Editor’s note: This article was first published on June 16, 2022, and last updated on July 22.
Cryptocurrencies and the stock market have been hammered by deteriorating economic conditions so far this year, between a recession potentially looming, sky-high inflation and a Federal Reserve that’s poised to further cool down the economy by raising interest rates.
The worsening outlook towards the economy has led companies to cut back on hiring or shrink operations in an attempt to better manage costs and protect profits. In early June, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy in an email to company executives and stated 10% of salaried employees at the company would need to lose their jobs, according to reporting from Reuters.
The sense of pessimism has led to similar cuts among companies in the world of crypto, but not all, with some currently hiring and feasting amid the carnage.
Decrypt will continue to update this list with more staffing news from big companies.
Gemini Trust Co., owned by billionaires Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, was among the first of crypto titans to announce it was firing employees. On June 2, the company said in a blog post it would be cutting approximately 10% of its workers, citing “turbulent market conditions that are likely to persist for some time.”
The company would go on to do a second round of layoffs more discreetly, without disclosing how many people would be let go to the public or employees, according to reporting from TechCrunch.
An anonymous source close to the company told TechCrunch that the number of people in Gemini’s company-wide slack channel had been reduced by 7%, as 68 members were removed on July 18. The same individual characterized the layoffs as “extreme cost cutting.”
Coinbase, meanwhile, announced a hiring freeze that saw job offers rescinded from employees it had already reached agreements with. The company would later state the need to lay off 1,100 of its workers and prepare for an “extended” crypto winter, slashing its workforce by 18% because it “over-hired” during the previous bull run in crypto markets.
BlockFi CEO Zac Prince declared the company that offers its customers high-yield crypto accounts would be “reducing [its] headcount by roughly 20%” to around 600 on June 13 and said the “decision was driven by market conditions that have had a negative impact on our growth rate and a rigorous review of our strategic priorities.”
BlockFi would go on to try and further reduce its headcount on July 18 by paying employees to resign voluntarily. A BlockFi employee told Decrypt the company’s offer included 10 weeks of paid leave and 10 weeks of extended health insurance. Employees were assured they’d be eligible for unemployment if they took the deal, according to the source.
The buyouts were confirmed by BlockFi in an emailed statement to Decrypt.
“BlockFi initiated a voluntary separation program to right-size our organization for the current market environment,” a spokesperson at BlockFi told Decrypt. “This is not an action we took lightly and want to ensure that employees have resources to consider the decision that is right for them.”
Crypto.com announced it would lay off 5% of its company or 260 members of its workforce to “ensure continued and sustainable growth for the long term,” CEO Kris Marszalek said in a Tweet on June 10. He added, “We will continue to evaluate how to best optimize our resources to position ourselves as the strongest builders during the down cycle to become the biggest winners during the next bull run.”
Within the past six months, Crypto.com has paid an estimated $1.4 billion in becoming a sponsor for the FIFA World Cup and putting its name on what was previously the Staples Center in Los Angeles, along with an additional $100 million for Matt Damon to star in Crypto.com’s Super Bowl commercial earlier this year, featuring the notable declaration, “Fortune favors the brave.”
2TM, the company that created Mercado Bitcoin, released a statement saying it would lay off 12% of its 750 workers the same week. The company that runs the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in Latin America by volume, according to data from CoinGecko, based the decision on “changes in the global financial landscape” that required it to go beyond just the reduction of operating expenses.
Bisto, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume in Latin America, had revealed it was cutting 80 of its 700 employees the week prior amid a tightening economy. The company was founded in 2014 and operates in the U.S., Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. The exchange hosts 34 tradable currencies and claims to be the largest in Mexico.
Buenbit, a leading cryptocurrency exchange in Argentina, also said it needed to lay off 45% of its workforce around the same time, reducing its employee roster to 100 from 180. CEO Federico Ogue said in a Twitter thread, “After a 2021 of exponential growth for the tech industry, we find ourselves going through a global review stage.”
Bitpanda, a platform for trading digital assets and physical commodities, said it’s going to fire about 270 employees. “We are committed to Bitpanda’s mission, therefore we need to take decisive actions now,” a company blog post said.
Banxa, an Australian crypto firm, announced on June 27 that it would be cutting staff by 30%, reducing the company’s headcount to 160 workers from 230. Banxa specializes in the conversion of digital assets to fiat currencies and said its “employee costs are too high to effectively manage this uncertain market” as part of its decision.
“We saw Banxa’s market capitalization nearly halve in a matter of days, and the forecast is that these conditions will most likely continue for another 12 months,” the company’s CEO, Holger Arians, said in a statement.
Bitcoin mining business Compass Mining announced it would lay off 15% of its employees on July 7. The company founded last year had 78 employees listed on its website at the time of the announcement. Compass explained it “grew too quickly” in a press release, adding it cut pay by up to 50% for senior employees and its executive team as part of efforts to better manage costs.
“Given recent market downturn and anticipated future market conditions, we had to take a hard look at our spend and recalibrate for the future of the business,” said Thomas Heller and Paul Gosker, Compass’s co-founders and interim CEOs. “While painful, these changes will enable Compass to stay agile and well-positioned in this evolving market, which has challenged many of our industry peers.”
OpenSea, which operates the largest NFT marketplace by volume, announced the need to lay off 20% of its staff in mid-July. According to an internal Slack message shared by company CEO Devin Finzer in a tweet, OpenSea will help employees let go with job placement resources and by providing extended health care coverage, among other benefits, including “generous severance.”
Founded in 2017, Finzer stated the company has “been through crypto winter before” and is structured in a way that takes the “cyclicality of crypto” into consideration.
“We have entered an unprecedented combination of crypto winter and macroeconomic instability,” Finzer said. “We need to prepare the company for the possibility of a prolonged downturn.”
Blockchain.com announced it was letting go of around 150 or 25% of its employees in the latter half of July. A majority of the job cuts took place in Argentina, where the company will be shutting down operations.
Employees in the U.K. and U.S. also lost their jobs, as part of the company’s efforts to reduce operating costs. Blockchain.com said its plans to expand into new countries had also been put on pause.
While momentum across markets is dragging down on some companies experiencing a hiring hangover, others are expanding and possibly scooping up talent that their competitors shed.
FTX has no plans to stop hiring new employees, Sam Bankman-Fried, the company’s CEO stated on June 6. The second-largest crypto exchange by volume behind Binance, according to data from CoinMarketCap, has approximately 250 employees.
“We’re going to keep pushing forward,” said Bankman-Fried in a Twitter thread. “Because we hired carefully, we can keep growing regardless of market conditions.”
Kraken said they have no intentions of making any layoffs and see the current market downturn as a “time to build,” the company stated in a blog post on June 15. It claims to not have adjusted its hiring plans and has 500 positions to fill throughout the remainder of this year.
In the statement, the company emphasized it is not guided by “short-term opportunities to maximize profit” and has learned how to navigate through tough times from experience with previous cycles, having been established back in 2011.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said Binance is bulking up as its competitors try to skinny down, announcing that the company is hiring 2000 employees the same day Kraken also revealed a push to hire more.
“It was not easy saying no to Super bowl ads,” the CEO said in a Tweet, implying that to have ponied up for the potential visibility would have not been in the company’s best interest.
“If we are in a crypto winter, we will leverage that, we will use that to the max,” Changpeng Zhao reportedly said, according to Fortune, at the Consensus 2022 conference in Austin, Texas, adding Binance has a “healthy war chest.”
Everstake, a Ukrainian-based Web3 company, offers customers high-yield accounts on staked cryptocurrency and “continues to grow its team,” adding 30 employees since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vlad Likhuta, the company’s head of growth told Decrypt in an email, also on June 14.
Polygon, the company known for its sidechain network that goes by the same name and allows for dapps to be scalably built on Ethereum, is growing as well, CEO Ryan Watt said in a Tweet on June 15, stating the company is striving to increase its headcount by around 15% by the end of this year.
The same day, Polygon’s Head of Remote Tyler Sellhorn asked people on Twitter who know individuals laid off from Coinbase and other Web3 companies to apply to Polygon, posting a link to the company’s job page in a subsequent Tweet.
Ripple is expanding and looking to hire hundreds more workers, it said in a June 15 tweet. The company, which runs a centralized payment rail for remittances and is locked in a lawsuit with the SEC, said, “We’re in a strong position and continuing to grow.”
The market capitalization of Ripple’s XRP is at $15 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Ripple CEO Brad Glaringhouse tweeted that the company has a “no assholes policy” and is seeking to fill a mixture of roles that are both “in person and remote.”
Nexo, a crypto lending platform, said it will continue growing throughout the bear market and is seeking to fill a range of positions that include engineers and marketers. The company claims to have tripled its headcount in the past year while keeping its “expenses optimized and fundamentals solid,” according to a tweet that directed talent to its hiring page.
“We are not spoiled by VCs, Hollywood actors & sports teams,” Nexo said. “We HODL and grow our people, regardless of market conditions.”
Circle, a Boston-based financial services and payments technology company founded in 2013, stated it’s “built for the long term” and will hire strategically over the next 18 months, according to a press release posted on the company’s website. The release said Circle has already hired hundreds of workers so far this year and that the company is “well positioned” to “build for the future,” regardless of how icy this crypto winter may get.
CoinDCX, an exchange headquartered in India and backed by investors that include Coinbase Ventures and BitMEX, told Decrypt the company is “bullish on hiring” and seeking to double its team to 1,000 employees from 500. The company emphasized that it is continuing to invest resources, despite a market downturn.
“As an organization that takes fundamentals of business very seriously, we have seen strong, sustainable growth,” a spokesperson for the exchange said. “We are on the lookout for more such crypto enthusiasts to join our team and grow along with CoinDCX.”
Solana, the blockchain platform with smart contract functionality similar to Ethereum, stated on July 1 its seeking systems engineers, product engineers, marketers, and designers amid the market downturn.
The company currently has about 100 employees but is leveraging the bear market as an opportunity to expand. Raj Gokal, co-founder and COO, said in a tweet it “seems like everyone else overhired” but that Solana is “still hiring,” adding an email address for job applications to the bottom of his statement.
Where from here?
Until cryptocurrency markets reverse their course, more companies could announce layoffs or even shutter entirely, and the downward trend in the prices of most digital assets could become exacerbated by a declining stock market or further economic turmoil.
However, some companies will take advantage of the opportunity and try to position themselves in hopes of capitalizing on the market’s recovery, whenever that may be.
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