NEW YORK, NY – MAY 15: Coinbase Founder and CEO Brian Armstrong attends Consensus 2019 at the … [+] Hilton Midtown on May 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Cryptocurrency platform Coinbase previously announced at the beginning of June, “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.”
There was a public backlash on social media sites as people who have the rugged pulled out from under them, shared their tales of being jobless after excitedly anticipating a new position with the top-tier crypto platform. This action may have catalyzed an uprising among disenchanted Coinbase employees.
Coinbase Employees Call For the Removal Of Top Executives
Coinbase employees who were concerned over the rescinded offers and other decisions taken by management started an online Petition to remove top executives including COO Emilie Choi, Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee, and Chief People Officer LJ Brock “in a Vote of No Confidence.”
The workers criticized management saying in the petition, “the executive team has recently been making decisions that are not in the best interests of the Company, its employees, and its shareholders” and these decisions have “led to questionable results and negative value.” They cited the following reasons for their discontent.
- The failure of the Coinbase NFT platform
- The over-prioritization of certain products, which has led to a lack of focus on other important issues like infrastructure
- Initiatives like the Dot Collector and the Performance review system that has led to a toxic workplace culture
- Aggressively hiring for thousands of roles, despite the fact that it is an unsustainable plan and is contrary to the wisdom of the crypto industry
- Not being able to output any higher or better quality products and services despite aggressively hiring more employees
- Rescinding offers to new employees despite promising them that their offers would not be rescinded two weeks earlier, leading to a massive negative reception from the public and the industry at-large
- The failure to communicate important ideas and plans to the rest of the company, such as the possibility of lay-offs and the plan to fix many technical debts
- A generally apathetic and sometimes condescending attitude from the CPO, COO, and Chief People Officer
The group added that the actions of senior management have “hurt multiple parties.” They claimed that leadership made “unrealistic demands” which contributed to the company’s stock price plummeting, hurting shareholders, an accompanying loss of morale among the staff, and “threats of losing top talent.”
Chief Executive Brian Armstrong Took to Twitter to Push Back On The Petition
This isn’t the first time Armstrong came out with a bold ‘leave if you’re not happy’ edict to employees. In October 2020, the CEO of the Silicon Valley-based cryptocurrency exchange told his employees that he won’t stand for politics and the championing of social issues at the office. Armstrong bluntly said that he’d gladly offer severance packages to employees who aren’t comfortable with the new corporate policy of “political neutrality” in the workplace.
The chief executive wrote in a letter to employees, “Life is too short to work at a company that you aren’t excited about. Hopefully, this package helps create a win-win outcome for those who choose to opt out.” Around sixty employees took Armstrong up with his offer and left the firm.
Armstrong, in his recent tweet storm, wrote about the employee rebellion, “This is really dumb on multiple levels. if you want to do a vote of no confidence, you should do it on me and not blame the execs.” He added, “Who do you think is running this company? I was a little offended not to be included :).”
The forthright executives laid down the gauntlet, “if you have no confidence in the execs or CEO of a company then why are you working at that company? Quit and find a company to work at that you believe in!”
The embattled leader agreed that “making suggestions on how to improve the company is a great idea (in fact, we expect everyone to be a part of that),” however it’s “our culture is to praise in public and criticize in private. If you’re unhappy about something, work as part of the team to raise it along with proposed solutions (it’s easy to be a critic, harder to be a part of the solution).” In no uncertain terms, Armstrong let the petitioners know that “If you can’t do that and you’re going to leak/rant externally then quit. Thanks!”
Here’s Why This Is Happening
Brock and other business leaders may have been influenced to make tough belt-tightening decisions due to the bleak economic outlook. We are seeing rapidly plunging prices of both stocks and cryptocurrencies. Runaway inflation, supply chain disruptions, large increases in the costs of goods and services, and concerns over a likely upcoming recession or possible stagflation are of concern for executives at all types of companies. There is fear concerning a potential escalation of the Russian war against Ukraine. The Federal Reserve Bank stalled financial stimulus programs, changed course, and announced a quantitative tightening program.
According to Brock’s corporate blog post about the hiring pause and offer rescissions, “this is not a decision [it makes] lightly,” Coinbase believes that by taking “more stringent measures to slow [its] headcount growth” and “adapting quickly and acting now,” the hiring freezes and reversing job offers will save money and serve as part of a larger strategy to “successfully navigate this macro environment and emerge even stronger, enabling further healthy growth and innovation.”
What People Who Had Their Offers Rescinded Said About Their Situation
Ashutosh Ukey: Hello everyone, On March 9th, I received an offer from Coinbase for a Backend Software Engineer Role. Since then, I was mainly deciding between this offer and an offer of a CS Ph.D. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
After considering several factors, I had chosen to join Coinbase over pursuing a Ph.D. Unfortunately, I just got an email today saying my offer had been rescinded (as well as those of many other people) due to a massive hiring plan change by Coinbase.
This was devastating to me as I was going to start on a STEM OPT VISA and I am only allowed a certain number of days on unemployment. I had even rejected three Ph.D. offers and declined to interview at other companies since I had accepted Coinbase’s offer in mid-March. All of these other options are no longer available to me.
After having planned so much for the next stage of my life, seeing it fall apart so quickly was heartbreaking. If anyone knows of openings for entry-level Software Engineering roles (that can sponsor F1 students), your help would be very much appreciated in these trying times.
Sarah Bern: About a month ago, I accepted a job offer to join Coinbase as a Senior Data Scientist. Last Wednesday was my last day at Facebook, and in an unfortunate turn of events, Thursday I found out that my offer was among those rescinded due to market downturn, despite an expected start date of only a week away. I’m certainly disappointed in the way these events unfolded, but am excited to look towards new opportunities. If you know anyone hiring for data science or analytics, please reach out!
Xingcheng Rong: Several days ago, I was at rock bottom since Coinbase rescinded the offer. Back in March, I signed an offer to start as a software engineer at Coinbase after graduating. I was so excited to start a new page in my life. Renting a house, booking flights to San Jose, learning fintech industry knowledge.
All things changed since last week. I was depressed for a few days. As an international student, I know how difficult to search for a job especially in such a tight time (since I was going to start on a STEM OPT VISA and I will only have 90 days of grace period days).
I spent six years studying in the US. There are many great tech companies in the US. I hope that I could have an opportunity to leverage my skills to work here. I don’t want six years of computer science study to go to waste just because an offer rescind.
Megan Schuller, Ph.D.: Hey LinkedIn, I was eager to start my new job at Coinbase this Monday, June 6th. I was set to join the Talent Effectiveness team, helping to optimize the candidate experience and to design programs to ensure employee success. Unfortunately, my offer has been rescinded as well as several others.
I’m currently looking for opportunities in the Talent Development and Employee Engagement space. If you or anyone you know is hiring, I’d love to connect. Please comment, share, or DM. Thank you.
What’s Going On With Cryptocurrencies?
The Wall Street Journal reported that “Coinbase shares are down 77% so far this year and about 83% off their November record high of $357. On Friday, shares fell 7.9% to $58.71.” The WSJ added, “The entire crypto sector is under pressure given the sustained selloff in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. That has forced many to cut costs and abandon plans that seemed feasible just months ago.”