But last week, Jia was one of a number of employees who received an email from Coinbase rescinding their job offers. For Jia, that not only meant losing a job but also, possibly, a visa.
“I’m an international student, and I need to keep my visa,” he told CNN Business. “Now, after Coinbase, I prefer to go to a bigger company because I worry about my visa.”
In a company-wide email sent Tuesday to employees announcing the mass layoff, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong pointed to a possible recession looming and growth that happened “too quickly.” Employees learned they had lost their jobs after finding themselves locked out of their work emails. “I realize that removal of access will feel sudden and unexpected, and this is not the experience I wanted for you,” Armstrong wrote.
The sudden reversal in hiring at Coinbase mirrors a broader trend in the crypto sector. A growing number of startups are slashing staff in order to survive a possible prolonged downturn in the crypto market and the broader economy, creating a sense of whiplash in the process among the many workers who joined these businesses with the belief that crypto was the next big thing.
“We appear to be entering a recession after a 10-plus year economic boom,” Armstrong wrote in his email to Coinbase staff. “A recession could lead to another crypto winter, and could last for an extended period.”
A fast-growing industry slams the brakes
For many workers, the sudden cutbacks have been jarring and cast doubt on the future of the industry.
“I was really, really happy when I got the job, and now it’s kind of like I’m grieving the loss,” said one recent grad who had a job offer rescinded by Coinbase and who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions to their career. Another almost-Coinbase employee who just graduated from college said: “My heart sank.”
Executives “are afraid to lose money, and I totally get that, but it shouldn’t be acceptable to hire someone and then fire them 40 days after,” Murillo Bargas, a laid off Bitso employee, told CNN Business. “They should have seen this coming. The crypto winter is no news to anyone.”
“I was in a room with an employee that was hired one week ago, so he just did the onboarding stuff, and then in the next week, he was fired,” Lucas Ferreira, a now-former Bitso employee, told CNN Business.
“Our workforce decisions are made in the long-term interest of our business to best support our clients and our strategy as a company,” a Bitso spokesperson told CNN Business.
“We are entering this crypto winter from a position of strength, and there’s really no way that we would ever emerge from the crypto winter in a weaker position,” Brian Shroder, CEO of Binance’s US arm, told CNN Business last week, prior to the hiring announcement. “In the last three days alone, we have interviewed six people from Coinbase and Gemini.”
As for when the crypto winter may end, it’s anyone’s guess. “That’s the beautiful thing about crypto: it literally ends next week, or we could be in it for over a year-plus,” said Shroder.
CNN Business’ Allison Morrow and Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.