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It’s no secret that the crypto market downturn has had a significant impact across the blockchain industry.
Prices remain down in the neighborhood of 85 to 95 percent, depending on your coin of choice, and companies across the cryptosphere— ShapeShift, Steemit, ConsenSys (Decrypt’s source of funding), and many others—have been forced to hand out pink slips.
It’s also no secret that the Dash Core Group—the company behind the Dash cryptocurrency, which at one time claimed the number five spot on cryptocurrency ranks by market cap—would soon meet the same fate.
Just over a week ago, in a post to the Dash forum, Dash Core Group CEO Ryan Taylor delivered the bad news: the company would reduce its staff by 8 percent by March 7. The move followed a six-month hiring freeze and blog post last December in which Taylor attempted to assuage concerns regarding Dash’s future viability—the coin once valued at over $1,200 now trades at just over $80.
Now the day has come, and as of today, the Dash Core Group’s human resources staff, its Head of Strategy Alexander Chopan, and Head of Business Development Bradley Zastrow will part ways with the company.
“As you can imagine, this decision was not taken lightly, and we only made it to ensure that Dash Core Group is sustainable in the long term,” Fernando Gutierrez, Dash Core Group CMO, tells Decrypt. Since the staff reduction is focused on business and support areas, Gutierrez says others within the company “will be absorbing the workload of the departing ones, so the impact will be limited.”
Erstwhile biz dev boss Zastrow says he holds no ill will: “Like any business operating in challenging economic times, it’s about prioritization moving forward.” Zastrow says that while “the bear market may have limited certain expansion plans” for Dash, the company “remained focused on the execution” and points to Dash’s track record in 2018 by way of example.
He noted that Q4 was the company’s most productive quarter of the year, and both adoption and use of Dash continues to grow, particularly in places like Venezuela and other inflation-riddled counties. On the development side, Zastrow says progress on Evolution—Dash’s long-awaited layer2 payments platform—continues to accelerate.
Gutierrez says development will not be affected by the layoffs and there are currently no planned changes for the company’s roadmap. “We are currently in the process of upgrading the protocol to our recently released v0.13, and expect v0.14 to hit testnet this month,” he says.
The company, however, has come under fire over its spending and budgetary “mismanagement”—particularly when it comes to Dash’s unique marketing practices. Critics will point to, for example, Dash treasury funds being used to pay MMA fighter Rory MacDonald $250,000 for representing the coin at a single event last year. Dash funds were also used to sponsor a three-month run of a web series called “Reality Check,” hosted by former FOX anchor Ben Swann, to the tune of $2.4 million. And the list goes on.
Zastrow, however, sets the record straight: "It was not the Dash Core Group that spent the money on those initiatives—and therefore has nothing to do with the challenges facing Dash Core Group at this time," he says. "These were all proposals that the community put up to the DAO for the monthly treasury funding vote. The Masternodes voted to approve those initiatives."
Meanwhile, company execs insist the ship has now been righted and it’s financial woes can be chalked up to the same bear market that has touched virtually every cryptocurrency project over the last year.
And, to be fair, who didn’t go a little nuts when prices were to the moon and lambos abounded—a lack of “market maturity” is perhaps crypto’s worst kept secret of all.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with comments from the Dash Core Group's former head of business Bradley Zastrow that clarify how and why Dash treasury funds were allocated for marketing purposes.