The cryptocurrency industry has lost more than $2 trillion in value in just over a year, the CEO of what was the world’s second largest crypto exchange is facing prison time, and crypto billionaires have watched more than $115 billion of their fortunes evaporate since March. But the CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, says he’s still hiring (or at least planning to).
Changpeng Zhao, better known as CZ, said on Wednesday that after increasing his firm’s headcount from 3,000 people to nearly 8,000 last year, he expects to add another 15% to 30% to that number in 2023. Despite the broad rout in the crypto space known as the Crypto Winter, CZ remains confident that his firm—and the whole industry—will weather the storm.
“There’s definitely damage [but] the industry will be fine,” CZ told CNBC at the Crypto Finance Conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Wednesday. “We will continue to build and hopefully we will ramp up again before the next bull market.”
Binance’s planned hiring spree comes while other major crypto businesses are pulling back. Coinbase, the largest U.S.-based crypto exchange, announced on Tuesday that it will lay off 25% of its workforce, with CEO Brian Armstrong saying the move was due to the prolonged bear market in the industry and a “broader economic downturn.”
Multiple cryptocurrency data firms have also claimed that, like its peers, Binance is losing assets quickly as crypto prices fall. On Wednesday, Forbes published an analysis including data from these firms which said that Binance is “bleeding assets,” losing 15% of its total since Dec. 13.
Binance did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment about the hiring spree or Forbes’ claims that the company lost 15% of its assets since Dec. 13.
“The bottom line is that a growing number of Binance investors are leaving the exchange or sharply reducing their exposure to it,” Forbes’ Javier Paz concluded.
But CZ was quick to brush off the claims on Wednesday. “Think they may need an app to check the crypto market,” he tweeted in response to the article. And just a few hours before the story went live, CZ took to Twitter to say: “More FUD incoming, will ignore!”
The acronym “F.U.D.” stands for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” Crypto bulls often use it to respond to criticism, arguing that the media and crypto critics are attempting to create “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” in their community.
CZ went on to reference the number 4 on Wednesday, which refers to a Jan. 4 tweet that he wrote where one of his new years’ resolutions was: “4. Ignore FUD, fake news, attacks, etc.”
“Alright, will do 4, and ignore from here,” he said.
Still, there’s no denying that Binance’s BNB token has dropped more than 22% since its November high—the data comes from CoinMarketCap.com, which is owned by CZ through Binance—and Binance revealed in a transparency statement of select crypto holdings in November that it held $17 billion in BNB.
BNB is a token that is native to Binance’s blockchain and is used by users to make traders or pay fees on the platform. On top of the demonstrable losses in the token, there are concerns that Binance could be using it as collateral for loans, just like the now bankrupt FTX did with its own native token, FTT. But a Binance spokesperson told Fortune’s Jeff John Roberts in December that the exchange has never used BNB as collateral. And CZ’s latest announcement for a hiring spree doesn’t line up with an exchange that’s on the ropes.
Or does it? In June of last year, just months before FTX collapsed, the exchange’s then-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said he planned to “keep growing” even as other companies began to cut back.
“Sometimes, when others Zig, you Zag,” the disgraced founder, who is now facing up to 20 years in prison for misrepresenting the health of his exchange, wrote at the time.
Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.