On Thursday Before starting his new job at Coinbase, Sam Maher received an email with the subject line “Update to your Coinbase offer.” The update was that there was no offer. In response to “current market conditions”, the startup had eliminated a number of incoming positions, leaving Maher suddenly unemployed and feeling like he had been broken up by email.
The same email reached hundreds of other potential Coinbase employees, who had start dates ranging from the following week to late summer. Vijay Duraiswamy, a software development manager, had already started the onboarding process on a company-issued laptop. Others had signed leases, moved to different cities or taken expensive vacations to celebrate the new job. Now Coinbase offered some layoffs and an apology.
By the end of the week, LinkedIn was inundated with posts from Coinbase’s rejected workers, who seemed angry and confused. Coinbase had planned to hire 2,000 employees in 2022 and had already boarded about 1,200 in May. If the company needed to scale back, then should it not have done so before making so many job offers? “One of the representatives I later spoke to told me it was a ‘cautious’ decision from them regarding the current market situation,” wrote a software engineer on LinkedIn. “I am left speechless over the irresponsibility Coinbase has shown in managing hires and helpless over my current situation.”
Ashutosh Ukey had accepted the offer to work at Coinbase back in March. He had applied for PhD programs, but working for the cryptocurrency startup felt like “a unique opportunity.” Coinbase’s teleworking policy also gave him the option to move wherever he wanted, and he quickly signed a lease for an apartment in Dayton, Ohio, to be closer to his girlfriend.
When the startup withdrew its offer last week, Ukey began to panic. He has lived in the United States since he was 8, but does not have a green card. Instead, he has a STEM OPT visa – an extension of a STEM student visa – which only gives him a few months of unemployment. He says recruiters are starting to reach out, but he is not sure he will be able to stay in Dayton with a job that is completely remote. “I have no idea where I’ll be in a few months,” he says.
Duraiswamy, the software development manager, has an H-1B visa, which is common among foreign technology workers. The visa gives them only 60 days of unemployment. “I’m not so worried about my job opportunities, but I’m cautious as I’m still standing in a long line waiting for my green card,” said Duraiswamy, who left a job at Amazon to join Coinbase. At least three other canceled job offers have affected individuals on immigrant visas, according to public postings on LinkedIn.
Startups are by definition risky companies. Most of them fail, leaving employees with little or no recourse; companies are not even required to provide severance pay in most states. Still, several of the people who accepted job offers at Coinbase said they did so because the startup seemed to have reached a maturity level. It debuted on the public market in 2021 and reached a staggering valuation of $ 86 billion. Coinbase was in a state of hyper-growth, and things seemed promising, especially since many people signed up for their job offers earlier in the spring.