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Chris Lee Has Resigned as CEO of OKEx to Join Rival Cryptocurrency Exchange Huobi

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by Sofiko Abeslamidze · 3 min read
Chris Lee Has Resigned as CEO of OKEx to Join Rival Cryptocurrency Exchange Huobi
Photo: Pixabay

The former chief executive officer of the Hong-Kong based OKEx has left just on the heels of the exchange becoming the world’s largest by daily volume, reportedly overtaking Binance.

The popularity of blockchain and digital assets have incited companies to headhunt for experienced professional within this sphere and it is no secret as demand for blockchain skills is high and finding talent is a real difficulty.

Nowadays the world’s biggest corporate giants have invested billions of dollars into development of their own blockchain departments in a bid of exploring the business potential for blockchains, the robust technology behind cryptocurrencies. Thus, it is an open season on blockchain experts, whereas stellar resignations make headlines every day.

Yet another famous executive in the field of blockchain technology has decided to quit his prominent position. Chris Lee, the ex-CEO of world-leading digital asset exchange OKEx, has recently announced that he is joining international multi-language digital currency trading platform and exchange Huobi as Board Secretary and Vice President of Global Business Development. In this role, Chris will lead Huobi Group’s global M&A strategy and oversee the development of international teams.

The announcement came just one week after Lee stated that he was leaving his former employer so that he could take a short break and spend more time with his family. Lee resigned just after a few months of joining as the CEO of the OKEx exchange, most likely due to the exerting pressure on workplace and mutual confrontation with Xu Mingxing, the founder of OKCoin.

In a statement posted on his WeChat account days after his departure, Lee was translated as saying:

“Xu is a tech guy who lacks communication skills, a problem many geniuses have to face. He heads the team alone and is not used to handing over some work to and trusting others. He works really hard, but is not easy to get along with. But I’m only responsible for OKEx’s overseas business and I’m an idealist.”

Recently OKex has become the largest cryptocurrency exchange by reported turnover, with more than $2 billion of cryptocurrency trades in the past 24 hours, surpassing Binance as the most active cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

However, Lee’s departure will certainly affect OKEx’s performance, as his network and experience in the banking and investment sector could seemingly have pushed the exchange even further. The now-former CEO was previously deemed the best financial executive in Hong Kong by AsiaMoney.

The hiring is significant, as OKEx and Huobi are not only two of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency trading platforms but also direct rivals in the Asian market. At present, OKEx ranks as the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, with $1.8 billion in 24-hour trading volume. Huobi ranks third — after Binance — with $1.1 billion in daily volume.

Huobi founder Li Lin said in a welcome letter that he did not contact Lee until he heard that he had formally resigned from OKEx and that the two quickly came to terms to bring Lee into the Huobi fold. Speaking on his partnership with Huobi, Lee added:

“Huobi Group has built a strong foundation, from the popularity of its exchange to the investments the company has made in the global blockchain ecosystem. The combination of the team’s technical expertise with industry-leading marketing and operational abilities positions it to become the Goldman Sachs of this new era in finance. If done properly, Huobi may even be bigger than Goldman one day.”

Therefore, it is expected that a high level of Lee’s professional expertise will contribute to Huobi development and wider market expansion while it is keeping pace with OKEx to win over the Asian market.

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