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Trading Places: OKEx Boss Defects to Rival Exchange Huobi

The former Chief Executive of Hong Kong based OKEx, Chris Lee, has joined rival crypto exchange Huobi as vice president of global development. The news comes a week or so after he announced that he was leaving his former employer to enjoy more family time.

Lee will be heading the group’s global mergers and acquisitions strategy and supervising international development as the Singapore-based exchange moves towards global expansion. Huobi made the announcement yesterday and it was confirmed by Lee on Twitter;

According to the announcement, Lee had been with the parent firm of OKEx, OKCoin, since 2015. OKCoin founder Xu Mingxing, stepped down from the role of CEO in February, leading to Lee’s appointment in the position.

Lee suggested that the company had experienced a high turnover rate of senior executives in the past few years;

“For my former employer, I have done all I could … The first generation of OKCoin’s international and management teams have left. How many of the second generation are still there? And how many CTOs have left in the last three to four years?”

In a statement on his WeChat account Lee added that he had grown wearisome of clashing with founder Xu;

“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.”

OKEx and Huobi are two of Asia’s largest rivals, the former currently holding the exulted position of top exchange in the world according to With a daily trade volume of $1.7 billion OKEx leads Huobi in third spot on $1 billion per day. Binance splits them in second position with $1.3 billion in daily volume.

Following Binance’s lead, OKEx has also eyed crypto-friendly Malta to setup operations and expand internationally. Huobi has moved away from constricting conditions in China to a more welcoming business environment in Singapore. The exchange has also expanded to London in the race for Asian crypto exchange global dominance.