question the prevailing standards, because so far as I could see there were no others. How
could the rich, the strong, the elegant, the fashionable, the powerful, be in the wrong? It was their world, and
the rules they made for it must be the right ones. And yet from a very early age I was aware of the
impossibility of any subjective conformity. Always at the centre of my heart the inner self seemed to be awake,
pointing out the difference between the moral obligation and the psychological fact. ..."

A century goes past in no time at all.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 10:32 PM on June 19 [10 favorites]


Jesus. He must’ve gone to Eton, or something, as that is British politics in a nutshell.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:52 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


That Orwell quote is not the same words but ultimately the same sentiment, the same underlying ethos, that O'Brien lays out as the true doctrine of The Party during the torture of Winston Smith.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on June 20


Being an asshole is such a bad way to make people quit.

Just mandating "IBM in 1968" would probably be much better. Suits, dress shoes, ties and no hair above the ears for gents, and no visible piercings and tats, and no talk of politics or religion whatever. Also, no Slack.

No Slack probably works for all kinds of things.


Honestly a lot of software engineers would look at the "no Slack" bit, gaze wistfully at their favourite cargo shorts, and go suit shopping if that was the package on offer...
posted by atrazine at 7:55 AM on June 22


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