In April 2022, crypto startup Wyre was riding high on the tech boom, having agreed to be acquired for $1.5 billion. The acquisition would have meant a $267 million windfall for one its founders.
But the acquisition was canceled in September.
On Friday, employees received worse news: They were told via email the company was basically shutting down, as nearly all its employees were being let go, according to a former employee with direct knowledge of the matter.
Wyre did not respond to emails requesting comment, but CEO Ioannis Giannaros told Axios via email that the company is "still operating but will be scaling back to plan our next steps."
Wyre was founded in 2013 in San Francisco, and raised more than $55 million from a group of mostly cryptocurrency-focused investors like Pantera Capital, Stellar Development Foundation, Kraken and Boost VC, according to PitchBook data.
The company's most successful product was an onramp to buying cryptocurrencies. It provided the ability to use a credit card to buy cryptocurrencies in the popular MetaMask ethereum wallet.
Last year, the company was feeling good about its prospects, the former employee said. Its main competitor, MoonPay, had just raised a $555 million series A round, valuing the company at $3.4 billion.
After the $1.5 billion acquisition by one-click checkout company Bolt fell apart, Wyre searched for other white knights but turned down offers, said another person who worked at a company that offered to acquire Wyre.
Layoffs and high employee attrition followed. The current cryptocurrency fundraising atmosphere, fueled by the FTX implosion and falling cryptocurrency prices, likely made it impossible for Wyre to raise new capital, the former employee said.
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