ConsenSys cut 14% of staff

ConsenSys cut 14% of staff today, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic

Another round of layoffs hit 90 people at Joe Lubin’s Ethereum venture studio, two months after similar cuts related to a reorganization

Two months after ConsenSys cut 14% of staff in a round of layoffs, the axe has struck once again at Joe Lubin’s Brooklyn-based Ethereum venture studio.

On April 20, the company announced another 14% reduction in headcount, this time attributed to the coronavirus pandemic downturn. That’s about 90 people.

“Like most of its peers, ConsenSys is seeing extraordinary uncertainty in the market, with businesses rebalancing priorities and reevaluating timelines,” a spokesperson told Modern Consensus via email. “In such an environment, we must make changes to conserve resources and ensure our continued ability to support our customers, drive innovation, and serve the broader ecosystem.” 

Adding that “no particular areas that were affected more than others,” the spokesperson said, “all key operational aspects of the business are preserved to ensure the development and service of key products and solutions.”

Despite the current economic uncertainty, ConsenSys “remains encouraged by the resilience of the Ethereum network and decentralized finance,” the spokesperson added.

All affected staff will receive two months severance and job placement services.

Some silver linings

The company is also focused on some opportunities that have arisen during the crisis, including rapidly growing interest in blockchain tracking of personal protective gear for hospitals and first responders, digital identity platforms, and emergency loan disbursement solutions.

The latter got a big—although indirect—boost last week, when Twitter-founder Jack Dorsey’s crypto-friendly payment processing company Square announced that it had been approved to participate in the U.S. government’s $350 billion small business loan and grant program. That Paycheck Protection Program is on the verge of getting another $300 billion as part of a $450 billion emergency aid bill.

ConsenSys also pointed to central bank digital currencies (CBDC) as a growth area. The Chinese government has reportedly been accelerating its test roll-outs of the digital yuan in the last few weeks.

A new ConsenSys on the horizon

The February layoffs came as part of a redesign of the formerly sprawling company, which broke into two parts. The core software business is now composed primarily of Infura, PegaSys, MetaMask, and Codefi, which provide tools for Ethereum developers, decentralized finance companies, and startups. It will also focus on designing and operating blockchain solutions for finance firms. 

The other company, ConsenSys Investments, now focuses on “early-stage equity, liquid digital assets, and strategic opportunities,” the firm said.

There was speculation in February that the corporate redesign was related to reports that JPMorgan was in talks with ConsenSys over plans to merge the banking giant’s Quorum enterprise blockchain unit. The spokesperson did not respond to a question seeking an update on that rumored project.

In March, ConsenSys partnered with Microsoft and EY to launch the Baseline protocol, a package of public domain tools for Ethereum-based enterprise blockchain coalitions.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.