Zhao Changpeng, founder and chief executive officer of Binance, attends a conference at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France June 16, 2022.
Benoit Tessier | Reuters
Binance is planning a hiring spree in 2023, CEO Changpeng Zhao said Wednesday, taking a somewhat contrarian view as crypto firms lay off huge swathes of staff amid continued pressure on coin prices.
Zhao said Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, said the company increased headcount in 2022 from 3,000 people to “almost” 8,000.
In 2023, Binance plans to increase the number of staff by between 15% and 30%, Zhao said at the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Rival exchanges have been forced to cut large parts of their workforce after nearly $1.4 trillion was wiped off the crypto market in 2022 and major digital currencies including bitcoin and ether saw their prices plunge.
In November, Kraken announced it was laying off 30% of staff, and this year Huobi and Coinbase said it would cut 20% of its workforce. That was the second round of job cuts for Coinbase in the last year.
Zhao said Binance needs to get the company “well-organized” ahead of the next crypto bull run and admitted the exchange is “not super efficient.”
“We will continue to build and hopefully we will ramp up again before the next bull market,” Zhao said.
The industry was plagued last year by collapses of major projects, liquidity issues, bankruptcies and the high-profile failure of crypto exchange FTX. Sam Bankman-Fried who founded FTX has been charged with eight criminal counts by U.S. prosecutors, including fraud.
Binance had a big role to play in FTX’s collapse. In November, Binance offered to buy FTX’s non-U.S. businesses which were facing liquidity issues but then later backed out of the deal. Zhao said publicly that his company was selling its holdings in FTX’s native token FTTwhich exacerbated the collapse of that digital coin, adding to FTX’s downward spiral.
Zhao has said that he “did not master plan” the collapse of FTX.
In response to a CNBC question on the sidelines of the CFC St Moritz conference, the Binance CEO said the “actual damage is not that high” on the crypto industry from the FTX collapse. He said FTX “is not a big player, they just make a lot of noise.”
“There’s definitely damage [but] the industry will be fine,” Zhao said.