Why do many crypto founders and executives leave their projects?

2023 © Wikiask
Main topic: Tech
Other topics: Crypto
Short answer:
  • High failure rate
  • Regulatory uncertainty
  • Fast wealth generation and not needing to work

The cryptocurrency industry is known for its high price volatility. Since 2010, there have been three 4-year cycles of boom and bust: 3 years of boom followed by one year of bear market. That volatility has also translated into a high number of changes in industry personnel, what Bloomberg has called the "Great Resignation"[1].

Bitcoin price chart since 2010, in log. Screenshot of BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com.

In Q3 2022, casualties in the crypto industry included[2]:

  • Genesis CEO Michael Moro
  • Microstrategy CEO Michael Saylor
  • Kraken CEO Jesse Powell
  • Alameda Research co-CEO Sam Trabucco
  • FTX.US President Brett Harrison
  • Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky

For founders departing, many reasons can be cited; in this answer, we summarize the most common.

High failure rate[edit]

Most startups fail, and the failure rate in the cryptocurrency industry shows that crypto is no exception. According to a 2018 study, 92% of the 80,000 blockchain projects then launched had stopped being maintained.[3] Additionally, the average life span of a project was 1.22 years.

When a project fails entirely, it is expected that the entire team will be dismissed.

Because of the cyclicality of the crypto industry, many projects can enter a terminal zombie-like state, where they are alive but without much usage. In those cases, a large part of the teams is expected to leave or be dismissed.

Regulatory uncertainty can scare people away[edit]

In addition to failure, the high regulatory uncertainty in the cryptocurrency industry can scare founders and critical executives away.

In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken an adversarial stance towards crypto.[4] It has repeatedly affirmed that it believes that most cryptocurrencies are securities subject to SEC regulation, implying that most U.S.-based cryptocurrencies today are not following appropriate U.S. regulations.

The SEC has also repeatedly alleged the cryptocurrency markets lack appropriate investor protections against:

  • Custody risks
  • Conflicts of interest and market integrity
  • Fraud, scammers, and manipulation

Some have become wealthy and do not need to work anymore[edit]

The cryptocurrency industry has reached around $1 trillion in market capitalization after a decade. Many have become billionaires, and many more millionaires.

Therefore, some industry participants have left the industry explicitly saying that the cause was their rapid increase of wealth, like former Alameda Research co-CEO Sam Trabucco.[5] For someone with an extremely high net worth, working for a salary might not be worth their time.


  1. "What's Driving Crypto's C-Suite 'Great Resignation'?". 2022-10-12. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  2. Kuhn, Daniel (2022-10-17). "Why Are So Many Crypto Execs Leaving?". www.coindesk.com. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  3. AI, China Money (2018-05-28). "Chinese Official Says Blockchain Projects Globally Had Average Life Span Of 1.22 Years". China Money Network. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  4. "Why doesn't the SEC like crypto?". Wikiask. 2022-10-18. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  5. "Alameda Co-CEO Trabucco Steps Down From Crypto Trading Firm". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2022-10-18.