Many traders remember Yuzo Kano’s time as BitFlyer’s CEO fondly. The financial wizard took the exchange to the top, managing to cement it as the leading crypto company in Japan. But Kano jumped ship in 2019. His decision to leave came after the Financial Services Agency (FSA) declared it would be stepping up regulations. The new regulations meant that KYC and AML measures were to be forced on exchanges, ultimately changing the market in a big way.
But now, years after stepping down, Kano is hinting that he’d like to return to his previous position. Though in this case, he would be returning with a grand plan. Reports have suggested that Kano intends on taking the exchange public. There is, of course, no guarantee he will be accepted back, or that the BitFlyer board will agree to his plan.
Many people aren’t even aware that Kano is a majority shareholder at BitFlyer. He holds a 40% stake, meaning that his personal investment is enormous. Even still, rumours are that he has fallen out of favour with a majority of the company’s shareholders. Accusations of sabotage have been thrown about, with some even hinting that he left his CEO position as a means to destroy the company.
More disturbing still is that some of the disagreements have been very public. Last year, Kano actively opposed BitFlyer being acquired by ACA, declaring that the move was nothing more than a ploy to have him kicked out. He levelled these accusations squarely at current CEO Masaaki Seki.
Kano is quoted as openly saying that Seki and other shareholders have been on a mission to get rid of him. The Chairman of ACA, however, has countered the accusations by suggesting that Kano is paranoid.
This may all seem like a case of corporate espionage, with Kano being nothing more than a victim. But others at BitFlyer paint a different picture. According to Seki and others that have tried and failed to be company CEO, Kano is a very difficult person. Various sources from within the company confirm that Kano is abrasive, that he constantly interferes, and that he refuses to let others make decisions.
Kano, meanwhile, has declared that he’s simply doing what’s best. He explained that it is his job to point out faults, demand improvements, and insist that others do their jobs.
With all of this being said, what exactly is Kano’s plan, and why does he again want to be CEO? The reality is that BitFlyer is a small, struggling crypto exchange. The company logs only $50 million in daily trading volume, putting it dramatically below competitors. Upbit and LBank, for example, regularly log $1 billion in trading volume.
According to Kano, he aims to take BitFlyer to the next level. He will achieve this, he claims, by introducing new products and giving the company as a whole a facelift. A bold plan, but chances are that shareholders are going to be very hesitant to let him again take the reins.