Crypto exchange Kraken’s ‘culture overhaul’ bans calling speech ‘racist,’ may include firearm and self-defense training

June 15, 2022, 7:29 PM UTC

In a nearly 4,000 word document published Wednesday, crypto exchange Kraken laid out a vision of its corporate culture that includes prohibiting employees from calling speech “racist,” possibly incorporating firearm and self-defense training into corporate retreats, and supporting politicians and legislation that could be “to the detriment of other civil rights causes.” 

In a blog post titled “Kraken culture explained,” the company speaks broadly about freedom, being skeptical of centralized power, and empowering employees to express differing opinions.

It also lays out limits on what its employees can say, including not calling “someone’s words toxic, hateful, racist, x-phobic, unhelpful, etc.” The company adds that every employee is responsible for their own feelings and that “offended” is not the same as “harmed.”

“If nobody is ever offended, we either don’t have enough diversity of thought or we don’t have enough transparency in communication,” the post says.

In a section of the post titled “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sound Money,” the company added that potentially having firearms at a future corporate event could be an example of a core ideas fundamental to the company’s culture, related to of liberty, self defense, due process, personal property, limited government, and personal bodily autonomy. 

“We may incorporate firearm and self-defense training in to corporate retreats,” the post reads. 

Kraken was founded in 2011 and began offering crypto trading services in 2013. The San-Francisco-based exchange is the fourth-largest crypto exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap. Last year, the company was reportedly in talks that valued it at more than $10 billion, although the funding round has not gone through. 

The company’s post seems to be a sharp rebuke of the kind of progressive policies that Silicon Valley companies have strived for over the past few years, and Kraken’s views on diversity stood in particular contrast.

While other major tech companies have outwardly addressed the stark racial and gender disparities in their workforces, Kraken’s post rejects the view of diversity based on physical appearances and emphasized “diversity of thought.”

“We reject the myopic view that ‘diversity’ can be captured by a short checklist of obvious physical features,” the company’s post reads. “Silicon Valley’s view of diversity in the world is dangerously limited, a commodification of individuals, and a disturbing reflection of profound ignorance. Viewed through a global lens, diversity is infinite. We place an emphasis on equality of opportunity, regardless of background.”

The statement also included a section about the company’s future political interests, and a note about civil rights that is wildly dissonant with the way that other companies have strived to market themselves. 

Kraken said it will engage in lobbying for the crypto industry as a single-issue donor, “supporting controversial politicians and legislation that furthers The Mission, possibly to the detriment of other civil rights causes.” 

The company’s statement, which seemed designed to create shock waves, was also accompanied by a series of fiery tweets from Kraken CEO Jesse Powell published at around 4 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Powell linked to a public announcement in one of his tweets that said the company will be hiring 500 people during the remainder of the year, but also links to the 4,000 word culture document.

“I think we’ve developed some really thoughtful policies that might not appease woke activists but work for the other 99% of the world,” Powell wrote. 

Powell added that a journalist would be publishing a “hit” piece on the company in the next couple days.

On Wednesday the New York Times published a story on Kraken’s company culture and its battle with employees that reported Powell is in a  slack group dedicated to trolling and that he said in a slack message that “Most American ladies have been brainwashed in modern times.” 

Kraken and Powell did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

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