Somebody start

FTAlphaville again. This is the leading edge of a scene of carnage for crypto the likes of which we have not seen since the Millennium “dot bomb”. 

Virtually no crypto investor will be old enough to remember the bursting of that bubble which culminated in the success of the website All it did was track the demise and fall of the bubble high flyers before it, too, went bust.   

If you want to make yourself famous for a few months then grab the URL and start tracking each and every dying token. It will be a laugh a minute as traffic booms.

If only Coinbase’s recruitment drive over the past year had brought in some human resources experts.

The $11bn valued digital token shop revealed it was firing 1,100 people — about 18 per cent of its staff — on the back of a hiring freeze, retractions of job offers, and an employee revolt that was met by CEO Brian Armstrong telling employees in a Twitter thread: “quit and find a company to work at that you believe in!”

Sounds like he really meant it. The firings were explained in a blog post on Tuesday from Armstrong, who said he believes that recession is on the horizon, crypto markets are entering another “winter” and the company needs to cut costs.

He also said that terminated employees will receive the news to their personal addresses (emphasis ours):

In the next hour every employee will receive an email from HR informing if you are affected or unaffected by this lay-off. Every affected employee will receive an invitation to have a direct conversation with your HRBP and the senior leader of your organisation.

If you are affected, you will receive this notification in your personal email, because we made the decision to cut access to Coinbase systems for affected employees. I realise that removal of access will feel sudden and unexpected, and this is not the experience I wanted for you. Given the number of employees who have access to sensitive customer information, it was unfortunately the only practical choice, to ensure not even a single person made a rash decision that harmed the business or themselves.

Or to put it more succinctly:

Cannot believe coinbase is airdropping firings now

— Chairman Birb Bernanke 🌿 (@Bonecondor) June 14, 2022

The firings follow Coinbase’s launch of an NFT-trading platform that was described by TechCrunch as lacklustre. They also follow a WSJ report showing that executives have brought home more than $1bn with share sales since Coinbase’s public offering in 2021.

One of the employees’ public complaints was about overhiring, so we suppose this could be seen as a win for them. And the 6,200 number is indeed eyebrow-raising. Crypto competitor FTX has 536 employees listed on LinkedIn at the moment. has “about 300” employees, according to a tweet from CEO Sam Bankman-Fried published after this story went live.

We have questions and, in the spirit of DeFi, will seek the answers using decentralised reporting:

  • What on earth were they all doing?
  • How many of them were involved in creating the ad promising that “crypto isn’t dead” despite Bitcoin’s 50 per cent year-to-date decline? When it was posted three weeks ago, Bitcoin was down slightly less than 40 per cent, so perhaps more optimism was warranted? Quasi-bank Celsius was also still allowing customers to trade (though there had been some signs of trouble).
  • What are the remaining 5,000 employees at Coinbase going to be doing, and how many of them plan to stick around after the past month’s HR dust-ups?

We fear the 1,200 folks hired this year may be among the first out. Those affected are invited to contact us via any email account they can still access, or leave thoughts in the comment box.

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