MoonPay has dismissed dozens of staff, while denying those cuts are layoffs

Despite dozens of departures at all levels of the company, crypto payments hotshot MoonPay insists it isn’t laying people off.

In the past six months at least 40 staffers have either been let go from or have left the startup, according to several people familiar with the matter and The Block’s analysis of LinkedIn records. More strikingly, the average tenure of the more than 50 people who have departed MoonPay since the start of last year stands at no more than 10 months, according to The Block’s calculations.  

Yet despite this churn, MoonPay says its headcount has in fact grown from 190 to 279 full-time employees since March last year. And the company continues to hire, meaning there will be no reduction in headcount resulting from recent cuts.  

“MoonPay has and continues to smart scale the team,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve hired new leaders and C-suite execs across the company and empowered them to build out new teams and structures.” 

The four-year-old payments firm rose to prominence over the last 18 months with a slew of PR-heavy stunts, most of them focused on NFTs. It launched a “white glove” concierge service to help a clutch of actors, TV stars and musicians buy Bored Apes and other high value NFTs. It also rolled out a service called HyperMint, intended to “onboard the next billion” to web3 through its NFT generating engine and partnerships with the likes of fashion brand Alo Yoga and TV network Fox.  

Its growth followed a blockbuster Series A fundraise of $555 million at a $3.4 billion valuation in November 2021, which included buy-in from the likes of Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber, alongside multiple venture capital firms. Co-founder and CEO Ivan Soto-Wright — who bought a $38.5 million Miami mansion just a few months after that landmark round closed — is often pictured rubbing elbows with celebrity clients.  

Yet behind the glitz, there are signs of internal tension.

MoonPay’s image curation

The company has let staff go in drips and drabs over the past six months, according to six people with direct knowledge of the matter. Three of those people said there have been no announcements about the cuts internally, while another three — all current or former employees — said MoonPay is hugely concerned with its public image and thought news of layoffs would tarnish it.

One went so far as to say that the “only thing” management cares about is “not to show negative coverage of the company in the media.” Another added, “MoonPay are very good at creating the narrative they want around things.”  

One platform it has not been able to control is Glassdoor, the workplace review site. MoonPay has earned a spate of excoriating reviews in the past six months, including complaints that "you will not get ahead no matter how hard you work." MoonPay has a 3.3-star rating overall.

Cuts across departments 

Staff in numerous departments have been affected by the recent cuts, including those in the startup’s in-house design, engineering, security, product, account management and talent teams, according to The Block’s analysis.  

Top-level execs, once headline hires, have also stepped back from full-time roles at the business. Chief Technology Officer Akash Garg, who was hired from payments firm Block Inc., is now working in a paid advisory position with the company after eight months as a full-timer, a company spokesperson said. Numerous other people who faced the axe held "senior" or "lead" roles at the company.

In its defense, MoonPay says any job cuts are about promoting a culture of excellence. Soto-Wright told The Block in December that, “I’d like us to be like 300 Spartans… We want to be lean. We want to be financially disciplined. I don’t see us making huge increases in our headcount until we feel really confident about how the team is operating.” 

“The company is committed to performance management and only retaining the very best,” MoonPay’s spokesperson said. “So we’re always working to ensure we’re organized in the best way, maintaining a high bar for success and retaining a lean and scrappy mentality as we grow.” 

© 2023 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

NFT marketplace Blur set to raise at billion dollar valuation: sources

Blur, a rival to NFT marketplace heavyweight OpenSea, is set to close a funding round at a billion dollar valuation. 

The startup’s valuation climbed to unicorn status in negotiations with investors, according to two people with direct knowledge of the effort. One of those people said Blur initially went out to potential backers in the hope of raising $15 million to $30 million, with a price tag of $700 million in mind, only to see it tick higher as the round became oversubscribed. 

Blur did not respond to requests for comment. 

News of the fundraising effort comes on the same day as Blur’s hyped native token launch, which is due to go live at noon ET on Feb. 14. The startup last said it had raised funds in March 2022, with Paradigm, eGirl Capital, 0xMaki and LedgerStatus on the ticket for its $11 million seed round

Airdrop hype

The marketplace launched mid-October to much fanfare from the NFT community — muscling in on an increasingly competitive niche in the market. 

Blur is known for its low trading fees and its floor sweeping function. It was the third-largest NFT marketplace by volume in January, creeping up on top dog OpenSea, according to data from The Block Research.

Part of its rise to prominence could be attributed to its schedule of airdrops — with prizes including blur tokens for traders who had different levels of engagement with the platform since its launch. So far, the business has orchestrated three airdrops but not laid out a long-term plan for the tokens. 

Blur delayed its token launch in January, saying that an "extra two weeks will allow us to deliver a launch that hasn’t been done before."

© 2023 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.