Hiring, Firing & Lying: Crypto Winter’s Big Purge

Hiring, Firing & Lying: Crypto Winter’s Big Purge
21 August 2022

Crypto winter has taken a toll on market participants across the board, causing companies to rebalance their finances and readjust their labour forces.

Over 4,000 jobs are approximated to have been lost in the space since May, whilst searches for “remote crypto jobs” has grown by 560% worldwide this month.

But how has this reshuffle impacted the crypto landscape post-purge?

In the Firing Squad:

Crypto.com [-5% (and counting)]

Most recently, Decrypt uncovered that Crypto.com “lied” about only laying off 5% (260 employees) in June. Instead, the Singapore-based crypto exchange company is engaging in a second round of layoffs, which are cited to be worse than in June.

During a company call, “leadership expressed they had no intention of going public,” Decrypt’s source said. “Top management is unlikely to do an announcement as, after the June layoffs, they claimed that everyone’s job was safe, and that no more layoffs will happen.”

“The business is cutting down to bare minimum to survive the likely long bear market—internal initiatives are about trying to save every penny,” the source added.

Another source echoed a similar message to The Verge. Initially the staff were told that “layoffs would impact 5%, 260 employees only,” but then “people in the company recently noticed many employees disappearing from our internal slack or scheduled meetings.”

“Due to the lack of internal transparency, one can only estimate the extent of this layoff round: we increased our staff by ~50 percent since 2021, and almost all of them were hired to fuel growth. Now it seems these additional ~1,300 staff are viewed as costs to be reduced, in order to save the business,” the source continued.

At the same time, the Singapore-based exchange has just brought on board ex-government official Chin Tah Ang as its general manager in its Little Red Dot headquarters.

Genesis [-20%]

Genesis is also taking similar measures as Crypto.com (minus the lying) in reducing its 260-person workforce by 20%, after announcing major losses linked to the 3AC fallout.

Whilst Genesis managed to mitigate 3AC losses, it failed to meet a margin call. Its parent company Digital Currency Group had assumed some of its liabilities.

The move comes as CEO Michael Moro steps down, with current chief operating officer Derar Islim replacing him in the interim as the company searches for a replacement.

Islim said the changes “affirms our commitment to operational excellence,” adding that Genesis will continue to expand their services.

“Genesis was not immune to the market drop and the damage to overall sentiment,” the company said in a report. “As we’ve stated publicly, Genesis had loan exposure to Three Arrows Capital. Our parent company DCG assumed the liability related to losses on these loans, leaving our balance sheet healthy so Genesis could continue to be a source of strength for our clients.”

Blockchain.com [-25%]

Again citing 3AC exposure and harsh market conditions, Blockchain.com is laying of 25% of its staff, which equates to about 150 roles. Furthermore, the platform is shutting down its office in Argentina whilst scrapping expansion plans.

Some 44% of the layoffs are in Argentina, 26% in the US and 16% in the UK.

The firm had lent US$270 million to 3AC and is expecting to write the sum off as a loss.

Blockchain.com had itself lent 3AC $270 million in crypto and is expecting to lose that sum.

BlockFi [-20%]

In June, crypto lender BlockFi said it was cutting 20% of its 850-person team.

In a series of tweets, CEO Zac Prince said BlockFi had been impacted by the “dramatic shift in macroeconomic conditions,” leaving a “negative impact” on growth.

Prince said the ultimate goal for BlockFi is “to achieve profitability,” adding that the company is “here for the long haul.” Describing the job cut as “gutwrenching,” Prince reassured that “clients will not experience any material changes to the quality of service they have come to expect, their funds are safeguarded, and all platforms and products continue to operate normally.”

Nonetheless, BlockFi cofounder Flori Marquez insisted that the layoff was planned and the timing was coincidental.

BlockFi is also cutting down on marketing spending, reducing non-critical vendors and slowing headcount growth.

That said, BlockFi has been named the fastest growing company in the US in 2022, experiencing 245,616% growth – 99,000% more the second-place company.

BlockFi was also bailed out by FTX in June with a US$250 million revolving credit facility.

Coinbase [-18%]

Crypto giant Coinbase has laid off around 18% of its workforce or about 1,100 employees as part of its cost cutting plan.

CEO Brian Armstrong said the company “grew too quickly” in the bull market, scaling from 1,250 employees to over 6,000 last quarter.

Armstrong also cited “economic conditions” and “managing costs in down markets” as reasons for the job cutting.

Coinbase even rescinded new job offers, with outgoing employees receiving they were being let go via email.

The New York listed company has seen its share price plummet over 65% YTD with a 52-week-low and high of US$40.83 and US$368.90 respectively.

Bybit[30%]

In June, it was reported that Bybit was cutting 30% of its 2,000 strong workforce. The Singapore headquarted company issued an internal letter from CEO Ben Zhou stating the firm “grew so fast” during the most recent crypto bull market, and “grew too comfortable.”

“Our organization size grew exponentially but the overall business growth did not grow in the same way,” Zhou said.

Addressing those affected, Zhou said “we did our best to smoothen the transition for you, we will offer severance package and the Employee Assistance Program.”

Read more: Bybit Latest to Cut Jobs Amid Crypto Winter

“After growing through this, you will find Bybit a place only for true believers who shared the same faith to grow the company from Good to the Best!”

A Bybit spokesperson told CoinDesk, “we are exploring a way to remove overlapping functions and build smaller but more agile teams to improve our efficiency. Starting from this week, some of the functions and roles will be reviewed to ensure we stay focused and agile.”

OpenSea [-20%]

Last month, OpenSea laid off 20% of its workforce. In a note to staff, CEO Devin Finzer said “the reality is that we have entered an unprecedented combination of crypto winter and broad macroeconomic instability, and we need to prepare the company for the possibility of a prolonged downturn.”

He added that the layoffs will help the company reposition the company to brave the cold market conditions.

“With the hard (but important) changes we made today, we’re in an even better position to capture what will soon become the largest market on the planet,” Finzer added.

Hodlnaut [-80%]

After freezing withdrawals, Hodlnaut has since laid off about 40 employees, or 80% of its workforce, to reduce over heads.

The company also announced that the platform has applied for to be placed under judicial management, so it can avoid liquidation, which would not be beneficial to its users. In an email on Friday, Hodlnaut said judicial management gives it the “opportunity to execute its recovery plan and rehabilitate the company.”

Read more: SG Hodlnaut Stakers Reveal Why They Didn’t Withdraw Ahead of Freeze

Hodlnaut said it is exploring the possibility of allowing users to withdraw their initial deposit with accrued interest, at a discount, though this decision rests on the judicial manager. It will also change all open term interest rates to 0% APR from 22 August, 5pm to reduce its burn rate.

You’re Hired

Coinhako

Despite unsettling market conditions, Coinhako has been relishing in its position of holding a full MAS license.

The Singapore crypto exchange is planning to expand in Asia over the coming year including acuiqisitions and hiring.

“Small acquisitions or some kind of acquisition is definitely on the table,” Collin Cheong, director for corporate development said to Forkast. “We do have the expertise to go into different markets to set up our own shop as well. So either going in ourselves, or partnering with someone or an acquisition.”

Cheong added that its experience with MAS has given it the confidence to deal with other Asian regulatory bodies. Coinhako has already expanded its compliance team more than twofold since 2021.

“Platforms like ourselves need to ensure that there are certain standards in place to ensure users understand the risk of engaging in crypto assets or digital assets in general, and educating users as well,” he said. “So that’s probably the bulk of where the cost of compliance is going.”

Cheong also revealed that Coinhako’s reserves are enough to keep them comfortable amid crypto winter.

“There are going to be bear markets in the crypto space, just like any industry, and (we) need to have sufficient provisions for that,” he said.

Bitget [+100%]

Bitget has reported seeing an influx of job applicants as a result of industry layoffs across the board. The exchange is seeking to double its workforce to 1,000 people by year-end.

Positions are opening up specifically in operations, product development and customer services.

Managing director Gracy Chen said crypto winter has given the firm “a golden window” to achieve low-cost, high-quality growth.

“Oftentimes, a company’s success is very visible during a bull market, however, the foundation was likely established during a bear market,” Chen said. “Regardless of the market conditions, it was a pressing business need for us to push forward with our hiring plans to pave way for new developments to come.”

OKX [+30%]

OXX has announced it plans to increase its headcount by 30% to 5,000 over the next 12 months.

“Seeing people in our community losing their jobs is quite unsettling,” an OKX spokesperson told Blockworks. “Our focus right now is to see if we can be the home for the incredible talent in our industry who may have been impacted by the recent layoffs.”

Job opportunities will open up in product design, engineering and marketing. OXC has seen applications increase over the past few months, reaching new highs.

The exchange is targeting professionals in product design, engineering and marketing as its main focus shifts to building a leading brand in the space.  

“This is a great time to hire talent who are coming to the industry not just for the hype but rather because of their pure passion for building,” the spokesperson added.

Cake DeFi

Cake DeFi has taken an aggressive stance to hiring, adding 34 new team members at the start of the most recent quarter and ending with 140. Half of the hires are based in Singapore.

“Cake remains one of the few crypto companies still hiring,” the company said in its quarterly Transparency Report published this week.

In Q3, the platform is expecting to hire a VP of people, VP of design and a chief marketing officer. “We are planning to hold our next company-wide retreat in Singapore in October, after the success we had with our Dubai retreat in May,” the company added.

Jobs listed on Cake DeFi’s site include positions in R&D, BD, HR, legal, marketing, operations and tech. The majority of the openings are listed as remote and/or in Singapore.

Blockhead Team
Newsletter graphic

Info Blocks In Your Inbox.

If you want relevant updates occasionally, sign up for the private newsletter. Your email is never shared.

Subscribe to our newsletter