Bakkt CEO Mike Blandina Steps Down 4 Months After Taking Role

23 April 2020

Bakkt CEO Mike Blandina is stepping down from his role, an individual familiar with the situation told CoinDesk.

He will be replaced by David Clifton, vice president of M&A and integration at Bakkt parent company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Adam White, the company’s president, will maintain his role. The move was announced internally at an all-hands meeting.

The shakeup was later confirmed via a press release.

Blandina was named the CEO in December 2019, succeeding now-U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who helmed the company since its launch in August 2018 until her appointment to the U.S. Congress. He is moving to take on a role at JPMorgan, an individual familiar with the situation told CoinDesk. Blandina did not immediately return a request for comment. A JPMorgan spokesperson declined to comment. Blandina’s future plans were not mentioned in the press release beyond that he was “leaving the company to pursue a new opportunity.”

Clifton participated in ICE’s 2013 acquisition of NYSE Euronext, according to the press release, and will now focus on Bakkt’s integration of Bridge2 Solutions, the loyalty program provider the company acquired in February.

In a statement, ICE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said, “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.”

Bakkt, which currently offers bitcoin futures and options contracts to institutions worldwide, is in the middle of building a retail-focused payments and rewards app. The company is already testing an integration with Starbucks, and intends its final app to support a range of rewards, such as airline miles, and vendors.

Bakkt, which launched its physically settled futures contracts last autumn and options and cash-settled futures contracts in December, has seen limited trading volumes, including periods where some of its contracts have had no volume. 

A spokesperson for ICE did not immediately return a request for comment.