“We are reorienting the team around OpenSea 2.0, which is a major upgrade to our product,” Finzer said in a series of tweets on X (formerly Twitter) about his NFT company, which was once worth more than $13 billion. “So today, we say goodbye to a number of our OpenSea teammates.”
However, Finzer’s announcement did include details about how quickly the company was laying off its employees — for some, within an hour — and how, just two days after the layoffs, he scheduled a nearly two-week retreat for the company at a $9 million mansion that once belonged to Katy Perry. And Russell Brand, according to three sources familiar with the matter, screenshots of company Slack messages, and a memo Finzer wrote to his surviving employees. All sources have been granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about internal company matters.
“We are making significant organizational and operational changes as we focus on building a smarter — and ultimately better — version of OpenSea,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. luck. “We are extremely grateful for the contributions of those leaving OpenSea.”
The pivot from Finzer and OpenSea, once darlings in Silicon Valley, comes during an existential period for the company and the larger market as a whole, where monthly trading volumes for NFTs have declined — from about $1.2 billion in February 2022 to about $307 million as of October, according to CryptoSlam data. Furthermore, competitors like Blur and now Magic Eden have gained market share and put the one-time NFT giant on the defensive.
“The future is exciting, but that does not diminish the painful and sad human element of these changes,” Finzer wrote in the memo to current employees. “The hardest part of the changes today is saying goodbye.”
Three minutes before the all-hands meeting already scheduled for November 3, Finzer sent the following message to the “public” Slack channel: “Hi everyone, just a heads up that we will have some difficult changes to announce at the upcoming conference. All hands today. Due to the sensitive nature of these changes , we will be in “listen only mode”.
The employees gathered on a Zoom call, and Finzer immediately told them — mostly without any advance warning — that half of them no longer had a job. (Senior executives were informed about the layoffs earlier in the week, according to screenshots of Finzer’s memo.)
He said those affected will receive an email in the next few minutes confirming the bad news. Employees immediately began hanging up after Finzer, who appeared to feign remorse, announced the layoffs, according to a source familiar with the matter. (Finzer has turned off employees’ ability to talk during a Zoom call.)
Many of those fired lost access to their OpenSea systems and laptops within an hour of the call, according to two sources familiar with the matter. (An OpenSea spokesperson said the exact time for deactivation varies from employee to employee, and that it is common practice to remove employees’ access to company devices immediately after termination.)
Remaining OpenSea executives and managers have had one-on-one conversations with those who will soon be laid off, and former employees will receive four months of a cash bonus and six months of health insurance coverage, among other benefits, according to his memo.
“To be clear, the fact that the scale of these layoffs is so significant and that we are parting ways with so many people near and dear to all of you is ultimately my fault,” Finzer wrote. “While I support that this is the best move for the company, I also recognize that the decisions I have made as CEO have resulted in real human pain.”
Two days after the layoffs, Finzer and about 50 employees — half of the remaining employees — were sent to the company’s resort at a mansion in West Hollywood and will be there until Nov. 17, according to both a screenshot of a message from Stephanie Silvius, OpenSea’s interim “head of people” and a person familiar with the matter. The command. (An OpenSea spokesperson confirmed there is currently an off-site employee in the Los Angeles area but declined to specify the location.)
“There are no bad rooms,” Sylvius wrote, referring to the roughly 11,000-square-foot mansion. “[F]first come first served.”
According to real estate records, the Hollywood home is worth north of $9 million and is owned by Lorenzo Domani, a Las Vegas real estate developer who bought it in 2013 and now rents it out to corporate resorts, among other events. Katy Perry and Russell Brand were the previous owners of the house, according to NBC, and decided to sell the house after their divorce in 2012. As of February 2023, the asking monthly rent for Perry’s former residence was approximately $275,000 per month. The real deal.
An OpenSea spokesperson said a large lease is more cost-effective than, for example, the expenses associated with leasing a conference center. The company also said the cost of the mansion, which it declined to disclose, was secondary to the benefits of using it to focus remaining employees on OpenSea’s new direction.
“Hidden sauna in the gym…goals,” one employee wrote on Slack about the mansion’s amenities.
Open sea 2.0
Finzer and OpenSea employees gathered at the Hollywood House, built in 1921, to map out his vision for OpenSea 2.0. (The Slack channel in which Selvius, an OpenSea executive, posted details about the company’s withdrawal, was named “os2-la-offsite.” However, details surrounding OpenSea 2.0 remain murky, even according to Finzer’s memo to surviving employees.) “We are playing defense when we should be playing offense, and we are following rather than leading,” he says.
In his memo, Finzer outlined OpenSea’s reorganization plan. The engineering and production teams will have a staff of 40 people, “no managers and no titles for now,” and the company is moving toward “radical transparency,” opening, for example, most channels on Slack to all employees.
As for the product itself? Finzer wrote that OpenSea has a lot of “technical debt,” or legacy infrastructure that is cracking under what he called a “fragile foundation.” Instead of patching things up piecemeal, he said he’s leading a complete rewrite of all the company’s code.
“But since we are rebuilding OpenSea, it would not make sense to build a similar product,” he wrote in his note. “As we rebuild, we want to reimagine the OpenSea experience, fix the most painful user issues, simplify, standardize and eliminate useless functionality, and delight our end users.”
But what does this sea of buzzwords actually mean? A source familiar with the matter said: “I wish I had known.”