Coinbase freezes hiring, rescinds job offers: ‘Coinbase ghosted me’

Coinbase is losing money. Its stock is in the toilet. Now, the largest crypto exchange in the US says it’s extending its hiring freeze and rescinding job offers.

L.J. Brock, Coinbase’s chief people officer, shared the grim news in a blog post on Thursday. It’s been only two weeks since the San Francisco firm initially announced plans to pause hiring. Yesterday’s blog post signals just how dire things have become:

“In response to the current market conditions and ongoing business prioritization efforts, we will extend our hiring pause for both new and backfill roles for the foreseeable future and rescind a number of accepted offers.”

The announcement comes on the same day Gemini said it would be trimming 10% of its staff. In a blog post, co-founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss attributed the layoffs to “turbulent market conditions that are likely to persist for some time.” 

Coincidently, a CFTC lawsuit also dropped on Thursday claiming Gemini misled regulators to gain approval for a bitcoin futures product it was pursuing in 2017.

Coinbase is struggling to turn a profit. Last month, it posted a $430 million loss for Q1 2022 after missing analysts’ predictions on both profit and revenue for the quarter. The exchange said it was bleeding users. 

The company’s stock price (Nasdaq: COIN) is down more than 70% since the beginning of the year and is currently trading at $74 per share. It’s hard to imagine that COIN was as high as $343 in November 2021. 

The tumble in Coinbase’s stock price coincides with the crypto markets. Bitcoin has barely been able to keep its head above $30,000, after losing 60% of its value since its November record. The stock market is also suffering. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite is down 22% since January.  

‘Coinbase ghosted me’

Leading up to 2022, Coinbase planned to triple its workforce. The firm hired 1,200 people in the first quarter and had 3,730 employees at the end of last year, according to its latest earnings report. Now, it’s not even calling some people back after extending job offers. 

I spoke with one person, whose name I won’t reveal, who said Coinbase offered him a job as a security engineer in January. The man, who is in his 30s and has a decade of experience at FAANG companies, told me he had a verbal offer from Coinbase after an interview panel. But then he was ghosted and never heard from them again. 

“I honestly was only interested in getting a competitive offer to better my negotiation at other places I was interviewing,” he told me in a private message. “So grateful Coinbase ghosted me.”

Otherwise, had he gotten the offer in writing, he might have seriously considered taking the job, even as a no-coiner. The comp in the verbal offer was tempting. 

Coinbase offered him a $280,000 base salary plus a 15% bonus and $600,000 annual equity, for total compensation of $920,000, he said.

“We don’t do a four-year program where you vest 25% each year. We don’t have a cliff either, so you start vesting immediately on a quarterly basis,” Coinbase told him.

The company has performance multipliers and suggested that potentially, he could make $1.5 million annually. 

Coinbase has a 2% 401(k) matching program. As an employee, he would get one month off per year along with unlimited paid time off. That’s in addition to four companywide weeks off.

In January, Coinbase proudly announced that the entire company would shut down for one week at the end of each quarter so employees could “recharge.” 

Oh, and there’s a $500 monthly wellness stipend, in case you want to join a gym or take yoga.

After the interview, the would-be employee got an email from the recruiter saying that things went great and they wanted to extend an offer. The recruiter asked if comp would be okay before they put the contract together.

And then, nothing. 

It was just as well, he told me. “Because the equity would have cut in half, and the company will look far worse after the coming collapse.”

Other would-be employees aren’t so relieved. On Blind, an anonymous app for the workforce, someone wrote: “I was supposed to start jun 6th. My offer has been rescinded. This feels like a nightmare that I can’t wait to wake up from.” 

“Dodged a bullet,” a Coinbase employee replied. 

Why rescinding job offers is bad

Rescinding job offers at the last minute is a nasty thing to do to people, especially if they’ve already submitted notice at their current job, told their landlord they are moving, or put their home up for sale. 

It can also blacken the offering company’s reputation. Word gets out, and you’ll have a much harder time convincing people to work for you in the future. It also makes Coinbase’s financial health look worse like they’ve somehow managed to run out of cash running a casino.

Meanwhile, Coinbase execs aren’t doing too bad for themselves. In 2020, including stock options and bonuses, CEO Brian Armstrong made $59 million, Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee made $16 million, and Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal made $18 million, according to SEC filings

Hacker News is outraged. Coinbase did in any hope of hiring competent non-hodlers.

Here’s what Blotto_Otter on Something Awful wrote: 

“When I read stuff like this, all I can think about is when I started in public accounting right in the middle of the 2007/2008 crash, and out of all the unpleasant stuff most accounting firms did during that time — layoffs, hiring freezes, salary freezes and cuts, benefit cuts — the one thing they did not do was revoke job offers from people who had already accepted offers. They did everything but that because they understood that that is the one thing that will make your name mud when it comes to recruiting new hires in the future.”

Also, Coinbase could potentially get sued for reneging on job offers, if it extended a no-caveat offer and the would-be employee can prove they suffered losses. National Law Review wrote about this in 2019.

In its blog post, Coinbase said it was extending its severance policy to individuals it offered jobs and would notify them by email. Blind posted a copy of the rescind email, along with another email Coinbase sent to new hires two weeks ago telling them it would not rescind job offers. What’s next? Layoffs?

It’s just a shame Coinbase doesn’t put its job offers on the blockchain.  

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