Lubin Won’t Rule Out Layoffs Amid ‘Refocusing’ at ConsenSys

A strategic shift is in the works at ConsenSys, the sprawling venture studio dedicated to building ethereum-based businesses and products.

“I would call it a refocusing of priorities,” ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin told CoinDesk in an interview Tuesday. “On more rigor, more structure, more sustainability, more accountability.”

In an emailed letter sent to the venture studio’s roughly 1,200 employees on Friday night, Lubin laid out the vision for what he called “ConsenSys 2.0.”

In its four years of existence, the internally-funded ConsenSys has grown rapidly, with a major hub in Brooklyn and outposts spanning the globe. More than 50 ventures currently exist under the ConsenSys umbrella, and the firm’s recent investments include a stake in the crypto trading platform ErisX alongside big-name companies like Fidelity and Nasdaq.

Yet the move comes as the price of ether (ETH) languishes around $100, down from the all-time high over $1,400 that was hit early this year (Lubin, an ethereum co-founder, is said to hold vast reserves of ETH). Other startups in recent weeks have cited the crypto bear market for major layoffs and downsizing, with such developments often framed as necessary belt-tightening in the aftermath of this year’s market boom and subsequent decline.

When asked about potential layoffs stemming from the announced reforms, Lubin told CoinDesk:

“We are looking at lots of different situations – some of them will shrink, some of them will grow. There’s nothing I want to say concretely about that at this point.”

Whereas previously “it was good enough to do cool projects,” Lubin said, ConsenSys 2.0 will be different: “We are going to focus much more rigorously across the different business lines on accountability, that includes financial sustainability,” he told CoinDesk.

As the letter explained:

“We will more quickly declare projects a ‘learning success’ and disband them, enabling their elements – technology, technologists, and entrepreneurs – to diffuse back into the sea of potentiality and reconstitute into another project with the benefit of greater experience.”

“It recognizes that we’re in a new regime,” Lubin said of the letter.

Lubin says the company has been interacting much more with external investors over the last year in a bid to “open up” funding opportunities for ConsenSys-supported ventures. That push will continue.

“Certainly one goal is to enable ConsenSys and its projects to not be dependent on the price of these value tokens, that essentially they are all thriving businesses in their own right,” Lubin said.

As protracted market lows change the calculus for many players in the crypto space, Friday’s letter captures how one prominent company is adjusting to new realities. The big-picture goals remain the same, Lubin says, but the strategy for getting there must evolve in order for ConsenSys to succeed in the long-term.

“We’ve definitely been more focused on doing cool things in the past, and now we’re just focused on being a set of viable and successful businesses in a real business ecosystem,” he said, adding:

“Blockchain is getting very, very real. It’s about the maturation of the company.”