Sirin Labs Lays Off 25% of Staff Amid Poor Blockchain Phone Sales

Israel-based Sirin Labs, maker of the Finney blockchain phone, has laid off a quarter of its workforce.

Speaking to local financial news source Globes, the firm said it had let go of 15 of its 60 employees – less than had been speculated in the media.

The layoffs come amid a disappointing consumer reaction to the firm’s recently launched blockchain phone.  “Sales are not what we expected,” Sirin told Globes.

The device started shipping in November 2018, and notably features a cold (offline) crypto wallet that is effectively a second device in the same housing as the phone. The firm told CoinDesk in November that the wallet also it has a separate processor and users will interact with it on a second LCD screen for security.

In the Globes report, Sirin Labs also refuted media reports that it has not been paying its staff in recent months. Workers have just been been paid for March and will be be paid Tuesday for April, it said.

The problems at the firm, run by controversial entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, come as a number of blockchain- and crypto-focused phones are hitting the market.

HTC launched its EXODUS 1 late last year. Initially available for purchase only with cryptocurrencies, the phone was made available for cash buyers in February.

Samsung has also moved to tap the attraction of blockchain features with its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S10. On sale from early March, the phone features a crypto wallet, distributed app (dapp) partners and a digital signing app.

In January, Sirin’s Moshe Hogeg and another firm he founded, blockchain prediction market platform Stox, were reportedly being sued by a Chinese investor for over $4.6 million for allegedly misappropriating some of the crypto millions invested in the firm.

The platform ceased its activity in Israel late last year and laid off all employees, according to Globes.

A number of blockchain startups have been laying off employees over the last few months, with most citing as a cause the effects of the crypto bear market on company holdings and revenue.

Most recently, Indian exchange Unocoin has reduced its employee levels to just 14 from over 100 early last year. According to The Economic Times, the firm had tried unsuccessfully to raise further funding and had to cut costs as a result.

Unocoin intends to soldier on with minimal staff while it awaits a verdict from the country’s Supreme Court over a decision by the central bank to block banking services to cryptocurrency platforms, the piece says.

Moshe Hogeg image via Sirin Labs

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