A $3.5 billion Australian crypto company is facing a fierce backlash after laying off 17 percent of its employees from its gaming division while continuing to “aggressively hire” after selling 280 million in March had raised US dollars in funding.
The crypto platform, which is an Australian unicorn named Immutable, could face legal action as the union questions the validity of the layoffs.
The union, known as Games Workers Australia, has disputed the number of workers laid off, claiming there were at least 30 jobs, while Immutable insisted only 18 workers were made redundant.
The employees came from the company’s flagship video game Gods Unchained and were given 24 to 48 hours notice of the layoffs before they left.
Employees were fired from positions including video effects artist, senior engineers and a marketing director, and the process involved a 30-minute company-wide meeting last Monday.
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Game Workers Australia, a branch of Professionals Australia, said it was supporting Immutable Games Studio workers who had received the “devastating” news that they were being laid off.
“Based on information we have received, Game Workers Australia understands there are at least 30 but potentially more job cuts at Immutable,” said Jill McCabe, CEO of Professionals Australia.
“Immutable has given its employees a variety of reasons why the layoffs were necessary.
“While some employees were told the reason for their dismissal was due to individual performance metrics, others were told the reason was an organizational reorganization or a failure to align their role with business objectives.
“Although employees were advised that they could request information about other roles in the company, they were given the impression that they were not suitable for those roles.”
However, a spokesman for Immutable said the reorganization was a “difficult decision” and was undertaken to achieve business goals, while individual performance was not a reason for layoffs.
They added that individual employees were given the opportunity to respond to the layoffs and most were found unsuitable to move on to vacancies.
Hiring of 80 more positions
Concerns have been raised that Immutable is still hiring for similar positions that have been made redundant, such as: B. Product managers and engineers.
A spokesman for Immutable said the restructuring will affect 6 percent of the company’s total workforce and it will continue to be “aggressively hired”.
“As we grow, the type of expertise the company requires changes. We needed fewer artists, unity engineers and map designers and are hiring more tokenomics experts, blockchain engineers and crypto product managers,” they said.
“We have created new roles for Gods Unchained that we will be hiring for over the next six months; Overall, we’ll be hiring more new roles in Gods Unchained than we’ve released.
“Immutable will grow from 280 employees today to over 360 by the end of the year.”
The company started the year with just 120 employees and has already more than doubled, they added.
Game Workers Australia also claimed that Immutable offered no way for employees to respond to the company’s intention to fire them, and most layoffs were announced and implemented within 24 to 48 hours.
“Unfortunately, the experience of games workers at Immutable is emblematic of the broader issues in Australia’s growing $3 billion games sector,” said Ms. McCabe.
“While game workers are highly skilled and skilled, wages are unsustainably low, hours are long and unpaid overtime is commonplace.
“A lot of people burn out of our industry and leave before they’re even five years old.”
But Immutable’s spokesman defended its lawsuit, saying the company “followed a fair and consistent process consistent with legal obligations in relation to the restructuring.”
Earlier this year, Immutable founders James, 30, and Robbie Ferguson, 25, were one of 13 newcomers to place themselves on the Australian Financial Report Rich list with an estimated combined net worth of $1.01 billion.
Bloodbath in the tech sector
Immutable’s employees are the latest casualties in the tech sector, which has seen a spate of companies laying off employees as conditions got tougher.
Australian healthcare start-up Eucalptys, which offers treatments for obesity, acne and erectile dysfunction, has laid off up to 20 per cent of its employees after an investment firm cut its funding at the last minute.
Debt collection startup Indebted laid off 40 of its employees just before the end of the fiscal year, even though its valuation had risen to more than $200 million, with most of the layoffs in sales and marketing.
Then there was Australian buy-now pay laterer provider Brighte, which offers money for home improvement and solar energy, which in June laid off 15 percent of its employees, whose roles are mostly in corporate and new product development.
Another buy-now, pay-later provider with offices in Sydney, BizPay, laid off 30 percent of its workforce, blaming market conditions for the huge downsizing in May.
Earlier this year, a solar-focused start-up called 5B Solar, which boasts the backing of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, also laid off 25 percent of its employees after completing a capital raise that would bring the company $30 million