Bakkt Loses Another CEO: First to the US Senate, Now to JP Morgan

TL;DR: Reuters is reporting Bakkt CEO Mike Blandina is leaving for JPMorgan Chase & Co “to work in payments, according to a memo from the bank.” If true, his exit will be the second CEO in as many years to bail on the company after its first head and co-founder assumed a US Senate seat last November.

Bakkt Loses Another CEO

If recent reporting by Anna Irrera and Noor Zainab Hussain holds, the CEO of Bakkt lasted less than a half year. Blandina was the company’s chief product officer promoted Christmas of 2019, taking over for its first CEO and co-founder, Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler was chosen by the Governor of Georgia to be an interim replacement as US senator. Blandina, before Bakkt, held management positions at PayPal and Google.

During his tenure, Blandina oversaw an uneven physically-settled bitcoin futures market, which at times soared and then fell decidedly back to Earth. He also brought Options to the industry, but Bakkt appeared to get beaten by legacy market makers such as CME. Just last month, the company announced a $300 million round which included “Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft’s M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital, and Pantera Capital,” Blandina noted at the time.

Mike Blandina is out as Bakkt CEO

The company under Blandina also rolled out a mobile application and inked a deal with Starbucks. However, “Bakkt’s majority-owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE.N) on Thursday named David Clifton as interim chief executive officer to replace Blandina. Clifton joined ICE in 2008 and is currently its vice president, M&A and integration,” according to Reuters. 

Undoubtedly, investors in the company are probably hoping his leaving will make less residual headlines than did Loeffler’s. She is accused of selling millions in stock from the end of January just as she and her colleagues were getting coronavirus briefings. Reporting stresses she and her husband (Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange and Bakkt) sold stock right after she was briefed on the issue by leading health agencies like the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institutes of Health.

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