Bakkt CEO departs scene after four months – David Clifton interim CEO

The CEO revolving door continues to spin at the Bakkt futures exchange. The news last December was that Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt’s CEO since its inception in August of 2019, had departed the scene to serve as the political appointee to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Johnny Isakson of Georgia. In a press release now issued by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the parent company of Bakkt and owner and operator of the New York Stock Exchange, it was announced that the current CEO, Mike Blandina, was “leaving the company to pursue a new opportunity”.

Before anyone could say “management shakeup” and gin up the rumor mill, Reuters reported that: “The top boss of Bakkt, Mike Blandina, will leave the cryptocurrency trading platform to join JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N to work in payments, according to a source familiar with the matter.”

Bakkt exchange

ICE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher moved quickly via an internal all-hands meeting to name an interim CEO, a man chosen from the ranks of the organization and one who had worked on the firm’s 2013 acquisition of NYSE Euronext. David Clifton, vice president of M&A and integration at ICE, will replace Blandina at the helm, and Adam White, Bakkt’s president, will continue in his current role.

The much-anticipated launch of the Bakkt exchange in 2019 had been delayed for a variety of reasons and has never lived up to the hype after opening its doors last August. Designed primarily for institutions, it has gradually built up a following, but volumes still lag considerably behind its main competitor, the CME. Volumes in April have recovered, but they remain roughly 10% of the turnover at the CME. Volumes did crate in March due to fears of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they and open interest have risen.

Chart provided courtesy of skew

Sprecher also spoke approvingly of David Clifton’s past accomplishments in a separate statement: “David Clifton has been deeply engaged in many of our most important initiatives over the years and, after helping to lead the acquisition of Bridge2 to accelerate the rollout of Bakkt’s consumer application, I know he will provide outstanding leadership for Bakkt as its Interim CEO.”

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