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Coinbase lays off around 20% of its workforce as crypto downturn continues

Coinbase said it would lay off about 20% of its employees.
Richard Drew
Coinbase said it would lay off about 20% of its employees.

The cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase is laying off 950 employees — around 20% of its workforce — due to the continued downturn in the crypto market and the broader economy, the company announced. This latest round of job cuts comes after the company laid off about 1,100 people back in June.

Coinbase said it had around 4,700 employees in September following the cuts made earlier last year. But the first round of layoffs wasn't enough to keep the company in a good financial position during an ongoing crypto winter, Brian Armstrong, the CEO and co-founder of Coinbase, said in a blog post.

Last year was an extremely volatile one for the crypto space. Bitcoin is currently down more than 70% from its all-time high reached in November 2021. And several crypto companies, including BlockFi, Celsius and the scandal-ridden cryptocurrency exchange FTX, collapsed in 2022. Its founder Sam Bankman-Fried is now facing several criminal charges.

"As we examined our 2023 scenarios, it became clear that we would need to reduce expenses to increase our chances of doing well in every scenario. While it is always painful to part ways with our fellow colleagues, there was no way to reduce our expenses significantly enough, without considering changes to headcount," Armstrong wrote.

As part of the reduction in force, Coinbase is also "shutting down several projects where we have a lower probability of success," Armstrong added.

Armstrong also blamed " unscrupulous actors in the industry" for the volatility and "contagion" in the market— a veiled swipe at FTX, formerly one of the biggest players in the crypto space.

"Coinbase is well capitalized, and crypto isn't going anywhere. In fact, I believe recent events will ultimately end up benefiting Coinbase greatly (a large competitor failing, emerging regulatory clarity, etc.), and they validate our long term strategy," Armstrong wrote. But that will take time to come to fruition, he added.

The employees in the U.S. who were laid off will be getting a minimum of 14 weeks base pay severance (with two additional weeks per year worked), health insurance, and other benefits, the company said. "Transition support" will also be given to impacted employees who have work visas, Armstrong said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.
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