Binance lays off employees days after executive exodus

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Binance logo

By Jaiveer Shekhawat

(Reuters) -Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has cut jobs just days after it was hit by a wave of executive exits, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The layoffs at the world's biggest crypto exchange come at a time when the industry's future in the U.S. market is uncertain, with regulators aggressively clamping down on what they deem are illegal activities.

The job cuts were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which said more than 1,000 people had been let go in recent weeks.

"As we continuously strive to increase talent density, there are involuntary terminations. This happens in every company. The numbers reported by media are all way off," Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted, adding that the exchange is "still hiring."

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Binance and Zhao for allegedly operating a "web of deception." Binance has said it would defend itself vigorously.

The lawsuits against Binance and peer Coinbase Global underpin SEC Chair Gary Gensler's tough approach towards the industry, but a U.S. judge recently siding with crypto firm Ripple Labs highlights that the regulator is facing an uphill battle.

Applications for spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) from asset management giants BlackRock and Fidelity have also been viewed as a vote of confidence for the industry.

"Over the last six years, we have grown from 30 to a team of almost 8,000 across the globe. As we prepare for the next major bull cycle, it has become clear that we need to focus on talent density across the organization to ensure we remain nimble and dynamic," a spokesperson for Binance said.

Last week, a string of executives quit Binance, which included its Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Hillmann.

(Reporting by Kanjyik Ghosh and Jaiveer Shekhawat and Pritam Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)