(Bloomberg) -- Crypto exchange FTX US president Brett Harrison is stepping down and will move into an advisory role, a surprise exit that came after less than 18 months on the job and as the industry weathers a downturn that’s curbed trading.
Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and CEO of FTX, said Zach Dexter, head of FTX US Derivatives, and general counsel Ryne Miller will continue to oversee growth at the company as it plans a relocation of the entity’s headquarters to Miami from Chicago.
“I’m remaining in the industry with the goal of removing technological barriers to full participation in and maturation of global crypto markets, both centralized and decentralized,” Harrison tweeted.
The exit came as a surprise to many in the industry, even as Bankman-Fried said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that the departure had been in the works for “a little while.” Harrison joined FTX US as its first president in May 2021, after leaving Citadel Securities. He has been instrumental in building out the US operation of the crypto-exchange giant, which recently expanded into offering stock trading. Bankman-Fried, who earlier worked with Harrison at Jane Street for three years, has said Harrison was “the best developer to call when you absolutely had to get something online.”
In August, FTX US received a cease-and-desist letter from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation due to “false or misleading statements” about certain products being eligible for insurance protection, which included a now-deleted tweet by Harrison as an example. “We really didn’t mean to mislead anyone, and we didn’t suggest that FTX US itself, or that crypto/non-fiat assets, benefit from FDIC insurance,” Harrison said at the time.
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The crypto industry has seen a raft of successions that sets the stage for a changing of the guard in its roughly decade-old history. Celsius Network Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alex Mashinsky also announced Tuesday he is stepping down as the crypto lender works its way throuugh bankruptcy proceedings. The series of high-profile resignations came after a period of fast growth and aggressive acquisitions followed by “the market coming to a screeching halt,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.
Asked about his own succession plans, Bankman-Fried said he has no plan to leave FTX and will be there “for the long term.”
(Updates with more context, comments from Sam Bankman-Fried.)
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