on Thursday Before he was supposed to start his new job at Coinbase, Sam Maher received an email with the subject line “Update your Coinbase offer.” Updates are not quoted. The startup has cut some new jobs in response to “current market conditions,” leaving Maher suddenly out of a job and feeling like he’d broken up via email.
The same email was sent to hundreds of other potential Coinbase employees with onboarding dates ranging from next week to late summer. Software development manager Vijay Duraiswamy has started the onboarding process on a company-issued laptop. Others have signed leases, moved to different cities, or took expensive vacations to celebrate their new jobs. Now, Coinbase is offering some severance and an apology.
By the end of the week, LinkedIn was flooded with posts from rejected Coinbase employees who looked both angry and confused. Coinbase had planned to hire 2,000 employees 2022 and already onboarded about 1,200 to May. If a company needs to downsize, shouldn’t it do so before providing so many jobs? “A representative I spoke to later told me that they made ‘cautious’ decisions about the current market situation,” one software engineer wrote on LinkedIn. “I am not convinced by Coinbase’s approach to managing employees,” wrote a software engineer on LinkedIn. Being responsible and speechless about my current situation.”
Ashutosh Ukey accepted an offer to work at Coinbase back in March. He had already applied for a PhD program, but working at the cryptocurrency startup felt like “a unique opportunity.” Coinbase’s remote work policy also allows him to move anywhere he wants, and he soon signed a lease on an apartment in Dayton, Ohio, to be closer to his girlfriend.
Ukey panicked when the startup withdrew its offer last week. He has lived in the United States since he was 8 years old, but does not have a green card. Instead, he has a STEM OPT visa — an extension of a STEM student student visa — that will only keep him out of work for a few months. He said recruiters have started reaching out, but he’s not sure he can stay in Dayton for a completely remote job. “I don’t know where I’ll be in a few months,” he said.
Software development manager Duraiswamy holds an H-1B visa, which is common among foreign tech workers. The visa only allows them to be unemployed for 60 days. “I’m not too worried about my job prospects, but I’m cautious because I’m still waiting for my green card,” said Duraiswamy, who left his Amazon job to join Coinbase. According to public posts on LinkedIn, at least three other canceled job offers have affected people on immigrant visas.
Startups are, by definition, risky businesses. Most of them fail, leaving employees with little recourse; in most states, companies don’t even have to pay severance. Still, some of the people who accepted job offers at Coinbase said they did so because the startup appeared to have reached a certain level of maturity.It debuts on the public market in 2021 and reaches a staggering valuation $86 billion. Coinbase is in high growth mode and things are looking promising, especially with many signing up for their job offers earlier this spring.
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