Three executives of JP Morgan exited their roles and migrated to crypto firms. Interestingly, none of them has worked with the company's blockchain arm, Onyx.
The crypto winter is apparently no deterrent for those looking to switch from traditional finance to the digital asset industry. Earlier this week, three executives of investment banking mammoth JP Morgan exited their roles and migrated to crypto firms. Interestingly, none of them has worked with the company's blockchain arm, Onyx.
One of the first to jump ship was former MD Eric Wragge, who joined Algorand to head its business development and capital market functions. After spending over two decades in Wall Street corridors, Wragge will now drive initiatives in traditional finance and decentralised finance (DeFi) for Algorand.
During the same week, Puja Samuel, who headed ideation and digitisation at the banking giant, took up a corporate development role at CoinDesk's parent – the Digital Currency Group. Prior to Samuel and Wragge, another key executive, Samir Shah, switched from asset management sales at JP Morgan to become the chief operating officer (COO) at blockchain investment firm Pantera Capital.
These moves are surprising given the current state of the crypto market. The Terra fiasco of May 2022 set off a crescendo of events causing several big names in the market to come crashing down. The first to crumble was 3 Arrows Capital (3AC), followed by Voyager Digital LTD, BlockFi, and several others.
The recent events have instilled a deep mistrust within the market, and investors are quickly withdrawing funds, fearing further downturns. Coupled with the bitter crypto winter, these massive withdrawals have several crypto firms reeling from losses. Many lenders and exchanges have begun freezing trading activity to stem the bleeding. Some have even resorted to job cuts and moved into a hiring hiatus.
In June, crypto firms BlockFi, Gemini, Coinbase, and Crypto.com announced layoffs to the tune of 20 percent, 10 percent, 18 percent, and 5 percent of their workforce, respectively. They have all cited unprecedented financial challenges as the cause for downsizing their workforce.
The effects of the meltdown have spread worldwide, with crypto firms like 2TM, Bitso, Buenbit, BitPanda, Banxa, and many others also announcing job cuts. These are all large crypto firms, some of which have a global footprint.
For instance, 2TM is a Brazilian crypto company that controls LATM's largest crypto exchange, Mercado Bitcoin. On the other hand, Bitso and BuenBit are leading exchanges in Mexico and Argentina, respectively. Whereas BitPanda is one of Europe's fastest-growing FinTechs and Banxa, an Australian crypto firm, is touted as the leading global Web3 on-and-off ramp solution.
It makes one wonder why investment bankers would want to move to this vexed industry. Well, despite the job slashes, not all is lost for crypto firms. While some barely manage to stay afloat, others are taking the opportunity to grow amid all the distress.
Binance, FTX, Kraken, Polygon, and Blockchain.com are hiring for hundreds of open positions. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) tweeted in mid-June that the firm was hiring for 2,000 positions amid the downturns.
Around the same time, the sidechain network, Polygon announced that it is looking to expand its headcount by 15 percent by the end of 2022. The company's head of remote, Tyler Sellhorn, also took to Twitter, asking users to refer anyone laid off from Coinbase and other Web3 firms.
On July 2, 2022, Business Insider reported that Kraken has more than 500 positions it is waiting to fill by the end of this year. On the other hand, Blockchain.com reportedly has 113 open positions and is looking to hire staff in the US, UK, and Latin America. Indian crypto exchange, CoinDCX is also "bullish on hiring". The company is looking to double its workforce from 500 to 1,000 in the coming months.
Besides these firms, other companies looking to grow their employee base include the likes of Ripple, Circle, Nexo, Everstake, OpenSea, etc.
While the US Federal Reserve continues to grapple with record-high inflation levels with a hawkish stance on its monetary policy, crypto markets might be headed towards more headwinds. How well these firms utilise available capital will determine who survives this prolonged crypto winter and who doesn't.
First Published: IST