Bitcoin's nosedive spurs layoffs

It’s been a tough year in the world of cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin – the main driver in the space – has lost nearly half its value over the last month and is down more than 80 percent from its December 2017 high, spurring other cryptocurrencies to fall drastically, and forcing startups to trim their staffs in an effort to survive its biggest selloff to date.

Just last week, two blockchain firms announced plans to cut staff and their overall business models. ConsenSys, a New York-based blockchain venture firm said it will cut 13 percent of its staff, while Virginia-based Steemit, a blockcahin social network firm said it plans to lay off 70 percent of its staff, citing the crypto selloff as the reason.

What’s more, according to a Wall Street Journal report, a number of smaller firms that raised money during the bitcoin rally of 2017 to nearly $20,000, have also reduced staff or closed altogether.

Last month, FOX Business reported that one of the reasons for bitcoin’s fall this year is due to a report that the Department of Justice is investigating whether its epic rally was fueled, in part, by manipulation.

While federal prosecutors opened a criminal probe into cryptocurrencies months ago, according to Bloomberg, suspicions are looming on whether Tether – another digital token – and crypto exchange Bitfinex may have been used by traders to illegally move prices higher.

Neither company immediately responded to FOX Business’ request for comment. But in the past, J.L. van der Velde, the chief executive officer of Tether and Bitfinex, has rejected such claims.

Overall, the total market value of all cryptocurrencies has fallen 87 percent from its early January high of $827 billion and about 86 percent of all initial coin offerings from 2017 are trading below their listing price, according to accounting firm Ernst & Young. Moreover, job seekers appear to be losing interest in the field.

According to the Journal, the number of searches on for jobs related to blockchain or cryptocurrency fell 3 percent in the last 12 months through October. A year earlier, there was a 482 percent increase. Still, the number of employers listing blockchain-related jobs is rising, but at a much slower rate.