Kraken CEO Explains Why He Stands by $200k

  • Jesse Powell is the chief executive officer of the world’s fourth-largest crypto exchange, Kraken.
  • He told Insider why he still stands by his year-end price target of around $200,000 for bitcoin.
  • He also shares 5 tokens that intrigue him as the firm launches a new 50-token-plus app in the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bitcoin‘s price has been cut in half from its all-time high of over $64,000 in mid-April, but Jesse Powell is unfazed.

The founder and chief executive of Kraken, the fourth-largest crypto exchange in the world by trading volume, said he has seen far worse. 

“There was a time when Mt. Gox blew up and the price of bitcoin went from $1,000 down to $100 and lost 90% of its value. It’s also gone from $30 down to $2,” Powell said in an interview. “So there have been way bigger moves in the past… there have been some moments in the past where it’s like geez are we ever going to recover from this.”

Today, he no longer worries about whether bitcoin will be stuck down in the doldrums. If anything, these crashes have taught him to refrain from checking the prices every single day. 

“I always tell people if you’re thinking of investing in crypto, you’ve got to be thinking about holding it for several years because we have these cycles,” he said. “If you are watching the chart every day, you’re just going to get sick because it’s just all over the place.”

Instead, Powell uses every downward price swing as an opportunity to analyze bitcoin’s fundamentals — whether it means developing a thesis around the cryptocurrency’s long-term software-eats-the-world type of trend or re-reading the bitcoin whitepaper authored by its pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

“It’s like when you have like a crisis of faith as a religious person, maybe you go and read the Bible or Quran,” he said. “Here you go back and read the bitcoin white paper and you’re like yeah this still makes sense.”

Standing by his $200k price target 

In Powell’s view, despite bitcoin’s wild price swings over the past few weeks, nothing about its fundamentals has changed. That’s why he believes that bitcoin reaching $200,000 by the end of this year is “still possible.”

Powell told Insider in an April interview that he could “easily” see bitcoin hit $250,000 in the next year, but in the longer term, it becomes “irrational” to price the cryptocurrency against the dollar mainly due to the rampant money printing by the central bank and what might be the resultant “unchecked inflation.” 

“Personally, I’m still super bullish. If you look at the chart longer-term, bitcoin is just still continuing to outperform every other asset in the world,” he said. “If you were going to sell your bitcoin at these levels, I would ask what could be a better trade than bitcoin at $32,000.”

Indeed, since the interview, bitcoin had already bounced above $36,000 as of 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, which marked a 10% price change within 24 hours. 

Powell said it’s hard to determine exactly what’s driving the price but he does think that a lot of bitcoin’s regulatory headwinds are a blessing in disguise.

For example, China’s latest “bitcoin ban” could help mining become more geographically diverse. The FBI’s seizure of $2.3 million in bitcoin

payment to Darkside shows that law enforcement already has the tools to track the movement of illicit funds. More regulatory clarity around crypto could also unlock more

by making it more accessible to the most conservative institutions, Powell said. 

5 tokens that intrigue him

As one of the original bitcoiners, Powell is by no means a bitcoin maximalist or someone who thinks of bitcoin as the only cryptocurrency that will be needed in the future. 

“I think that is just a very myopic view, there are a lot of things that hold value in the world. You could have a store of value in gold, in silver, in art, in Pokemon cards, or in Tesla stock,” he said. “There are lots of great investments to make. I certainly don’t see bitcoin as being like the only good investment or the only way to store value long-term.”

While Powell sees bitcoin as the best version of digital gold as evidenced by its longevity, security, and reliability over the years, he does not dismiss the possibility of a rather controversial theory that says ethereum could overtake (or “flippening” in crypto slang) bitcoin at some point in time. 

“If you think of ethereum as something that is more actively used in day-to-day commerce for all the smart contracts, powering the NFTs, and all the use cases ethereum has,” he said, “I think it’s not unreasonable to imagine that at some point that the total value of all the ethereum that’s floating out there exceeds that of bitcoin.”

Besides the two largest cryptocurrencies, Powell said he is also intrigued by some of the other fast-developing tokens including Polkadot (DOT), Uniswap (UNI), Chainlink (LINK), Filecoin (FIL), and Kusama (KSM). 

“I wouldn’t say go as far as to say whether they would be good investments,” he said, “but from a technical perspective, what they’re working on is really interesting.”

With the rise of major cryptocurrencies and altcoins alike, Kraken has seen a surge in new clients and trading volumes. To cater to growing demand, the firm recently introduced a new app in the US that aims to “make investing in crypto as easy as buying stocks.” The app allows retail traders to buy and sell more than 50 tokens. 

“Companies like PayPal,

Cash App
, and Robinhood only do a few coins,” Powell said, “so if you want to get deeper into crypto and trade some of the more exotic and newer stuff, you can do that through Kraken.”