Fired Crypto Workers Weigh Up Life After Boom

On July 14, James Hu was sitting in his “quite expensive” apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He had just returned from the Soho offices of OpenSea, a non-fungible token market, where he was fired from his job and his work computer was switched off.

The incident wasn’t exactly a big blow to Hu, who had seen massive crypto layoffs all summer long. According to DappRadar, with NFT prices falling, OpenSea was suddenly experiencing a 90% drop in transactions, and was bringing in very little money – a dramatic reversal of the rapid growth that led to Hu’s hiring in January was. His position, first in business operations then in product, was jury-rigged from the start. “I applied for a role that didn’t exist,” he recalled. “They just played a role for me because they were probably like, ‘Oh, that’s like a smart guy who likes NFTs. Let’s just get him.'”

But, like many crypto companies, OpenSea’s fortunes turned in the second quarter, with CEO Devin Finzer citing an “unprecedented combination of crypto winter and broader macroeconomic instability” for its decision to lay off 20% of OpenSea’s workforce. According to layoffs.fyi, Hu has laid off nearly 50 of his colleagues in the cryptocurrency industry and more than 4,000 additional workers since April. The cuts represent a drastic awakening for cryptocurrency workers after two years of fever dreams. “People I’ve spoken to have described the past 12 months as a massive crackdown,” Hu said. “Everyone was getting so rich that we couldn’t think clearly.”

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