Despite several high-profile cryptocurrency implosions, the number of people working in the industry has soared over the past four years.
According to findings by the crypto research startup K33, the number of crypto-related employees has surged nearly 160% since 2019.
In a report titled “The Emerging Crypto Industry,” K33 estimated that the total headcount of people working in crypto as of 2023 amounted to nearly 190,000 persons. It also estimated that the number of people working in crypto stood at around 73,000 in 2019.
According to the data, the crypto industry peaked in total staff numbers in 2021 at more than 211,000 professionals. The growth came alongside Bitcoin’s (BTC) all-time high price of $68,000, recorded in November 2021.
Cryptocurrency employment by years. Source: K33
Although crypto employees have been reduced by around 11% since 2021, the number is still significantly higher than four years ago. This increase appears to track the dynamics of Bitcoin’s price, which surged more than 300% from its average annual price of around $7,200 in 2019, according to CoinGecko.
Data from some major industry companies reflects K33’s findings, though others appear to be trailing. One of those adding to its global headcount is major cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, which has seen staff numbers rise more than 150% since 2019, the firm’s chief people officer Pranesh Anthapur told Cointelegraph.
“Bear markets reinforce the importance of securing the right talent to scale your operation. Disrupting the foundations of traditional finance isn’t easy,” Anthapur noted. He added that Kraken’s approach to staff retention remains “consistent between bear and bull cycles.”
Trezor, a major hardware wallet firm, has also increased the firm’s headcount by 120% since 2019, CEO Matej Zak told Cointelegraph.
“More importantly, we are focused on building and retaining talent for the long term,” Zak noted. He added that Trezor has been moving to retain and improve talent even in bear markets, as opposed to cyclical hiring and firing based on “short-term market frenzies.” He stated:
“We’ve been in the industry for 10 years, so we’re well aware of how tough bear markets can be, and we plan accordingly. This means we didn’t have to cut staff during the recent bear market; instead, we continued to hire.”
On the other hand, the cryptocurrency industry has also seen multiple rounds of layoffs in the past year, including at firms like Coinbase, Binance, Crypto.com, Dapper Labs and Kraken.
According to online reports, Binance has reportedly laid off more than 1,000 employees in its recent headcount cut over the past few weeks. The alleged layoffs came after the firm announced a 20% reduction in staff in May.
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While some major firms have been laying off thousands of people, some crypto giants have apparently never employed more than 100 people. Tether, the issuer of the world’s largest stablecoin and the most-traded cryptocurrency, USDT, only has about 60 people working at the company, a spokesperson told Cointelegraph.
“We have always maintained a cautious approach to hiring. We prioritize the well-being and future prospects of our employees, as evidenced by our track record of not downsizing our staff even during previous downturns in the crypto market,” the representative added.
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