In Drunken Text, Kik CEO Threatens to Quit: ‘I’m Not Going to Jail for This’

In a misdirected message sent seemingly under the influence of alcohol, Livingston said he intends to leave the project, citing fears about its ongoing battles with U.S. regulators.

Kik CEO Ted Livingston appears to be close to quitting the social messaging startup he founded in 2009 following news Monday that the app is shutting down.

“Will, I know I’ve been drinking, but this ain’t the drink talking, I’m [fed] up with this shit,” he wrote.

The planned recipient of Livingston’s message is unclear, although in the text it’s suggested to be Kik board member William Mougayar. Mougayar could not be reached for comment.

“We’ll talk more in the morning about replacement, but i quit,” he said, adding:

“I have my ticket. I’m not going to jail for this.”

Livingston deleted the message after it was received by this reporter, who is also named Will. When asked to clarify his comments, Livingston replied “no comment.”

Livingston appeared to suggest there is ongoing talk as to who would continue operations following his departure.

The latest message shows a glaring division between Kik’s public language regarding the case and the palpable behind-the-scenes concern.

The Ontario-based Kik has been in a protracted battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the company’s $100 million initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017. Claiming that dealing with the SEC had cost the company $5 million, Kik mounted a “Defend Crypto” crowdfunding campaign in May 2019 that garnered support from a handful of key players. However, a damning SEC complaint filed in June painted the company’s ICO as a last-ditch effort by Kik to stay afloat.

Earlier Monday, Kik announced the regulatory proceedings had taken their toll on the company and that its flagship messaging service would be shut down. Livingston announced that Kik plans to downsize to 19 core developers to continue the development of Kik’s native token, KIN.

Silvergate Bank Recruits Blockstream Liquid Network Exec

The hire shows Silvergate’s deepening commitment to serving a niche where most banks fear to tread, owing in part to the high costs of anti-money-laundering, know-your-customer and Bank Secrecy Act compliance Lane mentioned.

Crypto-friendly Silvergate Bank has made its first hire from the hardcore bitcoin community to support an ambitious roadmap for its business serving digital currency clients.

Benjamin Richman, formerly director of business development and partnerships at bitcoin tech startup Blockstream, joined the La Jolla, Calif.-based bank at the end of last month as director of digital currency.

“We’ve hired other folks that are from tech companies that were providing services to some crypto companies, and we’ve hired former law enforcement to help us with AML/KYC/BSA, but in the pure crypto space Benjamin might be the first,” Silvergate Chief Executive Alan Lane told CoinDesk.

At Blockstream, an outfit pursuing bleeding-edge tech improvements for bitcoin, Richman was responsible for the growth of Liquid, a sidechain, or parallel network sometimes used to move money between exchanges.

In his new job, Richman will be in charge of crypto customer growth for Silvergate. He is taking over the duty from the executive vice president of corporate development, Ben Reynolds, who will focus on the bank’s newer initiatives such as crypto-collateralized loans and the bank’s application for a New York trust company license.

Earlier this month, the bank launched the Silvergate Exchange Network’s (SEN) Leverage product, which allows proprietary traders to put up bitcoin as collateral for fiat loans they can then use to buy more bitcoin, similar to margin lending in the traditional markets. The bank also applied for the New York trust license with the aim of providing custody and settlement for crypto.

The bank, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in November, is one of a handful in the U.S. that will provide accounts to crypto exchanges, startups and traders. (Signature, Metropolitan Commercial and Cross River are among the few others.) Early last year, Silvergate sold its retail branch and business lending team to focus on its specialty business lines, including crypto, a rich source of low-cost deposits.

Richman isn’t the first executive to move from Blockstream to a fintech-forward financial institution, however. As CoinDesk reported earlier this week, Jonathan Wilkins, a co-founder of Blockstream, is now the chief security officer at the up-and-coming bitcoin brokerage River Financial.

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