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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Irwin

FTX US president Brett Harrison is stepping down

International cryptocurrency exchanges have struggled with management churn at their U.S. affiliates in recent years.


Brett Harrison announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that he would be stepping down from his role as president of FTX US and moving to an advisory role. He said he will continue working in the industry.

Harrison assumed the role with FTX just 16 months ago. Previously, he worked as an operations manager of multiple technology groups at Citadel Securities and as a developer at Headlands Technology. Harrison and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried overlapped at Jane Street between 2014 and 2017, when Harrison led systems trading technology and Bankman-Fried was a cryptocurrency trader. FTX has not responded to requests for comment as to why he is leaving the firm, though Bankman-Fried told Bloomberg the announcement would not have been made so publicly if FTX hadn't known in advance.

During his tenure at FTX, Harrison saw the trading platform grow from three to over 100 employees, build a U.S. brokerage, and acquire multiple other crypto firms including LedgerX and Embed. “I don’t doubt my experiences in this role will be among the most cherished of my career,” he said in a tweet.

The departure may be part of a broader theme of executive churn in crypto exchanges’ U.S. affiliates. Binance, the world’s largest exchange by trading volume, has also suffered management churn with its U.S. affiliate, Binance.US.

In order to shield the exchanges from scrutiny in other countries and to ensure regulatory compliance with U.S. law, both exchanges have created separate American affiliates responsible for domestic licensing, data storage, and currency trading. International scrutiny of both platforms has accelerated in the past two years, putting considerable pressure on executives who must defend the companies’ practices in the U.S. and convince lawmakers there is no risk of influence or control from foreign operators. However, Bankman-Fried himself has typically represented FTX before Congress — while Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has not, instead leaving U.S. executives to manage D.C. relationships.

Several other crypto firms have seen high-profile departures recently amid the industry's "crypto winter." Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky also resigned Tuesday in the middle of that company's bankruptcy proceedings, and Kraken CEO Jesse Powell stepped down last week.

Harrison said he will continue working in the cryptocurrency industry after his departure. The industry is “at a crossroads,” he said, voicing his concern about large companies entering the market. His goal, according to the Twitter thread, will be “removing technological barriers to full participation in and maturation of global crypto markets, both centralized and decentralized.”

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