We ranked crypto companies with Glassdoor — it opened a rabbit hole

Top crypto companies are looking to hire — but whether they’re worth working for is another matter. As it turns out, employer review website Glassdoor shines an interesting light on the crypto industry.

We compared ratings and reviews of the major crypto players to see if things add up. They kind of don’t. 

Glassdoor reviews on Digital Currency Group (DCG), which owns media site CoinDesk and crypto asset manager Grayscale, as well as exchanges Coinbase and Kraken raise several questions…

But first, here’s how the crypto firms compared in numbers.

Digital Currency Group leads, TRON trails

In terms of overall scores on Glassdoor, the top rated crypto firms to work at are DCG, Coinbase, and exchange OKEx.

The lowest rated are blockchain company TRON, exchange Huobi, and EOS developer Block.One.

Crypto companies are in blue — yellow represents traditional finance firms.

Traditional finance companies saw lower scores than DCG, Coinbase, and OKEx — with top performers being NASDAQ and Visa with a score of 4.1.

But at the same time, the lowest score for traditional finance firms was 3.4 — higher than TRON with a score of 3. So we can see a larger fluctuation in scores (higher highs and lower lows) in crypto firms than traditional finance.

Sun and Saylor lose popularity contest

Glassdoor often provides a score for CEO approval. While some companies don’t have this data available, we can see that TRON and MicroStrategy have very low CEO approval ratings.

[Read more: Argo Blockchain eyes NASDAQ listing, thanks Bitcoin hashrate drop]

And while a comparison to traditional finance companies is hard without full Glassdoor data, companies like NASDAQ, NYSE, and S&P Global have the highest CEO approval ratings.

Wells Fargo is the exception with a score of 69. Since 2019, its CEO is Charles Scharf.

Huobi, TRON least likely for recommendation

Most glaringly, Huobi has a score of 44 when it comes to friend referral. TRON is only slightly higher at 53.

Leading the pack is DCG with a full score of 100. In comparison, the highest score in traditional firms is 84, belonging to S&P Global. The Federal Reserve has the lowest, 57.

When taking a look at all three categories holistically, a few patterns begin to emerge.

Firstly, TRON and Huobi have fared the worst in all three categories. DCG seems to be doing remarkably well, as does Coinbase, OKEx, and Kraken.

At the outset, this all seems fine and dandy. In the case of TRON in particular, things seem to add up.

But when you read the reviews, the high numbers start to look suspicious…

Disgruntled employees sound off

Scrolling through each company’s page, you’ll mostly find positive reviews from people who have been there less than one year. But there’s usually a slew of scathing critiques — often, these employees have worked at the company more than one year.

Let’s take a look at Glassdoor reviews for DCG, Coinbase, OKEx, and Kraken, as these fared the highest in overall scores.

A DCG review.

DCG has a total of seven reviews, all of them positive.

But the latest one was made in 2017, by an intern who worked there less than a year.

[Read more: Coinbase saw 20% jump in data requests from global law enforcement]

Coinbase has 217 reviews. The critiques mention a poor work-life balance (~60-80 hour work weeks), high turnover rate, bottom line mentality, and questionable leadership. Interestingly, its Chief People Officer, L.J. Brock, replies to all of the bad reviews.

“We want to ensure the promise of working at Coinbase matches the experience of being here,” Brock wrote back to a one-star review.

“We want to be transparent that there is no initiative in place to specifically reduce the intensity of the hours our jobs demand, and that we don’t intend to limit our ambitions by a traditional 40 hour work week.”

An OKEx review.

The Glassdoor page for OKEx holds 33 reviews.

Those giving poor scores cite a lack of organization, innovation, and leadership.

A Kraken review.

And then there’s Kraken. Its Glassdoor page has 115 reviews, most of them positive. But scroll down just a little and you’ll find some troubling words by present and former employees.

Several critiques mention that positive reviews have been written by management and HR. Another reads: “Check the red warning banner on this page, that’s why there aren’t more negative reviews here. I guarantee leadership will attempt to figure out who posted this.”

There is a red warning at the top of Kraken’s page:

The warning says: “This employer has taken legal action against reviewers and/or Glassdoor for the reviews that have appeared on this profile. Please exercise your best judgment when evaluating this employer.”

[Read more: Kraken encourages employee anonymity to fight ransomware]

Kraken is currently suing someone for leaving a Glassdoor review. This isn’t the first time — they’ve tried to sue many. We reached out to Kraken but at press time they are yet to supply us with a comment.

So far, Kraken’s attempts to silence Glassdoor reviewers have been unsuccessful. And while going after someone for exercising free speech poses a serious dilemma, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Glassdoor.

Glassdoor no stranger to lawsuits

Glassdoor lawsuits are so common that the very first question on its Content FAQ page reads: How do I serve legal documents on Glassdoor?

Indeed, lawsuits are filed left, right, and center. But due to free speech laws, it’s not often they’re successful. Regardless, Glassdoor’s policies on handling legal disputes raise a few questions.

Most glaringly, warnings on company pages — like the one on Kraken’s — are only placed while a lawsuit is ongoing. Once it’s settled or closed, the warning is removed. This makes it difficult for job seekers to get a full picture of the company’s history with disgruntled employees.

But given the significance Glassdoor has afforded the issue on its FAQ page, it’s safe to assume lawsuits are industry standard.

Protos reached out to Glassdoor for insight into its policies. We were referred back to its legal page — and told that every review is vetted according to undisclosed standards.

Glassdoor and a big ol’ grain of salt

So Glassdoor reads and approves all reviews — but its undisclosed standards remain frustratingly opaque.

Look back at everything we’ve seen: disproportionately high approval ratings, five star reviews from workers starting out at crypto companies, and frequent dissatisfaction in management and leadership.

These factors don’t exactly line up. But if crypto companies really are inflating Glassdoor reviews, they wouldn’t be alone.

A 2019 investigation by The Wall Street Journal showed that reviews for large companies had grown increasingly positive year on year. The investigation examined 8,500 companies and 4.8 million reviews. It outed Slack, LinkedIn, SpaceX, SAP, and more for inflating five star reviews.

“In some cases, companies have encouraged loyal employees to post reviews as part of a publicity campaign. SpaceX and SAP, for example, galvanized employees to leave reviews to make Glassdoor’s annual ranking of the ‘Best Places to Work.'”

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