Coinbase to lay off 18% of staff (1,110 people) because the company grew too quickly and a potential recession "could lead to another crypto winter"
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- Crypto Exchange Coinbase to Lay Off 18% of Staff
- Caitlin Ostroff
- Jun 14 2022
- Word count
- 89 words
I'm really struggling with the fact that Coinbase apparently has felt a need for over 5000 employees.
To put that into context, the whole of the Frankfurt bourse has around 2500 employees at its headquarters. They run Germany's largest stock exchange, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, among other things.
The whole of the Deutsche Börse group has around 10000 employees worldwide.
Coinbase has (had) high ambitions. They are building not just the exchange, but also the client, and Robinhood (now webull and others) proved that a slick UI can be the most important part. Also, let’s be honest, crypto is just much harder and more annoying to work with technically than the stock market infrastructure, which, while old, is straightforward.
A big part of the overhires is that recruiting engineers is incredibly hard (well, in the last few years anyway - maybe this will change) so the thought is, better to just keep hiring, keep the pipelines and university recruiting firing and figure out what to do with the engineers later, because if you want to spin up a new project and need good engineers to man it, it’ll take months to do all that hiring. Much easier to just move people internally.
Funny you mention recruiters. A friend of mine was recruiting for them last I heard!
My own company is going through some restructuring right now, and so projects have been few and far between while things get sorted out. And I'm starting to get boredom related burnout because of it, which is not helped by the fact that we're still expected to be 'working'.
My point being, I really wonder what it would be like to work at a company like the one you describe. Because as bad as my own workplace can be, I can't imagine just going into work with nothing to do, no end in sight and still being expected to be busy. It seems like without a comparatively lax work culture, and some kind of system of fairly distributing whatever work there is to do, it would be a pretty stressful environment to work in.
Well, that's really going to depend on the kind of person you are. It can be either really boring or a really sweet deal. The bad is that, of course, if you are energized by work and impact, well, you're on dashboard building duty. Additionally, non-trivial promos will be out of reach (e.g a L5 -> L6 transition in the Google parlance).
On the other hand, well, you don't have much to do. You don't have hard deadlines, your on-call shifts are easy. You're probably not even going to crest 40 hours/week. I had a very brief stint where I was in a similar limbo between teams, and once you learn to adjust, it can be great. I probably worked <15 hours a week, and I was still being paid full salary (at the time it was ~200k cash + ~100k stock). If you calculated the effectively hourly rate it'd be ridiculous.
I would WFH half the week, and the other half I would be taking 2 hour lunches, talking to coworkers as much as possible, and still getting all the work I was supposed to do done.
At these high growth tech companies, it really clicked when a friend got promoed into the manager ladder and I learned what it was like from that side. Mid and line managers are these high growth startups are the most stressed people there by far, they get fired the most easily, they are given kobayashi maru-esque tasks, they're beholden to esoteric impact metrics. No one cares if you look busy, because your line manager has 40 hours of meeting a week and is stressed beyond belief, if you're not being an nuisance and finishing your tickets that is more than fine from their angle.
But they have a lot of VC money and Bitcoin to burn.
I'm not sure that's a fair comparison since Coinbase has retail customer accounts, and a stock exchange presumably doesn't? Retail businesses tend to require more staff, though being online-only helps.
You might also compare with Charles Schwab, which has 33,400 employees, or Vanguard, which has 18,800.
Maybe we should look at the customer to employee ratio?
But another issue is that contracting and outsourcing can make it harder to do fair comparisons.
I can only assume it's to make them look as credible as possible. Same as buying an ad on Times Square or sponsoring a stadium.