San Francisco-based cryptocurrency trading platform Kraken has hired former CoinDesk editor-in-chief Pete Rizzo to join its growing global team.
A well-known figure in the cryptocurrency space, Rizzo joined CoinDesk in September 2013 when the now-prominent publication was a simple blog. In his tenure there, he oversaw all content production, hired dozens of new employees, and wrote more than 1,500 articles.
His abrupt departure in September—six years to the month later—came at a time when the company was going through difficult changes. Most notably, the editorial team learned it would be relocating to the same building as parent company Digital Currency Group in March 2020.
With DCG’s operations, including subsidiaries Grayscale Investments and Genesis Trading, working out of the same building in Manhattan, editors and journalists were concerned that the move would compromise the editorial integrity of CoinDesk, according to a report in CoinDesk.
Editor to evangelist
In his new role at Kraken, a company run by the outspoken Jesse Powell, Rizzo is responsible for driving content related to new products and services as the exchange expands its international reach, according to a Kraken blog post, which includes a lengthy Q&A with Rizzo.
At CoinDesk, he was focused on “editorial or content product—standardizing work flows for how news and information reaches millions of readers,” Rizzo said. His new job will involve, “working with a larger team that is trying to acquire users and get people interested in cryptocurrency.”
Much of that work will involve finding synergies with cryptocurrency natives, he said. That mean not just getting them to use Kraken, but to actively promote its products.
“This is a very difficult balance to achieve, and one that I’m looking forward to helping accelerate with some new ideas,” he said.
Lured into the space by colorful characters
Rizzo was first pulled into the cryptocurrency space during Bitcoin’s Silk Road days, he said. The digital black market, which relied on bitcoin for payments, was shut down by law enforcement in 2013. As a freelance journalist in Boston at the time, Rizzo was covering payments when he started running into odd and colorful characters in the Bitcoin world.
Due to “sheer fascination,” he quickly fell down the rabbit hole, he said.
He had a hunch that “if I learned enough about this new bitcoin thing, that nobody else could explain, I would add some unique value to the brand,” said Rizzo. Indeed, that’s what happened.
He started working at CoinDesk, remotely at first, when the company was located in London. But then after DCG acquired the firm in 2016, the company moved to Times Square, and Rizzo soon moved to New York.
Today, he is a recognized face in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, and has been around long enough to watch the industry reshape itself and grow.
“Two to three years ago all the hype was about private blockchains and distributed ledgers,” he said. “I cannot remember the last time I heard anyone mention either of those terms.”