Former CEO of OKEx Chris Lee publicly announced his resignation without the knowledge of CEO of OKCoin Star Xu. A week later, he joined OKEx’s arch rival Huobi.
Author: Wang Yanhua
Following the abrupt resignation of Chris Lee from his roles as CEO of OKEx and CFO of parent operator OKCoin on May 14, Lee uploaded a post on WeChat detailing his fraught relationship with OKCoin CEO Star Xu.
Lee wanted to clarify rumours circulating his resignation with his post. There have been speculations abound over various possible reasons that he resigned, and Lee lamented that a lot of articles do not understand the situation.
Speculations that are being floated around include that his resignation is related to OKEx’s broiling controversy of faking trading volumes, and inability to work with Xu.
While they do not seem to have parted on the best of terms, they still maintained a cordial front and remained civil towards each other on their WeChat posts.
Lee wrote that to him, Xu is a mentor and a friend, and that he loves OKEx and OKCoin more than anyone else. However, stemming from his love for the company, he said that he has argued repeatedly with Xu over work for the company’s sake.
He wrote in Mandarin:
“Even though I was born in China, I received a Western education. I handle things in a hard and fast manner, and Xu is more grounded and thinks about the long-term. When we fight it’s for the company. His temper is huge, so is mine. After we finish fighting behind closed doors, we are still good buddies who drink together.”
He cited the challenges of working with Xu but applauded his devotion to the company at the same time, “He’s a tech guy. He’s not very good at communicating, which is what many geniuses face. He is not used to being accountable to others, which is his management issue.
“He’s not easy to get along with. But then again, which boss is? He has his shortcomings, but also his strengths. He’s hardworking. He spends more than ten hours in the office everyday, even sleeping there, and sees to a lot of things personally. As this industry is so closely intertwined with money, perhaps he is not used to trusting others yet.”
However, he emphasised that the main reason he left OKEx was because he wanted to explore other opportunities while he is still young.
Lee acknowledged that his departure was very sudden. He explained:
“I wanted to leave clean and quick as opportunities are rare, especially when this industry is rapidly growing.”
Responding to Lee’s post, Xu wrote on WeChat in Mandarin:
“Too many people have asked me about the details, so I have to respond. I received Mr Chris Lee’s resignation on the morning of May 14. Prior to that, he did not inform me at all. On May 9 we discussed business matters in South Korea. Late at night on May 13 he tried contacting me but I was already asleep. The next day he publicly announced his resignation, and joined Huobi on May 21. The details will be settled by legal advisers. My best wishes go to Mr Chris Lee and Li Lin (founder of Huobi)!”
OKEx is the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, and Huobi is currently in the third place. While Lee also expressed that he is open to collaborating in the future with Xu, he has tweeted that he anticipates Huobi being the biggest in the industry.
I've officially joined Huobi group as secretary of the board of Directors & Vice president of International business development
— Chris Lee (@ChrisLEE_Crypto) May 21, 2018