Gemini Joins Growing List of Crypto Exchanges Cutting Staff Amid Downturn

Gemini is the fourth prominent crypto exchange to lay off staff since April, proving the market sell-off is starting to bite


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key takeaways

  • Gemini raised venture capital funds as recently as February, but it still hasn’t dodged the slump
  • Crypto exchanges BitMEX, Buenbit, Bitso have all cut staff in recent months

Gemini, the crypto firm founded by ‘first bitcoin billionaires’ Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, is cutting 10% of its staff.

In a Tuesday memo sent to Gemini employees, the twins cited the ongoing crypto downturn alongside macroeconomic and geopolitical factors as reasons for the downsize, reported Bloomberg.

The Winklevosses referred to the current crypto climate as a “contraction phase” that’s now “settling into a period of stasis,” a point in the market cycle which has come to be known as “crypto winter.” 

Bitcoin and ether are respectively down 37% and 51% in the year to date. Crypto’s total market capitalization has fallen for the past eight weeks in a row — from around $2.13 trillion to $1.23 trillion.

Gemini has several operational components, including crypto exchanges (both retail and institutional), custody services and over-the-counter trading. Its physical offices are closed today, and staff affected by the layoffs are to receive calendar invites for remote meetings to discuss separation packages (including healthcare benefits), according to Bloomberg. 

The New York-headquartered company will reportedly hold a larger meeting Friday to discuss its future. There’s no word on exactly how many staff members will lose their jobs; LinkedIn ranks Gemini’s headcount at a little more than 1,000.

The news of layoffs also comes on the same day as the US Commodities Futures and Trade Commission suing Gemini for allegedly misleading regulators over potential risks associated with bitcoin futures contracts the firm had hoped to launch in 2017.

Gemini most recently raised funds in February, according to Crunchbase, a private round contributed by Tim Draper co-founded venture capital fund Draper Dragon. Before that, a $400 million round led by hedge fund Morgan Creek Digital valued Gemini at $7.1 billion.

The cuts come despite a recent string of venture capital raises in the space, including Andreessen Horowitz’s mammoth $4.5 billion fund. Still, considering the flurry of layoff announcements over the past month, the ecosystem could soon see more cuts.

Gemini is not the first to lay off staff this year. In April, crypto derivatives platform BitMEX shed 75 employees (about a quarter of its workforce); Argentinian exchange Buenbit let go 80 employees — almost half of its roster — while Latin America’s Bitso also let go of 80 employees, representing 11% of its personnel.

While not strictly a crypto exchange, discount brokerage Robinhood (which has its own crypto division), also laid off 9% of its full-time employees in April, which is estimated to have been around 300 people. The crypto industry saw similar widespread downsizing throughout its previous crypto winter spanning 2019 and 2020.

The growing wave of layoffs hasn’t quite made its way to Coinbase, although reports surfaced last month indicating that the top US exchange would freeze hiring for two weeks and enforce cost-cutting measures after posting lackluster earnings in May.

On Thursday, Coinbase extended its hiring freeze indefinitely and said it would rescind a number of accepted offers.

This story was updated at 2:38pm ET on June 2 2022 with details of the CFTC’s lawsuit against Gemini, and again at 6:05am ET on June 3 2022 to include Coinbase’s latest statement.

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