Coinbase lays off 18% of its workforce. The CEO cites an upcoming crypto winter : NPR

The mobile phone icon for the Coinbase app is shown in New York on April 13, 2021.

Richard Drew/AP


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Richard Drew/AP


The mobile phone icon for the Coinbase app is shown in New York on April 13, 2021.

Richard Drew/AP

The cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase laid off about 18% of its workforce — or about 1,100 people — on Tuesday, the company’s CEO and cofounder Brian Armstrong announced. The company’s website says it had more than 4,900 employees.

Armstrong blamed an impending recession in the U.S. and an upcoming “crypto winter” as the reasons for the company to be making these drastic cuts. A “crypto winter” is when prices “contract and remain low for an extended period,” according to Forbes.

Armstrong said: “In past crypto winters, trading revenue (our largest revenue source) has declined significantly. While it’s hard to predict the economy or the markets, we always plan for the worst so we can operate the business through any environment.”

But he also admitted that the company has grown too quickly. Coinbase went public last year — becoming the first major cryptocurrency company to do so.

“While we tried our best to get this just right, in this case it is now clear to me that we over-hired,” Armstrong said.

For some employees, the news was delivered abruptly. The company cut access to Coinbase systems for employees affected by the layoff. Because of this, notifications went out to the workers’ personal email addresses.

“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,” Armstrong said.