NFT marketplace OpenSea lays off 20% of its staff: ‘We have entered … crypto winter’

Despite a significant depression in crypto markets, plenty of top players have been hesitant to say that the good times are over for the time being, but as NFT marketplace OpenSea announces today that its laying off around 20% of the company’s employees, the top crypto startup’s CEO isn’t mincing words.

” … [T]he reality is that we have entered an unprecedented combination of crypto winter and broad macroeconomic instability, and we need to prepare the company for the possibility of a prolonged downturn,” OpenSea CEO Devin Finzer said in a message shared with staff that he posted publicly on Twitter as well.

The company did not specify exactly how many employees were impacted by the decision. Update: OpenSea tells TechCrunch the company will have 230 employees following the layoffs.

Finzer notes that impacted employees will be receiving health insurance “into 2023” as well as accelerated equity vesting and 12 weeks of severance.

The layoffs raise questions about the company’s aggressive growth tactics and how they approached the sustainability of the NFT sector’s breakneck growth. In his note to staff, Finzer says the company has years of runway ahead of it with these changes, assuming things don’t get even bleaker.

“The changes we’re making today put us in a position to maintain multiple years of runway under various crypto winter scenarios (5 years at the current volume), and give us high confidence that we will only have to go through this process once,” Finzer writes, later adding, “Winter is our time to build.”

OpenSea has been one of the top beneficiaries of crypto’s 2021-2022 bull run, raising hundreds of millions in investor dollars, most recently at a $13.3 billion valuation. That growth has not been without its drama; last month one of the company’s executive was arrested on charges of insider trading after an NFT trading scandal.

Crypto’s top venture capitalists have said that the talent entering the crypto space is one of the biggest reasons they’re bullish on the space, but as crypto giants continue to make huge layoffs, it’s unclear how much of that talent is being held onto.