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Russia, Guns and Pornhub: How Outgoing Visa CEO Al Kelly Navigated His Final Stretch in the Top Spot


On Feb. 1, Visa chief executive Al Kelly will hand over the reins at the credit card giant to Ryan McInerney, Visa’s current president and move to a position as executive chairman of its board. Under Kelly, who has been CEO for six years, Visa has increased its revenue by 90%, more than doubled the average daily number of transactions and grew its employee base by 85%, according to the company’s figures. But the company is facing an increasing number of challenges, including new regulatory pressures, compliance issues and legal battles. In 2022, as the country emerged from the shutdowns brought on by the pandemic, Visa had a particularly eventful year, with proposed legislation seeking to provide more competition in the industry, new gun store purchase protocols that raised the ire of Second Amendment activists, and a ruling from a judge about its role in facilitating questionable practices in the online porn industry.

“We’re not moral arbiters. We’re not lawmakers,” Kelly tells TIME. “My view is that I speak out when it directly impacts the company. When it doesn’t, it’s not my position to speak out.” However, there have been cases, like the killing of George Floyd, that have prompted Kelly to be more vocal.

Kelly spoke with TIME about how he has navigated these issues over the past year, and reflected on his tenure leading the credit card giant.