Hao Jia was so convinced in the potential of cryptocurrencies that he passed up a job at a large tech firm, Oracle, to take another offer he received in early April to be a software engineer at one of the buzziest crypto startups, Coinbase.
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.
After initially planning to hire up to 2,000 more employees this year, citing "enormous product opportunities ahead," Coinbase has abruptly shifted course.
In recent days, the cryptocurrency exchange, which was once valued at nearly $100 billion, has rescinded offers, implemented a hiring freeze and laid off 18% of its work force.
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.
In a tweet Saturday, Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek announced that the Singapore-based exchange will be laying off about 260 workers, or 5% of its workforce.
Another large exchange platform, Gemini Exchange, announced last week that it would be laying off 10% of staffers.
And Crypto lending platform BlockFi said it is cutting around 20% of its workforce.