- Robinhood is laying off 9% of its staff in an effort to make the firm more resilient.
- Falling trading volume and less internet searches suggest crypto interest is waning.
- However, increased institutional interest may show that the crypto industry is now much more established.
Robinhood seeks to streamline its operations with job cuts.
Popular crypto and stockbroker Robinhood has just announced it will lay off 9% of its staff -- about 340 people. The decision comes after what CEO Vlad Tenev described as a period of "hyper growth" in 2020 and H1 2021. The company increased its staffing numbers from 700 to nearly 3,800 in that time period.
According to Tenev, this led to unnecessary organizational complexity, including some duplicate roles and job functions. He said these changes would ensure Robinhood could be "more resilient in hard times, and stronger during the good." Robinhood recently listed four new cryptocurrencies, broadening its crypto offer. It also launched a Robinhood wallet to give clients the ability to withdraw and deposit their crypto assets.
Are Robinhood's staffing cuts a sign of crypto decline?
There was a boom in various types of savings and investing in 2020 and 2021. Several reports, including one from Charles Schwab showed that many new retail investors entered the stock market during the pandemic. This is even more the case with crypto investing. Research from Gemini shows that around 40% of crypto owners around the world bought it for the first time last year.
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But the climate is different now. Uncertain economic and geopolitical conditions mean investors are more risk averse. High-risk assets like crypto are struggling to gain any real momentum. Bitcoin (BTC) has hovered in the $38,000 to $42,000 range for much of this year, with a few brief breakouts that came to nothing.
In addition to stagnant prices, the number of crypto internet searches has fallen. Google trends shows a reduction in the number of searches for terms such as "cryptocurrency" and "Bitcoin". Crypto trading volume is also lower than it was for much of last year.
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There are various signals that crypto's light could be waning. However, no market can sustain crypto's crazy early growth forever. It's worth noting the cryptocurrency industry is a lot more established than it was at the start of 2021. Even with the current price declines, the cryptocurrency market cap is at almost $1.8 trillion dollars today -- up from around $770 billion in January 2021.
Plus, institutions are starting to see crypto differently. Fidelity has just said that by the middle of this year, 401(k) customers will be able to add Bitcoin to their retirement funds. More and more financial institutions are opening their doors to crypto, even if it's just a crack. As Gemini put it, "In 2021, cryptocurrency reached a tipping point, evolving from what many considered a niche investment into a global, established asset class."
After several months of relatively low prices, it isn't surprising to see slightly less interest in cryptocurrencies. However, even as some of the excitement dies down, there are still a number of signs the crypto coals continue to burn. For long-term investors, what matters is crypto's long-term potential and whether the steps it's taken toward mainstream adoption are a strong enough foundation for future growth.
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Emma Newbery owns Bitcoin.
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