As ICO Business Dried up, This Firm's Headcount Fell From 120 to 50

Significant layoffs at Ambisafe tell the tale of another ICO services startup that got too big in 2018.

AccessTimeIconApr 18, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:05 a.m. UTC

The crypto market's prolonged downturn in 2018 led an ICO services company to shed the majority of its staff at the end of last year, CoinDesk has learned.

Founded in 2015, Ambisafe provides a number of back-end solutions for companies operating in the blockchain space, particularly in providing white-labeled wallet and token sale platforms. It also provided exchange services, smart contract auditing and modular software development.

"We see ourselves as the infrastructure provider for blockchain-based financial markets," CEO Andrii Zamovsky told CoinDesk.

Yet over the last two months of 2018, Ambisafe shrunk significantly – going from a headcount of 120 to 50.

Ten out of 15 full-time staffers were laid off at the company's San Francisco headquarters. Additionally, 60 contractors at the Ambisafe office in Ukraine were not renewed.

"We were hiring too fast," Zamovsky said. "I would rather not take some of the projects that we took."

During the height of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the company's revenue rose as high as $500,000 a month, according to Zamovsky. As actions by U.S. securities regulators made the fundraising approach less attractive, business diminished significantly.

Similar downsizing occurred at other ICO-adjacent startups, including Hosho, BlockEx and Nebulas.

Still afloat

Zamovsky told CoinDesk monthly revenues are now closer to $100,000 a month, and that the company has pivoted to focus on services related to security token sales (rather than the consumer-oriented token sales it had focused on previously). Ambisafe is also currently seeking regulatory approval to operate its own exchange in the U.S.

Said Zamozsky:

"The major lesson is that migration to security token trading did not happen as fast as we expected. Even though everyone knows the future is security tokens, there's not a lot going on."

CoinDesk reached out to multiple former employees but they declined to comment or did not reply. One former contractor told CoinDesk his time with the firm ended when a contract wasn't renewed, but he had no cause to complain. Another declined to comment due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Zamovsky told CoinDesk the company negotiated severance packages with employees individually.

Watch gears image via Shutterstock


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