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With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

As blockchain-focused jobs increase, universities offer blockchain courses that could help students find job opportunities this year. With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning to Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

Blockchain, a term once only familiar to Bitcoin (BTC) enthusiasts, is becoming one of the most in-demand business skills for 2020. According to a recent LinkedIn blog post, blockchain technology is the most sought-after hard skill this year. The post noted: “The small supply of professionals who have this skill are in high demand.”

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Moreover, while the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the United States’ unemployment rate — causing 22 million people to file for unemployment since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency four weeks ago — blockchain-related jobs have been increasing.

In turn, blockchain courses offered at universities are becoming more common, as the need for the skill set rises. A key finding from Coinbase’s second yearly report on higher education shows that 56% of the world’s top 50 universities offer at least one course on cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology — a 42% increase from 2018.

Kristi Yuthas, an accounting professor at Portland State University, told Cointelegraph that the need for individuals skilled in blockchain technology is a result of traditional companies being impacted by the technology: “Blockchain companies are innovating at lightning speed. Leaders with the acumen to create business value from these innovations are now in high demand.”

University Blockchain Courses Help Students Find Job Opportunities

American universities such as Portland State, MIT, Stanford, University of California Santa Barbara and many others now offer blockchain-focused courses to meet the increase in job demand, and students who take them have a chance to quickly find job opportunities this year.

For example, Portland State University recently concluded its “Blockchain in Business Lab” courses. According to Yuthas and her colleague Stanton Heister, the university collaborated with the NULS Foundation, an open-source enterprise blockchain platform, to educate students on the business elements of blockchain development. Together, the NULS and PSU designed and conducted two hands-on courses that were completed by 21 students under the supervision of Yuthas and Heister.

According to Yuthas, PSU’s blockchain program is meant to provide in-depth analysis of blockchain companies and innovations. She explained that lab-style courses allow students to gain real-world experience in order to build a working blockchain and to execute actual transactions.

PSU’s first Blockchain in Business Lab was conducted in February of this year and offered a step-by-step guide on how to build a blockchain by utilizing NULS Chain Factory, which is a blockchain development kit. Kathy Norman, a developer of the NULS blockchain and co-organizer of the PSU program, told Cointelegraph that Chain Factory was used by students to drive blockchain education and to test the product as an educational vehicle, adding:

“Our commitment was to provide our technology and our technical expertise, to give the students a hand-on experience of blockchain from the perspective of user/customer, developer, and entrepreneur.”

PSU’s second lab focused on blockchain user and developer activities. Included in this course were guides for practical blockchain applications and instructional sessions on decentralized applications and smart contract development. America Tirado, a student who completed PSU’s blockchain courses, noted that the classes helped alleviate her fears around blockchain:

“I had heard of Bitcoin before and was asked to invest in it in the early 2000s. I hesitated, though, because I didn’t understand it. Through these courses, I learned about the technology, what it can do, how it functions, and how to properly use it.”

Norman further pointed out that students who have completed PSU’s blockchain courses are invited to join the NULS community to offer their knowledge to help build out the platform: “All students are invited to join our NULS community, and if they want, offer their skills to NULS. We did not formally invite the PSU students this semester, but can certainly consider this for next time.”

UC Santa Barbara and The University of California Los Angeles also offer blockchain courses. Both universities are part of the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to accelerating blockchain education. Cryptocurrency analytics firm CipherTrace partners with BAF to train students on how to use the company’s products to investigate cryptocurrency-related scams.

John Jefferies, the chief financial analyst of CipherTrace, told Cointelegraph in a previous article that the company will train and certify students to use its financial investigation software, which is applied to detect money laundering, power-law enforcement investigations and to enable regulatory supervision.

While Jefferies noted that training students is not intended as a recruiting tool for the company, the president of BAF, Cameron Dennis, mentioned that helping students find internships this year is a big focus, telling Cointelegraph that “an internship pipeline is in early-stage development.” Dennis also explained that BAF’s blockchain courses are offered to both undergraduate and graduate students looking to expand their blockchain knowledge:

“A professor in UCSB’s computer science department and a professor in the economics department agreed to run a cross-disciplinary and graduate-level blockchain seminar for Spring 2019 (this quarter). Also, we are currently running an undergraduate computer science blockchain course at UCLA’s College of Engineering and are preparing for an undergraduate Intro to Blockchain course at University of California Davis for Fall 2020.”

Ben Fisch, a co-founder of Findora, a blockchain company for financial applications, and renowned professor of cryptography, Dan Boneh, both teach a blockchain and cryptocurrencies course at Stanford University.

Fisch told Cointelegraph that engineers who went through a blockchain course are likely to have a great advantage when applying to big companies that are interested in piloting blockchain technology. He also noted that many early-stage startups with blockchain-related business ideas also need technical team members with an accurate understanding of how blockchains operate. According to Fisch, the blockchain course at Stanford provides a comprehensive technical overview of blockchain technology, as it focused more on blockchain concepts rather than engineering aspects, adding:

“It covers the core concepts and also a sampling of niche topics within the field. Astute students come out of this course with a holistic understanding of how blockchains work and their fundamental applications, or even with enough knowledge to participate in blockchain research and innovation. Our guest lectures also give students some exposure to how blockchain is being used in the world today. Our guests this year included Olaf Carlson-Wee of Polychain Capital and Chris Dixon of A16Z.”

As a hiring manager at Findora, Fisch explained that the candidates he looks to bring on board are not much different from engineers who other software development companies would seek out and that they don’t need to be particularly well versed in blockchain technology:

“However, having a background in blockchain concepts, such as the one provided by our Stanford course, does help. It increases the attractiveness of an already strong engineering candidate, and it may reduce the on-boarding time for a new hire.”

Updated: 4-24-2020

Binance Sees 2,000% Employee Increase in Under 3 Years

Binance recently broke the 1,000 employee mark, showing tremendous growth since its ICO.

Major crypto exchange, Binance, now has over 1,000 employees, showing tremendous company growth since its 2017 start.

“When Binance first started in 2017, there were under 50 people,” Binance co-founder, Yi He, told Cointelegraph on April 23. “We have more than 1,000 employees today (currently at 1,002 and counting; we are welcoming new hires almost every day).”
Binance kicked things off less than three years ago

Binance conducted its ICO in July 2017, garnering $15 million in capital. The exchange opened one month later. “Though our team during this time was not very large, we were already an international and decentralized team, collaborating remotely with the executive team,” Yi He said.

The exchange quickly became one of the crypto market’s go-to options for trading, boasting $1.5 billion in volume by June of the following year.
The exchange seeks new workers amid increasing unemployment numbers

Over the past several weeks, coronavirus prevention measures and market downturns have resulted in a mass number of layoffs and company difficulties.

“Many talented people have lost their jobs due to the current climate with a number of companies laying off their employees,” He said, adding

“We believe that this moment is the best time to recruit outstanding talent. This quarter, we will continue to recruit new hires and encourage people to apply at Binance.”

In terms of long-term goals, He explained the company’s mission statement has not changed. Looking at crypto as a method of unlocking money’s caged potential, Binance desires to increase financial accessibility, while enhancing cryptocurrency usability.

In just 2020, Binance has released a number of new products, such as options trading, expanding its product line even further.

Updated: 11-5-2020

Fidelity Digital Assets Is Hiring More Crypto Engineers

Fidelity Digital Assets is hiring over 20 engineers in a new push to expand the investing giant’s footprint in the cryptocurrency space.

* Exactly what the new hires will be building was unclear in Fidelity’s Wednesday announcement.

* The post mentioned Fidelity is “improving upon our existing bitcoin custody and execution services” and building new products to “support the ecosystem.”

* Two Digital Asset positions were added to Fidelity’s job board Thursday: a principal data engineer and a senior engineering manager. Eight other digital assets posts were listed on the job board as of press time.

* Hiring will occur over the next several months, Fidelity said.

Updated: 1-27-2021

‘Pomp’ Launches Crypto Jobs Board With Gemini, Coinbase And BlockFi

Anthony Pompliano, the popular crypto evangelist and partner at Morgan Creek Digital, is launching a blockchain-focused jobs board, with backing from Gemini, Coinbase and BlockFi.

Announced Wednesday, PompCryptoJobs went live with over 100 open crypto positions advertised by its three launch partners.

Pompliano – known simply as “Pomp” in the crypto world – is planning to leverage his large audience to bring companies and job candidates together in a talent marketplace. (Back in August 2020, Pompliano’s Morgan Creek Digital led a $50 million investment round in crypto lender BlockFi.)

“I think that there is an obvious need in the market right now,” Pomp said in an interview. “You’ve got millions of Americans and people around the world that are out of work, and millions more who want to transition from their existing job. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency companies are growing and hiring very fast, but there’s no single place where the job candidates and the employers can meet each other.” 

The crypto industry, composed of armies of machine coders and social media scrum-halfs, does indeed seem to be booming. This month, Digital Currency Group (the owner of CoinDesk and four other firms in the space) posted over 60 new job vacancies.

The revenue model for the new crypto jobs portal involves paying a monthly fee to list positions, Pomp explained.

“My goal is to get 10,000 jobs on the board this year,” he said.

Morgan Creek’s Anthony Pompliano aims to list 10,000 openings by the end of the year.

Updated: 6-7-2021

Help Wanted: Cryptocurrency Experience A Plus

Over the course of January through November of 2017, the number of job postings on LinkedIn with Bitcoin in the headline has boomed by 5,753% to a total of 4,917 listings. Overall, the number of jobs associated with Bitcoin and blockchain rose 306% on LinkedIn during the 12 month period that ended in mid-November.

Updated: 6-12-2021

Digital Currency Asset Manager Grayscale Investments LLC Hires Its First CMO

Deborah Bussière will promote investment products in a noisy sector of finance.

Grayscale Investments LLC, a digital currency asset manager, has named Deborah Bussière as its first chief marketing officer.

Grayscale, which offers over-the-counter funds focused on bitcoin and other digital currencies, had $53 billion in assets under management as of May 12, according to the company. Responsibility for marketing was previously shared internally, with external support from Vested LLC, its advertising and public relations agency of record.

Previously, Ms. Bussière was global chief marketing officer at Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc., a financial-technology provider of investing, governance and communications tools. She had earlier been a marketing consultant to startups including Grayscale and chief marketing officer for the Americas at Ernst & Young.

Ms. Bussière said she intended to help Grayscale educate investors about digital currency as it continues to quickly evolve. “We understand how important it is to navigate the many perceptions and misperceptions that exist,” she said.

She joins the company following the January promotion of Michael Sonnenshein to chief executive officer at Grayscale, where he promised to bolster the leadership team and capitalize on the company’s growth in 2020.

Her appointment to the C-suite at Grayscale comes, too, as digital currencies occupy the spotlight more than ever, most recently as the subject of a “Saturday Night Live” skit starring Elon Musk last month and an enthusiastic conference in Miami earlier this month.

The “laser eyes” social-media meme for bitcoin enthusiasts was adopted this week by the president of El Salvador, which this week approved bitcoin as legal tender.

But the currencies are also volatile, buffeted by forces including tweets by Mr. Musk and the sentiment in Reddit forums such as WallStreetBets. Bitcoin, dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies saw their value decline on Friday, continuing a monthlong drop, after Mr. Musk posted a cryptic tweet implying loss of love for bitcoin, including “#bitcoin” and a broken-heart emoji.

The crosscurrents are a challenge, according to Ms. Bussière. “Perception is reality,” she said. “That’s a fact of life.”

But she said her response to such external factors will be Marketing 101, with a consistent message at its core. “We’re monitoring real-time tweets, news breaks, price fluctuations, market valuations,” Ms. Bussière said. “But it’s like when you’re running a race.

If you want to win you’re not constantly looking back at who’s behind you because if you do that you’re losing valuable milliseconds.”

Marketing cryptocurrency also depends in part on the audience, Ms. Bussière added.

“If you’re in the digital currency and crypto space, it can be Reddit and it can be all the kids that are out there,” she said. “Certainly if you go to talk to your Great Aunt Edna about her perception of digital currencies, that’s a whole different vantage point…Grayscale has a huge opportunity to own that narrative.”

Other players in digital currencies are confronting the same issues.

“We’ve actually surveyed for this—‘Do you find the crypto culture to be off-putting?’” said Andrew Tam, senior vice president of marketing at BlockFi, which offers cryptocurrency versions of traditional financial products and services such as loans. “It scored lower than expected.”

Tweets by Mr. Musk and the laser eyes meme among bitcoin backers help business in the long run, Mr. Tam said.

“It seems kind of silly because if you log onto Twitter you see all these people with laser eyes,” he said. “What that really is is engagement. What that campaign, quote-unquote, has done is really drive awareness in a way that a centralized marketing department could never have done.”

Mati Greenspan, chief executive at research firm Quantum Economics, agreed. “In a lot of ways cryptocurrencies’ value are based on the network effect,” he said. “When you see things like presidents and presidential advisers adding laser eyes, that adds greatly to the network effect, which in turn adds to the value.”

Updated: 6-28-2021

Crypto Businesses Struggling To Fill Job Openings Amid Industry Expansion

Crypto firms pursuing global expansion agendas are having to compete to attract the limited number of top talent to fill job positions.

According to Bloomberg, crypto firms are finding it somewhat difficult to find the right candidates to fill job openings as these firms look to expand their operations across the globe.

The competition for skilled and experienced candidates is not alone among crypto-natives but also with legacy financial institutions that are establishing cryptocurrency-focused departments.

Even the broader fintech and technology services industry are also entering crypto, contributing to even greater competition for the limited workforce available. Back in May, tech giant Apple posted a job opening for a business development manager for alternative payments including cryptocurrency.

Neil Dundon, the founder of cryptocurrency-focused job agency Crypto Recruit, said that companies are experiencing difficulties matching applicants to roles. Despite the increase in interest for employment opportunities in the industry, skill shortage is reportedly a significant problem.

The Apple job, for instance, called for 10 years of experience, with at least a five-year track record with alternative payment services such as cryptocurrency.

According to Dundon, some firms are lowering the expectation in terms of skills and experience, adding:

“In terms of length of experience, one or two years is good enough these days […] The skills shortage is so bad at the moment that companies are casting a wider net.”

Candidates with “strong crypto knowledge” are reportedly a scarce commodity. Universities and colleges are now offering cryptocurrency and blockchain courses to bridge the skills gap in the $1.4-trillion industry.

Companies are also making internal adjustments to their hiring policies to make certain roles available for remote working conditions. With geographical constraints often restricting companies to a limited skills pool, some businesses are now offering roles to more skilled talents based overseas.

Competing with these established organizations also brings up issues with remuneration, with crypto firms needing to match or offer even greater benefits and incentives to attract skilled workers.

Updated: 8-17-2021

Which Universities Are The Best For Blockchain?

Calling students, academics and industry stakeholders: We need your help to identify the best places to learn about crypto and blockchain technology.

Universities have historically been central to getting new industries off the ground. Stanford was instrumental in the rise of Silicon Valley, and the MIT has helped birth thousands of tech startups, from artificial intelligence to aerospace.

What role will universities play in the development of blockchain technology? Will they be as pivotal as before, or will the cryptocurrency industry, by nature distrustful of institutions and central authorities, develop its own academic methods and learning approaches?

CoinDesk is keen to track how universities are doing when it comes to blockchain education across courses, employment outcomes, student services and research. In October 2020, we published our first ranking of the top 20 U.S. schools for getting an education in blockchain (MIT, Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley were the top three).

This year, we’re going further, analyzing 200 schools in the U.S. and internationally and adding ranking categories.

To identify the best schools, we need your help. We’re asking students, practicing academics and industry stakeholders to give their opinions in this survey.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long. You can choose between a quick one-minute questionnaire and a deeper five-minute one. And you’ll be doing a valuable service: Our goal in tracking and comparing what universities are doing on blockchain education and research is to improve overall standards – and, in turn, the entire industry.

We’ve seen plenty of blockchain startups emerge from universities already, including Ava Labs from Cornell and Algorand from MIT. Most leading schools now offer classes in blockchain subjects. Some have built research centers, hired specialist faculty and sanctioned student clubs.

The big question is whether universities can remain relevant to such a fast-moving industry. Many in crypto are suspicious of institutions and credentialism, favoring self-education, online innovation and community-based approaches. Universities themselves have to come to grips with this decentralization of information. Let’s see how well they’re up to the test.

If you are a faculty or staff member at an accredited university and you are concerned that your school will not be represented in our rankings, please reach out to joe.lautzenhiser [at] coindesk.com. If we are not currently collecting data on your school, you will have the opportunity to provide data and place your school under consideration. Student emails will not be answered.

Updated: 8-20-2021

Work Hard At Playing: How Video Game Job Markets May Develop

Who would have thought that video games could unironically represent a life well spent?

If you thought remote work was game-changing, wait until video game work gains traction. Blockchain-based NFT games such as Axie Infinity and Splinterlands have demonstrated that a play-to-earn business model has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry.

Pandora’s box has been opened, so to speak, and play-to-earn is here to stay. There are already people logging on to an online video game to spend their days earning a living. In this piece, we will explore what a world where earning income through video games is the norm will look like.

After Venezuela endured cataclysmic hyperinflation, it left individuals working minimum wage jobs and earning an unsustainable $5 dollars a month. However, in the wise words of Jeff Goldblum, “life finds a way.” Individuals had devised a means to earn a living through playing the video game RuneScape (OS).

This was achieved in a form of in-game labor — gold farming — where users would play the game to extract various items to sell to users for United States dollars. This happened despite the RuneScape developers Jagex forbidding any form of transaction of digital items for real-world currency.

It was a controversial practice and some RuneScape players thought farmers were simply exploiting the game without contributing anything to the community. This led to them PK’ing (player-killing) players they thought were farmers. Which in turn, opened up a new earning opportunity to provide security to these player’s farming accounts. This perfectly exemplifies how new job markets can snowball. Venezuelan players were able to provide a living for themselves, and there were even some media reports of players earning more than local doctors.

Economies Emerging

As long as in-game transactions can happen between players, users will attempt to exploit this by buying items with real-world money. For the integrity of the game, it is not in the best interests of developers to allow individuals to pay to win, as it provides an unfair advantage to users with the most disposable income.

However, the fact that digital items are gaining such value and new “jobs” are being created may lead to an all-out gold rush (pun intended). It parallels the emergence of the internet and the avalanche of developer jobs that brought with it.

Blockchain gaming is still very new and if job markets can develop in games that weren’t designed for them, one can only imagine the possibilities found within games designed to allow economies and job markets to function properly.

These new markets will need to be drastically different from what was observed in RuneScape. In-game items that provide an unfair “advantage” should not be on the market for real-world transactions, as this will discourage new players that feel they have to pay their way to a playable standard. But, there is no reason why items that don’t have utility can’t be sold. In-game items that don’t have utility will usually find value from aesthetics.

Aesthetic value is not to be taken lightly. This can be seen in games like Counter-Strike where gun skins are being sold on secondary markets for $4200, and even in League of Legends where the character skin “PAX twisted fate” will set you back $300.

What Sort Of Jobs?

Looking forward, what might jobs that provide real income look like in a blockchain governed game? While it’s difficult to speculate, I will attempt to provide some rough ideas:

Time-Intensive Tasks

One thing that will always be tied to value is time. Video games have long included time-intensive tasks in their games, and as we saw in the Venezuelan RuneScape example, players transacted their time to farm gold. The in-game items that are farmed have value because of the time it takes to gain these items.

Blockchain gaming can take this one step further, where players can offer their time to extract certain in-game items for real financial incentives. This is clearly seen in Axie Infinity where players will grind quests to gain SLP, the native token for Axie Infinity. It is claimed that if Axie Infinity players invest the necessary time they can earn up to 4,500 SLP a month which is currently worth around $935.

Item Generation/Design

As mentioned, aesthetics can represent serious value to some users. Blockchain sandbox MMORPG game Ember Sword has realized this and will open up the design process of items to game users who can spend time designing a new aesthetic skin (an item that represents the same utility but differs by how it looks) and sell this to other users as an NFT.

These NFTs can have coded royalties that will allow both the user who designed the item and the developers to own a percentage of royalty to further receive profits if the item is sold for a higher price on the secondary market. There is then a further scaling possibility for users to brand their items and even create an in-game company by hiring virtual employees to apply their branded design fundamentals to items. This same principle can be applied to virtual architects, interior designers and stylists, and the list goes on and on.

Social/Personality

Personalities can be very valuable and this is most clearly seen in twitch streamers. There are individuals who, although lacking skill or technique in video games, attract millions of viewers. There are opportunities for certain individuals with “attractive” personalities being paid to simply spend time around a certain area of virtual land to bring in more users to the area.

This may be something you would want to pay someone to do if you owned, for example, a virtual casino, so the deal may be mutually beneficial financially. Again, a form of royalty/commission can also be present here for certain users as an incentive to fulfill this role to a high standard.

Playing For Others

One tried and tested in-game value generation task can come from dungeons, raids and boss fighting tasks. This will typically involve users having to battle their way through a large number of enemies to get a final boss who, if users can defeat, will drop the most valuable in-game items/loot.

This kind of in-game work is both skill- and time-intensive. Therefore, it is specifically targeted at those who are more experienced players. However, it also poses opportunities for better players to offer their “services” to help less experienced players accomplish these tasks.

A Note Of Caution

How these technologies, and the jobs they bring with them, will play out is still a mystery. This means we should be proceeding with sensible cautiousness. There is a risk that better and easier financial gains to be made playing video games in less economically developed countries may attract workers away from more important tasks, as we saw with reports that some RuneScape players were outearning emergency services workers.

One caveat to this is that these digital economies draw from a global market, not just a local market, and it seems like it would bring additional money and opportunities into less economically developed areas as we’ve seen with Axie Infinity in the Philippines.

One beautiful thing about cryptocurrency is the freedom that it provides to users to control their own wealth. What we are seeing with blockchain gaming is an evolution of cryptocurrency. To some, it is just a cool new feature where our items are tradeable for profit, independent of the parameters of a single game.

To others, this is a life raft, a means to bring an income that is so desperately needed in a completely new and revolutionary way. Who would have thought that video games could unironically represent a life well spent?

Updated: 8-31-2021

Major Job Postings From The Crypto Space In 2021

Some institutional players, online retailers, and media organizations have called for recruits with experience in crypto or blockchain.

As crypto and blockchain firms grow and need to navigate regulatory and economic challenges for the industry, many have to hire outside to find the best workers. This year, major companies, financial institutions, and even government agencies announced they were searching for fresh blood to help them adapt to the ever-changing crypto space.

In February, major online retailer Amazon posted it was seeking a software development manager in Mexico to help launch “a new payment product.” The Digital and Emerging Payments project was aimed at allowing residents of Mexico to buy cryptocurrencies with cash so they could spend digital currency while shopping on Amazon.

Though there are reports the online retailer intends to accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments by 2022, the company has not officially announced such plans.

In July, Amazon said it was looking for a Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead for its Seattle office, hinting at a possible change as to how customers pay on Amazon’s websites.

Apple, the largest company in the world by market capitalization, seems to also be focusing on crypto payments based on a recent job posting. In May, the major tech firm said it was recruiting for a business development manager specializing in alternative payments, specifically preferring someone with experience in “alternative payment providers,” including cryptocurrency.

Reaching Across Industries

Though two of the Big Four may be considering a shift to digital payments, some financial institutions seem to require workers be able to work within regulatory guidelines while still growing the business. In April, the Bank of England announced it was looking for 7 people to fill new positions related to a central bank digital currency, despite the fact it has not officially reached a decision on releasing one.

Japan’s Ministry of Finance was reportedly considering increasing its staff to address growth in the crypto market, including regulations concerning fiat-pegged stablecoins.

It seems as though job seekers with both a knowledge of cryptocurrencies or blockchain and the experience to back it up may have their pick of the litter when it comes to employment, given the industry is barely a decade old and has the potential to make money in a variety of companies. In July, major U.S. investment bank JPMorgan started accepting applications for blockchain-focused software developers, engineers, marketers and auditors.

Other firms simply seem to be responding to a growing industry in job postings. The crypto arm of asset management firm Fidelity Investments reportedly wanted to increase its number of staff by 70% in response to additional interest from institutional investors. Major crypto exchange Coinbase is also attempting to gain greater access to some of the 1.4 billion people of India by hiring locals for its engineering, software development and customer support operations in the country.

Reporting On Crypto

Even media outlets don’t necessarily have the staff to properly report on the crypto space. News organizations like Bloomberg have dedicated journalists on crypto and blockchain, but Time Magazine is still looking for a chief financial officer who has “comfort with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.”

According to Neil Dundon, the founder of crypto-focused job agency Crypto Recruit, “one or two years” experience is usually good enough for the industry, given it was only created in 2009. However, just as with the dawn of any new technology like radio, television, or the Internet, interest in and from candidates will likely grow as more institutions offer more options for cryptocurrency and blockchain education to meet demand.

Updated: 9-3-2021

Crypto And Blockchain Jobs’ Share Grew 118% In 10 Months, New Data Shows

Not only has demand for cryptocurrency- and blockchain-related expertise increased, but new data suggests that the kinds of roles being posted have shifted over time.

Gathering together the most recent data on the cryptocurrency and blockchain job market, a new report suggests that higher levels of institutional adoption have spurred greater demand for expertise in the sector.

According to the employment website Indeed — cited Thursday in Korea IT Times — as of mid-July 2021, the overall share of crypto and blockchain job postings on the platform has grown 118% compared with early September 2020.

This solid growth has also come with a shift in the roles being sought after, with the share of management posts in crypto and blockchain increasing 29.87% year-on-year as of July 16. Human resource accounts have risen 200% over the same time frame, whereas software development jobs have dropped down to 29.7% of all crypto and blockchain posts compared with 34.8% the previous year. All data on the allocation of roles has reportedly been drawn from the crypto trading simulator Crypto Parrot.

As the Korea IT Times observes, blockchain-related roles tend toward a higher salary range than other technology posts as they demand a strong knowledge of cryptography combined with expertise in ledger economics and object-oriented programming, among other areas. While crypto and blockchain — even DeFi— have gained traction in educational institutions steadily, the report alleges that many developers in the sector remain largely autodidact, suggesting that universities and programs are lagging.

The report further claims that reliance upon remote workers during the pandemic may prove to be a good fit for an industry that prizes decentralization, encouraging core developers and researchers to engage with multiple partners and employers on different projects.

While the report does not provide data on the share of public and private sector employers seeking crypto talent, this year has seen everyone from Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to the Bank of England advertise related roles.

In the private sector, the crypto arm of asset management firm Fidelity Investments has reportedly been planning to grow its workforce by 70%, JP Morgan began accepting applications for blockchain-focused software developers, and Amazon has been seeking someone to lead its digital currency and blockchain strategy and product roadmap amid unconfirmed claims that the mega-retailer will accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments by 2022.

Updated: 8-16-2021

Which Universities Are The Best For Blockchain?

Calling students, academics and industry stakeholders: We need your help to identify the best places to learn about crypto and blockchain technology.

Universities have historically been central to getting new industries off the ground. Stanford was instrumental in the rise of Silicon Valley, and the MIT has helped birth thousands of tech startups, from artificial intelligence to aerospace.

What role will universities play in the development of blockchain technology? Will they be as pivotal as before, or will the cryptocurrency industry, by nature distrustful of institutions and central authorities, develop its own academic methods and learning approaches?

CoinDesk is keen to track how universities are doing when it comes to blockchain education across courses, employment outcomes, student services and research. In October 2020, we published our first ranking of the top 20 U.S. schools for getting an education in blockchain (MIT, Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley were the top three).

This year, we’re going further, analyzing 200 schools in the U.S. and internationally and adding ranking categories.

To identify the best schools, we need your help. We’re asking students, practicing academics and industry stakeholders to give their opinions in the survey below.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long. You can choose between a quick one-minute questionnaire and a deeper five-minute one. And you’ll be doing a valuable service: Our goal in tracking and comparing what universities are doing on blockchain education and research is to improve overall standards – and, in turn, the entire industry.

We’ve seen plenty of blockchain startups emerge from universities already, including Ava Labs from Cornell and Algorand from MIT. Most leading schools now offer classes in blockchain subjects. Some have built research centers, hired specialist faculty and sanctioned student clubs.

The big question is whether universities can remain relevant to such a fast-moving industry. Many in crypto are suspicious of institutions and credentialism, favoring self-education, online innovation and community-based approaches. Universities themselves have to come to grips with this decentralization of information. Let’s see how well they’re up to the test.

If you are a faculty or staff member at an accredited university and you are concerned that your school will not be represented in our rankings, please reach out to joe.lautzenhiser [at] coindesk.com. If we are not currently collecting data on your school, you will have the opportunity to provide data and place your school under consideration. Student emails will not be answered.

Updated: 10-4-2021

The Top Universities For Blockchain By CoinDesk 2021

This year’s ranking of 230 schools worldwide sees Asian names dominate and European universities rise up the board. Berkeley and MIT are the highest-rated U.S. schools.

CoinDesk’s rankings cover courses, research output, campus blockchain offerings (like student clubs and research centers), employment outcomes, academic reputation and cost.

This year’s ranking rates 230 schools internationally, expanding the sample from just U.S. schools in our first university ranking last year.

Overall, the National University of Singapore is in first place as a result of its multiple blockchain research centers, its frequently hosted blockchain-themed conferences, its many blockchain clubs, its company partnerships and its masters program in digital financial technology.

Also representing Asia in the top 10 are Hong Kong Polytechnic, Tsinghua University and Chinese University of Hong Kong. RMIT in Melbourne comes second while representing Europe are the University of Zurich, UCL and ETH Zurich.

The top U.S schools are Berkeley (third) and MIT (fifth). Cornell, which was second last year, is now in 17th place. Stanford, which placed fourth in 2020, is now in 12th. Harvard, which was fifth last year, is now 49th, reflecting stronger competition this time, and that schools with strong overall reputations aren’t always the best performers when it comes to blockchain.

Below Are The Full Top 50 In Our Ranking:

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin) With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

More About Top Universities For Blockchain

This is the second year CoinDesk has done these rankings. Last year we tracked 46 U.S. schools, and ranked the top 30. This year, we tracked 230 schools internationally.

Data is good. There is an absence of data on this space: Research and teaching can only get better if we track what academic institutions are offering.

We hope these rankings prompts the sharing of best practices in teaching and other campus offerings. We profile the top 30 schools here, and invite those and other schools to share with the world what they are doing. We want to hear from you.

Research was led by Reuben Youngblom, a researcher from Stanford and MIT, along with CoinDesk’s Joe Lautzenhiser. To assess the rankings, they scoured publicly available sources including course catalogues, program prospectuses, social media channels, club web page the Clarivate Web of Science, and devised an online survey where academics, students and stakeholders could rate the offerings at their schools and their competitors.

Mindful that the cost of university education varies wildly, this year we introduced a metric that compares the unsubsidized tuition costs against the average cost of living in the region in which the school is located.

How We Ranked The Top Universities For Blockchain

Our methodology for ranking of 230 institutions worldwide, and how your school can get involved.

To this end, we’ve made two major changes to our methodology this year. First, we included not only more schools, but a wider variety of schools – our field has expanded from 46 U.S.-based universities to more than 200 schools (230, to be exact) from around the globe. Second, we factored in “cost of attendance” to reflect a metric of growing concern for many current and future students.

Above all, we want to ensure that these rankings do what they’re intended to do: offer a holistic snapshot of the intersection between this transformative technology and institutions of higher education. We believe that a transparent, intellectually defensible ranking can help condense what ends up being an incredible amount of difficult-to-find information (with innumerable factors) down into a more manageable format.

In the open-source spirit, we’d also like to reiterate our commitment to integrity and data transparency. We are more than happy to discuss and/or share our data, our methods or anything else about the project upon request.

Sample Size

Our official sample size for these rankings was 230 individual schools, which is not nearly the total number of universities that exist around the world. To determine on which institutions to focus, we added schools to the list according to their ability to meet any one of three criteria.

First, we included any school that was listed in the top 100 of any one of the USNWR Best Global Universities (2021), the QS World University Rankings (2022), the ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (2021), or the World University Rankings (2022).

We also included any school that had been considered last year (2020) that was similarly based on aggregating outside rankings. This gave us a large initial sample.

This setup, however, if limited to just these two criteria, could pose a problem: What if a lower-ranked school (as judged by USNWR, QS, ARWU, or THE) is doing amazing work but fails to be considered simply because a few outside sources happened to overlook them in their global rankings? This is far from a desirable outcome.

On the other hand, we simply don’t have the resources to closely examine every school in existence, especially when relatively few of them are engaged in the kind of impactful blockchain work that is likely to lead to a place on our rankings.

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

To balance these considerations, our third criteria was a compromise: When we released our qualitative survey, we also included a call for any school, anywhere in the world, to request inclusion/consideration in our rankings.

By opening our criteria but placing the burden of requesting to be included on the schools themselves, we were able to remove any artificial limitations on which schools were considered while simultaneously maintaining a high level of confidence that any school that took the affirmative step of asking to be evaluated would ultimately be worth our time and resources to examine closely.

These final 230 institutions represent some of the best schools in existence today, and our final sample saw a mix of large, traditionally “elite” research institutions and smaller schools, from public to private, from free to expensive, with every continent (with the exception of Antarctica) represented.

Methodology

To Determine Final Scores, We Looked At Five Primary Categories:

(1) An Institution’s Strength In Research And Academic Contributions To Advancing The Field;
(2) The Existing Blockchain Offerings On Campus, Whether In The Form Of Classes, Educational Centers, Clubs, Etc.;
(3) Employment And Industry Outcomes;
(4) Cost Of Attendance; And
(5) Overall Academic Reputation.

Each category comprises multiple sub-categories, offering a holistic picture of a university’s presence in the blockchain space. For a final score, we assigned points to each institution proportional to their performance in each category, and normalized their final point totals on a scale from 0-100.

1) Scholarly Impact: To determine a school’s scholarly impact score, we relied primarily on the Clarivate Web Of Science database.

We took the total number of publications (all subjects) from each school, and narrowed them to include only blockchain- or cryptocurrency-related papers published between 2019-2021 (including forthcoming papers slated for 2022).

From this set, we generated citation reports and created subsets in which the first author of the publication was affiliated with the university in question. The resulting data gave us the key metrics of:

(1) Total Blockchain Research Papers Published By University Affiliates,
(2) How Often These Papers Were Cited, And Rough Numbers On
(3) How Often The Primary Researcher On A Paper Comes From A Given Institution (The “First Author” Convention Being, Of Course, Discipline Dependent).

Raw numbers, however, don’t always tell the full story. A bigger school, with a larger faculty and a hefty endowment, may be putting out more blockchain research overall (while still managing to devote a relatively small percentage of its resources to the field), while a tiny school that dedicates a much more impressive percentage of its overall resources to blockchain research may end up with fewer papers simply due to a smaller overall headcount.

To account for this, we also normalized each data point (where applicable) against the total institutional output. When normalized in this way, a smaller university that is devoting a larger proportion of its research to blockchain will be rewarded relative to a more massive university who is able to pump out a greater quantity of research with less investment.

In recognition of the fact that both raw output and targeted output are valuable metrics, both are factored into our rankings, along with the aggregated H-Index of a school’s blockchain publications. For anyone interested in reproducing our dataset, please ensure that a) you have full access to the Web of Knowledge and all Clarivate subscriptions; and b) use our query to filter the results: “cryptocurrenc* OR blockchai* OR bitcoi* OR ethereum OR stablecoi*”

2) Campus Blockchain Offerings: To arrive at a school’s blockchain offerings score, we examined multiple facets of their existing campus infrastructure. Campus course offerings are the largest single subcategory that we looked at.

The number of available classes (especially when spread over multiple departments, providing an opportunity for a more robust education) shows a deep investment into the space both in the present and for the future.

Faculty must be hired, curricula must be developed and administrative buy-in must be achieved. These are not done on a whim, and are usually quite permanent.

The second-largest factor in our rankings is the presence of a dedicated blockchain research center, although we also separately considered smaller initiatives and student-run clubs.

Research centers and initiatives often offer unique opportunities for students to get involved in academic work or obtain hands-on experience, and can serve as a gravity well for novel ideas and thinkers (especially when these entities take the additional step of organizing conferences, summits or other educational events).

Research centers, initiatives and clubs all allow students, faculty and the larger community to connect with other enthusiasts, and tend to provide a crucial tether between academia and industry.

Lastly, to round out this category, we gathered data on the nascent but ever-growing set of universities that offer blockchain-related degrees, whether at the graduate or undergraduate level and sometimes as a concentration within another degree. As a whole, the Campus Blockchain Offerings category is the most consequential component of our methodology.

3) Employment And Industry Outcomes: A university’s ability to place students into relevant jobs is an important metric for two reasons: one, it says something about an institution’s cache in the industry, either due to name recognition, personal connections, or institutional pipelines; and two, this is of particular importance to current and incoming students.

A student’s primary goal in obtaining a college education is, after all, often to secure a job in industry. To discover which schools are placing the most graduates in the blockchain field, we looked at the LinkedIn footprint of over 200 of the largest and most influential companies in the space, as well as their thousands and thousands of employees.

To mitigate biases, we factored in both raw and normalized numbers. Raw numbers are useful for highlighting schools that are placing a high number of graduates into jobs, but larger schools in larger countries will tend to have an advantage simply because of sheer size.

Normalized numbers paint a more nuanced picture of hiring practices. To shed some light on our data, we tweaked our data in two additional ways. First, because we relied heavily on LinkedIn as a source, we found it prudent to get a sense of how accurate LinkedIn might be for different countries.

To do this, we used each country’s size, higher education levels, and LinkedIn use to generate a multiplier for each university based on the expected number of hires that we may have missed. Countries with lower proportionate levels of LinkedIn use got a boost in terms of raw numbers.

Second, we also recognize that raw numbers can easily be inflated simply due to the size of a population. The University of Buenos Aires, for example, with its ~300,000 students, is much more likely to place 200 alums into blockchain jobs than someplace like Rockefeller University with its ~213 students.

The University of Buenos Aires placing 200 grads into blockchain is expected even with zero investment into the field, whereas Rockefeller placing that same number would be indicative of something closer to a school that is focused entirely on blockchain (highly unlikely, as Rockefeller is well-respected bio/medical sciences university). To account for this, we normalized against school size, as well.

To gather qualitative data, we also surveyed industry stakeholders and other non-students, non-academics to get a sense of how institutions are (subjectively) viewed by those who consider themselves to be outside of academia. This data was quantified numerically, as was information about the number of active industry partnerships (including sponsored research) maintained by each university.

4) Cost of Attendance: To calculate a school’s Cost of Attendance score, we looked at both overall cost and a normalized construction of overall cost of attendance. We assumed here that lower tuition was preferable, and feel that we ought to acknowledge the important caveat that we only considered the base price of a university, while in actual practice, grants, scholarships, opportunity costs, and even residency can completely change an individual’s calculation.

Along similar lines, tuition is a purely student-facing concern, while we hope that these rankings find use by non-students. Because of these concerns, our cost metric is, by weight, the least consequential component of our methodology.

Two pieces of data were factored in to generate this score. The first is tuition, with one note. Whenever possible, we assumed that an attendee would be from within the country but out of state when calculating tuition costs. Of course, some universities just have one flat fee.

Others, however, charge different amounts of tuition for in-state (versus out of state), and have yet another fee schedule for international students. To capture the largest number of likely students, we consistently applied the “out of state but not out of country” tuition rule whenever necessary.

The second piece of data is a normalized cost of attendance. To determine this, we employed both salary data for the country in which the university is located and an external cost-of-living chart as proxy data to build a combined country-specific cost of living index. We then ran raw tuition data against this hybrid index to assign ranked scores to each university.

5) Academic Reputation: In a perfect world, rankings would emphasize merit, and anonymized, quantifiable data would be sufficient to judge a university’s impact in the blockchain space. Realistically, however, the intangibles of a school have an outsized impact on everything from a student’s job prospects, to their ability to get a foot in the door of an internship, to the caliber of speaker that will spend their limited time giving a talk at any given school.

To pretend that reputation doesn’t matter, that history is insignificant, is to do a disservice to our rankings. The effect of a school’s academic reputation on our methodology, however, is dwarfed by every other category except for cost, reflecting both the recent shift away from credentialism and the greater weight that we assign to more tangible, productive metrics.

To determine an institution’s reputation score, we looked at two criteria: (a) existing, overall reputation as calculated by USNWR, THE, ARWU, and QS; and (b) reputation as determined by our own qualitative surveys, which asked both practicing academics and current students to evaluate schools. This data was split according to whether it came from a student or an academic, and quantified numerically.

Similar to last year, there are two common threads in our methodology. First, in keeping with our goal of rigor, defensibility and reproducibility, we used externally verified, quantitative data whenever such data was available, and normalized this data where appropriate to add as much nuance into our rankings as possible.

When we required qualitative data, we sent out open, public, shareable surveys through all available channels and did our best not to limit participation in any way.

Second, we made every attempt to examine each data point from as many angles as possible. As is often the case, any given data point can be seen as a positive in some situations but a negative when seen through a different lens. Normalization is one tool to combat this, but so are things like common sense and a dispassionate analysis of the landscape. Data tells a story, and our goal was to let our data tell as complete a story as we could.

On Rankings In General

As a final note, we’d like to echo a sentiment expressed last year and address the project of creating university rankings in a more general sense. In important ways, ordinal rankings are incredibly useful for showing very specific data or reducing large amounts of information down into a digestible format, but are also both narrow and inherently malleable.

Even small changes to the methodology can have outsized effects on the final result, as can outlier data or even researcher-introduced errors. To state that rankings are vulnerable to criticisms of subjectivity and malleability is not intended to marginalize our data or the larger project at hand; rather, we hope that by highlighting the limitations of our output, these rankings will be more useful to a greater number of individuals.

We are very willing to discuss our methodology, share data, answer questions, and address concerns. Interested readers are encouraged to contact Joe Lautzenshiser (joe.lautzenhiser [at] coindesk.com).

As a final note, it’s worth noting that we hope these rankings serve as the foundation for a living, breathing resource that goes well beyond an ordered list of schools. We have started and will continue to do this research, but we’re not naive enough to believe that we can build this particular monument alone.

But we believe this resource illuminating one small corner of the blockchain universe has tremendous value – for students seeking a more traditional path into the industry, for academics hoping to collaborate with like-minded individuals, for companies wondering where specific research is being done. As a first step, we’ve started filling out profiles for some of the top universities, but we’d eventually like to have every school represented.

Students can contribute to this by checking their school(s) and having an authorized university representative (e.g., a member of the media/communications/etc. team) contact us if any information is outdated or missing, or if their schools do not yet have a profile.

Individuals can help by highlighting important research and projects, or novel approaches to blockchain education. Schools can help by examining these rankings and using them as a signal for how to improve. Ultimately, the answer is simple: devote resources to educating students, faculty, and the community about blockchain technology.

Do You Need To Go To College To Work In Crypto?

College dropouts sometimes become world-changing legends, including in crypto. But the big picture is a lot more complicated.

Against All Authority

“I told my parents, I’m willing to die on this hill. I don’t want to go on with this because it’s just about ticking boxes. My dad happened to agree.

“We went to the school, I think it was on my 16th birthday, and I withdrew.”

You may not know Keonne Rodriguez by name, but you know his story. From the age of nine he compulsively played with the family computer, and was being paid to code web pages for local businesses by the time he was 14. He would go on to major success in the blockchain industry – but despite his obvious talent and focus, he had challenges with formal education.

“I was in advanced programs, honors, advanced placement [but] I was really starting to develop an allergy to bureaucracy and things that didn’t make sense.” The breaking point came when his high school instituted a required computing course – one Rodriguez is certain he could have taught.

The College Conundrum

Some of the most successful people in the tech industry either didn’t attend or didn’t complete college. Famed dropouts include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – world-changers who made billions of dollars without a diploma.

Those stories have become totemic in the tech world, even as broader skepticism of college spreads. That skepticism is partly driven by financial calculus: As tuition and student debt loads rise dramatically, there’s more reason to ask whether the investment in college is really worth it.

Various startups and reformers have established alternative paths, from coding boot camps to online certification programs to radical new models like Minerva University.

Some organizations, such as Peter Thiel’s Thiel Fellowship, push an even stronger line: not that college is too expensive or inefficient but that, at least for some people, it’s a waste of time at any cost. The Fellowship awards $100,000 to “young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom.” Recipients must skip or drop out of college to be eligible.

That backdrop makes things particularly challenging and confusing for young people interested in careers in crypto. Spending three or four or five years on a campus could seem like a big sacrifice in an industry that changes so fast.

And perhaps the single most widely admired person in crypto stands as an example of the potential of skipping school: Vitalik Buterin received the Thiel Fellowship in 2014 and, instead of going to college, used the time to build Ethereum.

But the data about college outcomes tells a much different story than the biographies of these few outliers. The average college degree holder will earn $625,483 more than a high school graduate over his or her lifetime.

College graduates also have much higher lifetime employment rates, better lifelong health and even longer-lasting marriages, according to a 2015 study by University of Maine education researcher Philip Trostel.

Moderate critics of higher ed acknowledge this reality. “I’m a pragmatist. At the individual level, you should take the system as it’s constructed,” said investor Marc Andreessen during a 2020 interview that was otherwise quite critical of the status quo in higher ed. “I think it’s actually quite dangerous to give someone as an individual the advice, ‘don’t go to college.’”

The data about college outcomes tells a much different story than the biographies of these few outliers

The reality on the ground in the crypto and blockchain industries, too, seems a bit less freewheeling than the mythos would have it. While reporting this story, I reached out to about a dozen close contacts in the industry, asking if they knew anyone who had found a role building in crypto without going to college.

Rodriguez was the only example I was able to unearth. Unscientifically, it seems the overwhelming majority of people with serious careers in crypto are college graduates.

That makes sense once you remember how many complex ideas are wrapped up in the design and deployment of blockchains. The crypto industry moves fast, but that’s in part because it draws from a many-layered, complex “stack” of intellectual traditions, legal norms and technical breakthroughs stretching back decades, even centuries.

That includes not just extremely advanced computer science, but the far frontiers of securities law, economics, even sociology and art.

The Bitcoin Off-Ramp

Keonne [Key-own-ee] Rodriguez defied those odds and immediately thrived – not just without going to college, but without even finishing high school. Despite his outlier status, his means of ascent holds career lessons even for people who do take the college route.

Most importantly, Rodriguez was able to clearly demonstrate his real-world effectiveness thanks to a portfolio of web design work built up in his early teens. His portfolio was the first step towards a string of full-time positions that grew his skill set further, at the same age he would have normally been attending college.

Eventually he found himself a very well-paid coder and designer at Cleversafe, a security company that’s now part of IBM.

But then things hit a rough patch, thanks to the same thing that was derailing a lot of tech careers circa 2012: Bitcoin.

“I got so obsessed with bitcoin that I couldn’t stop tweeting about it,” Rodriguez told me. “So [Cleversafe] got concerned. We mutually decided it was better for me to focus on my passion.”

Things moved fast after that. Rodriguez, who was based in the U.K., showed up at an early bitcoin conference organized in London by Blockchain.com.

Blockchain “had just gotten some money from Roger Ver and they were building out the initial staff. I just told [them], I’m interested, here’s my portfolio and if you guys need someone let’s talk. I was interviewed by Dan Held and Changpeng Zhao.”

Those names may sound familiar. Nearly a decade later, Held is head of growth at the crypto exchange Kraken. Changpeng Zhao is slightly better known as “CZ,” the CEO of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by a country mile.

Rodriguez became employee number eight at Blockchain, living and working with a small initial crew in York, U.K. He eventually became head of user experience for Blockchain’s wallet, then its main product.

But Can You Write Poetry?

Rodriguez, who evolved from web coding to front-end design, could clearly demonstrate results. But in fields where results are less tangible, that approach doesn’t work as well. “Anyone with hopes of a managerial position needs a college diploma,” for example, according to Steve Mintz, a historian and education researcher at the University of Texas.

That also applies to much of the high-level, back-end system design work involved in blockchain projects. In fact, blockchain encompasses so many deep concepts that it’s an ideal introduction to computer science as a whole.

“I use blockchain as a way to introduce a number of computer science fields in my courses,” says Professor Ron Van Der Meyden at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “Here we’ve got this brilliant application which, to really understand how it’s working, there’s a lot of pieces of computer science we can introduce – cryptography, consensus. And each of those has a whole lot of [complexity] behind them.”

That sort of deep theoretical knowledge may seem abstract from the outside, but according to Van Der Meyden, it’s extremely practical.

“You can look at a particular thing you need to code, and identify within that problem, [for example,] here’s something that a finite set automata would be good for,” he says. “You learn how to think about, ‘I’m not just going to write a program, I’m going to really care about how efficiently that program performs.’ That requires a conceptual toolset.”

That’s why Van Der Meyden believes there’s little comparison between the strictly functional coding knowledge conveyed in condensed courses, and what students get from a full computer science degree.

“With respect to code camps, I would say that what those are giving you is just the coding skills. It’s kind of like, you can speak English but can you write poetry?”

Van Der Meyden also believes those pushing against college may have a point – but only within their own very narrow sphere. Peter Thiel “is thinking of his experiences in Silicon Valley, Harvard, Yale, that small fragment of the world,” he says of the entrepreneur’s Fellowship program.

By contrast, many of Van Der Meyden’s students come from developing parts of Asia. UNSW considers educating these students something of a social mission because it ultimately helps their home nations advance and grow.

“That’s a very different world than the world Thiel is thinking about.”

College In Context

As Marc Andreessen pointed out, it’s important to separate the broader debate over college from individual decisions. Simple math shows that going to college is still the right choice for those who have the option. And this is crypto – we trust math, right?

Still, it’s important to be tuned in to the broader debate, which breaks down into essentially two camps. On one side are those who focus on declining public spending on higher education, which has pushed costs on to students.

On the other side are those who argue the university model itself is broken, and that new educational approaches and less reliance on credentials are the longer-term solution.

It’s important to keep in mind that critics of traditional colleges are often trying to profit from the alternatives. Andreessen Horowitz has substantial investments in edtech startups trying to disrupt college with new models for financing and delivering education. So does Peter Thiel – making the Thiel Fellowship as much a marketing expense as a philanthropic project.

Broadly, would-be education disruptors “unbundle” the college experience – with its partying, athletics and residence halls – from pure education. For example, it was for a time thought that Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, would upend the traditional college model by providing free or very cheap lectures from top-tier professors, available anywhere in the world.

But the promise of edtech has become much hazier. The coronavirus pandemic shutdown of most in-person schooling was a chance for online learning to shine, but it largely wound up demonstrating the limitations of education ripped from its social context and individual feedback.

Endless Zoom lectures and isolation have led to mass burnout for students and educators alike. That shouldn’t have been a surprise – remote alternatives had already proven ineffective for most learners. Fewer than 15% of participants, for instance, complete MOOCs.

“I think it’s much more than creating great content and putting it up on the web,” David Deming, professor of education and economics at Harvard, said on the a16z podcast last year. “I think that’s why MOOCs haven’t revolutionized the market, because that’s not what education is. Education is not just content, it’s also engagement and personalization.”

It’s also worth remembering that even as some members of the American elite voice skepticism of traditional college, others are willing to go to absurd lengths to get their kids on exactly that path.

The 2019 college admissions scandal arguably showed just how valuable college is to the wealthiest Americans, who were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and commit obvious fraud to fake admissions credentials for their unimpressive spawn.

But that’s just the egregious tip of the double-standard iceberg: One recent study found that 43 % of white Harvard students were either legacy admissions (students attending the same college their parents or other relatives attended), athletes or related to donors. (The rate was under 16% for non-white students). If those kids aren’t going to code camp or getting an education on YouTube, maybe you shouldn’t be either.

On the other hand, it’s true that college isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly not perfect. I know that firsthand: My initial career goal was to become a professor, and I even earned a PhD and landed a short string of research jobs.

Ultimately, I found myself leaving academia. I had a variety of reasons, but a big one was that I saw the life of the mind dying a slow death in American higher education.

During my career I taught at universities and colleges of various stripes, and found that many of them were havens for mediocrity and stasis, with professors merely pantomiming research – and even more often, pantomiming teaching.

There are still many colleges full of brilliant, engaged people in wonderful, grass-green settings, and I have walked that sort of glorious lawn. But not every college is the intellectual Arcadia of myth – in fact, it sometimes seems that fewer and fewer of them are. And this, too, is borne out by the numbers: For non-technical fields like business and social science, the rank and quality of a school has a major impact on the career prospects of its graduates.

The Quitter’s Dilemma

On both sides of the college debate I heard consensus on at least one good reason not to go to college: if you really, really don’t want to.

“For someone who is convinced that they’re a genius and don’t need a college education,” says Trostel, the education researcher, “they’re not going to put in the effort and they’re not going to get much out of it.”

In other words, it’s not that being brilliant guarantees you’ll succeed without a degree – it’s that without some humility, you’ll never earn one. Unlike most investments, education doesn’t just require time and money, but also mental and emotional focus.

If you can’t or won’t apply those, you might as well not waste resources trying to earn a degree.

Going straight into the workforce might seem like an immediate way to learn practical skills – but it’s hard to say in advance what ‘practical’ really means

This was certainly true for Keonne Rodriguez. As much as his clear passion and portfolio justified skipping college, he was also very self-aware about the challenges he would face with a traditionally structured education. He even tried to attend college, twice, after completing his GED. His second try was at a computer science program at Oxford.

“I figured, it’s such a prestigious program, it must be different,” he says. “But I figured out it’s not the program, it’s me.” He dropped out, and soon after that he joined Blockchain.

Cases like Rodriguez’s, it must be emphasized, are exceedingly rare – particularly because Rodriguez, whose father was a lifeguard, didn’t come into the world with either a thick family bankroll or a built-in professional network.

Many of the world’s celebrated dropouts rely on those advantages: Bill Gates’ father, for instance, was a prominent lawyer, and his mother was a major business figure who helped Microsoft ink a crucial early deal with IBM.

And as much as we celebrate successful dropouts, it’s just as important to remember those who fail. We don’t know most of their names, but you might include Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook has made him fabulously wealthy, but blindness to complex social impacts may earn his creation the same infamy now accorded tobacco and oil companies.

Or take Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who modeled herself after Steve Jobs, in part by dropping out of Stanford. She is now facing criminal fraud charges in large part because of her lack of education in the basic medical science at the core of her failed company. At age 37, her name is tarnished forever.

“There’s also an ethics component” to education, says Matthew D’Amore, a professor and associate dean at Cornell Tech, which offers courses on blockchain and the law. “How does my idea fit into the world? Is my idea just designed to make money or is it designed to improve people’s lives? Those kinds of things don’t necessarily come naturally to folks, and the opportunity to get that perspective exists on a college campus differently than elsewhere.”

It’s a final helpful way to think about the college question for aspiring blockchain innovators. Going straight into the workforce might seem like an immediate way to learn practical skills – but it’s hard to say in advance what “practical” really means.

The complexity of crypto isn’t just in the technical dimension: It touches on nearly every aspect of human life, and its transformative potential is so profound it demands truly deep, expansive thinking. And the industry rewards that: it’s certainly why I’m here.

Famous dropout Steve Jobs, surprisingly, is also evidence for the value of a broad education. Though he left the formal college track, he frequently sat in on college courses.

The Most Important One Wasn’t About Computers At All: The seeds of Apple’s nuanced design philosophy, the differentiator that helped it become the world’s most valuable company, were planted by a course on calligraphy taught by a former monk.

Updated: 10-5-2021

Higher Education Needs A Michael Saylor

Rather than vainly trying to reinvent themselves, colleges could take a simpler route to modernity and buy bitcoin.

In 2018, a Harvard expert named Clayton Christensen predicted that 50% of the 4,000 colleges in the U.S. will be bankrupt in the next 10 to 15 years. The cause will be that online education will disrupt traditional face-to-face institutions, coupled with a decline in the number of college-aged students. There is just too much supply and not enough demand, and online education just exacerbates that imbalance.

My guess is that some of these colleges, their faculty, staff, students and communities would love to keep their doors open. Having worked in higher education for 20 years and experienced the cycles of enrollment, the playbook for survival is to add and/or subtract new academic programs or sports, shrink the number of faculty and staff, divest unnecessary physical space and find new sources of revenue. That last one right there is the Holy Grail that we have been dreaming about for decades.

The problem with this strategy is the approximately 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. are fighting for the same pool of students, projected to decline an additional 11 to 15% by 2025. As a result, the colleges and universities that survive will not do so based on new academic programs or sports, but the ones that right-size and have the greatest reserves to weather the storm.

I have been at the table for these conversations or in the room at budget town hall or committee meetings, and in my head I have been screaming, just buy bitcoin!!! The harsh reality is that it is probably better for me to just keep that locked up right there in my head.

If not, the silence in the room would be deafening unless there was laughter, which is nearly as plausible depending on the audience. If I suggested just buy bitcoin, it’s possible my office might be located in the basement before I knew it. I hope that I have a stapler, at least.

Eventually, I would have been proven right, as we know anyone who has held bitcoin longer than four years has never lost. Higher education is notoriously slow to adopt new technology or change, widely described as glacial.

I’m not suggesting that higher education alter its entire business processes around cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, but in Michael Saylor-like fashion hold all of their cash reserves and endowment funds in bitcoin. As bitcoiners know, adoption is inevitable; by the time higher education catches on, the opportunity for large bankruptcy avoiding gains will be gone.

Other than higher education’s inability to enact change quickly, there are environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that will make most colleges in higher education the last to act. Nearly every college in the United States incorporates environmental sustainability into their strategic plans, or have committees charged with doing so. This is a noble endeavor, but bitcoin and the FUD around mining is intractable and in direct conflict with the institution’s sustainability goals.

Furthermore, approximately 1,000 higher education institutions happily subject themselves to the organization named the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). They proudly advertise on their websites a rating of bronze, silver, gold or platinum.

One of the criteria for how well an institution scores is based on how much of the endowment is invested in fossil fuels. In September, Harvard dropped all investments in its endowment related to oil and gas. Can you imagine the criticisms if they confirm that they have already bought bitcoin!

Institutions that disinvest from fossil fuels in the name of environmental sustainability are making a monumental strategic error that will be hard pressed to unwind, thus delaying their entry into bitcoin. (To be clear, I’m not talking about the small investments schools have already made in bitcoin; I mean Michael Saylor-sized outlays.)

My favorite quote from MicroStrategy CEO and bitcoin advocate Michael Saylor is “you don’t have to invest all of your money in bitcoin, just the money you don’t want to lose.” If higher education institutions don’t invest in a Saylor-like fashion, Christensen will be right. In August of 2020, Wells College, located in upstate New York, and 200 other small, private colleges were in danger of closing due to the pandemic.

At the end of 2019, Wells College endowment was valued at $27 million if its president had invested it all in bitcoin on Jan. 1, 2020, the endowment would be valued at $180 million today, give or take a few million. Anyone can be a Monday morning quarterback, and yes Bitcoin is volatile, but over time it is only volatile in one direction. Just buy bitcoin!

Another challenge in delaying bitcoin purchases is the endowment fund managers’ overall lack of understanding of bitcoin and self preservation. I say self-preservation because every fund manager thinks they can outperform the market, if not then why would we need them? If you were paying attention, bitcoin was the best-performing asset from 2010-2020 and is likely to be the best performing asset for the next decade. It’s going to be tough to beat.

In addition, there’s evidence colleges don’t understand the opportunity. For example, a recent article in Inside Higher Education reported that colleges are “lining up” to accept bitcoin, but one college is quoted as saying it “immediately liquidate the cryptocurrency gift, which mitigates any risk involved with this type of donation.”

I wonder if they have seen this website, which compares stupid stuff you bought at a date in the past and what it would be worth in bitcoin today. For example, if you bought bitcoin in 2011 instead of a $249 Nintendo 3DS, your bitcoin would be worth $13,458,000 today.

I had that moment in 2017 when I offered to donate $500 in bitcoin to a college (which will go unnamed). The only stipulation was for them to HODL, to avoid their stupid moment. Well, thankfully, they didn’t take me up on the offer, and it’s worth about $4,000 today.

So, where is the Michael Saylor of higher education? Personally, I am hoping he or she is at a small, private college in a community somewhere in the Rust Belt or Appalachia, the underdog, like most early bitcoiners. It would be me – but I’m tied up at the moment moving my office to the basement.

Updated: 10-6-2021

Universities Are Flunking Blockchain Tech

There aren’t many serious players in the decentralized education marketplace.

As higher education shifted online through the global pandemic, issues of trust, identity and fraud crippled learning and research. Blockchain technology has emerged as a potential solution to these long-standing problems and might even offer opportunities for novel and emerging use cases.

However, despite being an important driver for the blockchain industry, universities have failed to realize the potential of blockchain technology for their own use.

To better understand how blockchain and innovative EdTech companies might disrupt this trillion dollar industry, through 2021, I led a team of students who surveyed the market, looked at potential use cases and separated reality from hyperbole. In our comprehensive report, we discuss many compelling use cases but found few serious players.

With the exception of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), top tier universities remain conservative, neither embracing the educational and research opportunities brought about by blockchain nor utilizing the technology to better serve their student, faculty and social stakeholders.

Current Challenges

Higher education is complex with well-established incumbents and important norms and traditions. While these norms and traditions are certainly barriers to innovation, companies hoping to disrupt the industry will fail if they do not pay heed to this reality.

In our report, we identified four areas for potential innovation to solve real challenges: research and innovation, certification and validation, student identity, and integrated and online learning environments. While each has its complexities (which we discuss in our report), we believe blockchain technology is now mature enough to offer real solutions.

Perhaps the most vexing challenge facing universities is dataset provenance. Datasets are often produced by university researchers and shared with commercial and government stakeholders.

These datasets may contain the results of empirical research or training data for machine learning models. Due to the importance of these datasets, it is critical that their users know where they came from and whether they have been tampered with.

A robust software supply chain tracks datasets across their lifecycle, from creation to use, to modification and end of life. Like traditional supply chains (a use case already disrupted by blockchain technology), software supply chains need assurances of confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Moreover, since some datasets contain sensitive information, access needs to be carefully managed. For example, a recent Microsoft report detailed the volume and severity of attacks to machine-learning (ML) datasets. The authors reported that “model poisoning is the top perceived threat against ML for business decision makers.”

Since blockchains excel at tracking digital assets without the need for a trusted third party, they are obvious solutions for critical software infrastructures. We believe universities play a critical role in ensuring datasets are kept secure.

The next most important challenge brought about by the global pandemic and now facing higher education is diploma fraud (although student identity, as the lynchpin to widespread online cheating, is a close third). When university campuses shut their gates during the pandemic, many of the traditional paper-based processes were exposed as inefficient and insecure.

Diplomas and transcripts are still today issued as paper copies, and when pressed to offer digital copies universities issue insecure versions that are easily fabricated or tampered with. By securely recording unique “fingerprints” (cryptographic hashes) of digital assets and solving the challenges of managing a decentralized public key infrastructure, blockchain technologies offer a simple, turnkey solution for issuing and managing university transcripts and diplomas, while potentially lowering administration costs.

Disruptive Developments

Going beyond the current state of the art, we recommend four disruptive potential use cases for blockchain in higher education: decentralized education marketplaces, educational incentivization, smart-contract test marking and reputation management.

The most enticing of these opportunities is decentralized educational marketplaces. Due to the low-friction, low trust environment made possible by blockchain, federated or multi-institutional degrees might become possible, allowing students to choose best-of educational offerings (bottom-up) rather than prescribed (top-down) curricula. A decentralized educational marketplace might also enable “subscription” models for lifelong learning.

A Green Field

Despite these turnkey opportunities and future developments, the commercial landscape of blockchain in EdTech is a green field. We found very few serious blockchain providers in the industry and seemingly little interest from would-be buyers – that is, the higher education providers subject to disruption.

In our analyses, we found that universities have numerous ways to lock out competitors and have been effective at doing so. Market disruptors like massive online open courses (MOOCs) have come and gone, while low-cost and online universities have existed for decades. But none of those options have supplanted the perceived value of a top-flight, brick-and-mortar education.

These are formidable challenges for the nascent blockchain EdTech space, but we see many opportunities for blockchain including greater access to investors, novel education and research practices and emerging uses like citizen science and other peer-to-peer models for education.

Updated: 10-8-2021

Learning by Doing: A Different Kind of Graduate School For Blockchain

It was on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2018 that a young entrepreneur from the People’s Republic of China came up to me and said, “I really liked what you said during your panel.

Would you like to be regional COO of our blockchain company?” It was a strange way of onboarding but bitcoin was at $20,000 and, because I was on sabbatical, I answered with an emphatic “Yes.” We settled on an adviser role for a few months, and so began my mad dash into the “space.”

In fairness, I knew a little bit about disruptive technologies but dove into the rabbit hole, reading white papers, listening to podcasts, practicing questions like, “What’s your transactions per second?” and using expressions like, “We can build a dapp for that.” Frankly, I learned that business development people, marketing gurus and alignment specialists who did not have engineering backgrounds knew about as much as I did.

It was classic “learning by doing,” a methodology I had pioneered for two decades building trial advocacy and other skills training programs for the legal reform movement that had swept Latin America as it returned to democratic governance.

Leapfrog technologies like case management software, ballistics and DNA testing were revolutionary as that continent transitioned from the Inquisitorial model to the adversarial model in criminal procedure. But nothing prepared me for the baptism by fire that I encountered in the blockchain sector.

Having trained as a lawyer was of great assistance, particularly because so many blockchain enthusiasts and entrepreneurs may have been simultaneously breaking securities law, immigration law, corporate law, tax law and labor law. It was like one big issue-spotting examination. But the technical issues were far beyond my comfort zone.

For that I relied on my new mentor, my boss from China who was literally half my age. Working with him was part Master’s degree in disruptive industries, part cultural competencies crash course, and part internship in Chinese regulation. He taught me about POW, POS, PBFT and a host of other acronyms that transcended continents, economic models and generation gaps.

I taught him how to tie a Windsor knot for his formal look, something we needed to do even if we were in this sector. The bankers, lawyers, accountants and foundation presidents we met still liked formality.

For years, the dynamics behind the supply chain involving China could have meant that some child laborer was involved in the manufacturing process.

This story is the opposite. Up until two weeks ago when China finally banned all things crypto – although the truth is that the authorities there had long banned the industry – the kids from China have not just been making our consumer goods, but creating the foundations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And they were readying their generation to lead it.

The work hours were almost the same as the Shenzhen sweatshops of old – grueling days, but Eric, then 27 years old, did not toil away for a few dollars a day; as the company’s CTO, he was leading software developing with teams around the globe. Suddenly, he was thrust into the role of CEO and our timetables got even shorter. We would pitch our team as networking from Beijing, Boston and Bangalore although the Indian team was really working out of Jaipur. Alliteration sells.

We scoured the globe for engineering teams in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Vietnam, to no avail. Technology was fast eclipsing finance, giving an advantage of technology-centric leadership rather than the money folks calling the shots.

At the Cardinal Pitch Club at Stanford University’s Faculty Club in March 2018, everyone confirmed that funding was not an issue confronting emerging technology startups – getting the right technologists was. It was no surprise then that signing bonuses were de rigueur and competition among projects intense. So was burnout.

These new kids on the blockchain were the rock stars of their generation. They were in their late 20s and early 30s, smart, beautiful and rich – well, much of it in crypto. They did not think twice about going to an airport and getting on a plane to Shanghai, Singapore, New York or Davos without advanced airline reservations.

They had not yet arrived at the stage of throwing TV sets out of hotel windows, but I did encourage it a few times. Even electrical engineers need to let loose every now and then. These kids did not have a tattoo among them. There was no time for such needless diversions. They had some coding to do.

For the rest of us, it was about helping organize and regularize their affairs – protecting the company’s intellectual property (even if much of it was open source), building culturally sensitive marketing plans that span the hemispheres and growing investor relations teams.

The promise of going to the mainnet (an independent blockchain running its own network with its own technology and protocol), getting listed on an exchange or two and finding test cases to tout were sometimes not enough.

In 2018, with every fraudster and their mother attempting an initial coin offering, many Silicon Valley law firms would not return calls from crypto startups, all of which were seen a potential problematic clients, even if they paid retainers on time.

As the designated adult on the team (principally signaled by being a graying white guy with a salt and pepper beard), I could get us meetings, particularly because some of my former students were now partners at reputable law firms and others principals at venture capital firms and accelerator funds.

None of the folks with whom I worked are at the company now. There has been turbulent turnover, but the lessons learned have stuck: work hard, innovate and find a real problem that needs solving. None of that involved going to university or graduate school (except for the engineers). For those who do go, they are delaying the inevitable – doing it on the fly, hopefully with some ethics and professionalism. It is rarely like the simulations or case studies in the textbooks we use in class.

When folks ask me how to learn about the space and get one’s chops, I always tell them to find a mentor, especially one who is younger and from a land far, far away. I learned about hybrid consensus protocols and in exchange these kids learned how to fill out expense reports, engage with legacy technology leaders, encourage regulatory clarity and earn airline reward miles.

What I came to understand about these young Chinese technology entrepreneurs is that they are huge fans of U.S. popular culture. When I suggested we title an event we were coordinating “This Ain’t Your Mama’s Blockchain,” a sister company leader answered me on WeChat with a simple “Dope.”

 

Updated: 10-15-2021

Citi Loses Top Trading Executive Zhang To Crypto World

Citigroup Inc.’s Matt Zhang is leaving the bank for the world of cryptocurrencies, according to people familiar with the matter.

Zhang will start a fund that trades digital assets and makes venture investments in crypto companies, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing non-public information. Zhang is seeking to raise more than $1 billion for the fund, the person said.

A 14-year veteran of Citigroup, Zhang created the firm’s spread products investment technologies team, or Sprint, which makes bets on financial-technology companies as a way to get a first look at innovations that could reshape debt markets. The venture has focused on technologies related to trading infrastructure, data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Zhang was most recently co-head of Citigroup’s structured products trading and solutions division. With his departure, Chetan Vohra will become sole head of that unit and will also lead the Sprint business, one of the people said.

A Citigroup spokesman declined to comment on Zhang’s departure.

Wild cryptocurrency markets are luring many longtime banking executives away from Wall Street, where company executives have been taking a wait-and-see approach even as their clients increasingly clamor for access to the asset class.

“We’re fairly cautious around crypto as a bank,” Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser said at a conference this week. “We proceed with great caution on that one as to where the value is and isn’t.”

Zhang is at least the second top Citigroup executive to depart for the digital-assets industry in recent months. Christopher Perkins, the former co-head of Citigroup’s futures, clearing and foreign-exchange prime brokerage businesses, was hired in August as a managing partner and president by CoinFund, a blockchain-focused investment firm.

Updated: 10-28-2021

LinkedIn Reports Crypto And Blockchain Job Listings Have Surged 615% Since August 2020

The team said that financial services firms were expected to hire more than three times as many staff with experience in digital assets than in 2015.

Online employment-oriented platform LinkedIn has reported demand for employees with experience in crypto or blockchain is on the rise across many companies.

According to a Wednesday report from LinkedIn editor Devin Banerjee, data from the platform’s Economic Graph team shows job postings in the United States that included terms like “blockchain” or “crypto” grew 615% compared to those in August 2020.

The data shows that while many jobs with companies already focused on crypto and blockchain contributed to this rise, traditional financial institution J.P. Morgan was among the top employers for roles in the digital asset space.

The LinkedIn team added that financial services firms were expected to hire more than three times as many staff with experience in digital assets than in 2015. J.P. Morgan’s job postings as of July included positions focusing on its global blockchain development efforts — blockchain-focused software developers, engineers, marketers and auditors. The company posted more than 30 openings for its operations in the U.S. in a single week.

“The opportunities in digital assets are plentiful,” said Roman Regelman of the Bank of New York Mellon. “We can now attract talent in a very different way.”

Other major companies not directly involved in crypto or finance have also posted jobs related to crypto space. In February, major online retailer Amazon said it was seeking a software development manager in Mexico to help launch “a new payment product.” In May, Apple said it preferred someone with experience in “alternative payment providers” — including cryptocurrency — for a business development manager position.

Updated: 10-28-2021

UPenn’s Wharton Taps Coinbase To Accept Crypto For Online Blockchain Course

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

Wharton said it will be the first Ivy League institution or U.S. business school to accept cryptocurrency from program participants.

A new online executive education program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will accept payment in various cryptocurrencies via Coinbase, including bitcoin, ether and USDC, the school said Thursday.

The Ivy League business school is launching the six-week “Economics of Blockchain and Digital Assets” course for “business and technology professionals seeking to learn about blockchain and digital assets through its value-driving principle: economics,” according to a statement.

The Philadelphia-based Wharton said it will be the first Ivy League institution or U.S. business school to accept cryptocurrency from program participants.

“We designed this program for business professionals and executives from a range of backgrounds, including traditional finance, management and tech,” said the program’s academic director, Wharton professor and blockchain author Kevin Werbach.

Wharton will partner with blockchain consulting firm Prysm Group to offer the certificate program.

Updated: 11-1-2021

Amazon Job Posting Hints Company’s Web Services Are Preparing To Adopt Crypto

The prospective employee would encourage those in senior positions at major companies to consider adopting cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies, stablecoins, security-backed tokens, asset-backed tokens and nonfungible tokens.

Major online retailer Amazon’s IT service management company may be considering driving adoption in the digital asset space among its customers.

According to a Saturday job posting, Amazon Web Services’ New York office is hiring a Financial Services Specialist who “understands the overall cryptocurrency and digital asset ecosystem,” with experience in blockchain and distributed ledger technology.

The company said the position would work with regulators, financial institutions and capital market operators to explore how they might benefit from digital asset adoption.

The prospective employee would encourage those in senior positions at major global financial institutions to “transform the way they transact digital assets,” including cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies, stablecoins, security-backed tokens, asset-backed tokens and nonfungible tokens. In addition, they must have at least seven years of experience in financial services business development “with exposure to distributed ledger or blockchain technologies.”

Amazon has previously posted job opportunities requiring experience in the digital asset space. In February, the online retailer said it was seeking a software development manager in Mexico to help launch “a new payment product” aimed at allowing residents to buy cryptocurrencies with cash so they could spend digital currency while shopping on Amazon.

An Amazon spokesperson has denied the company would be supporting cryptocurrency payments including Bitcoin (BTC) on its platform in a July report. However, they said the retailer was “focused on exploring” the possibility of adopting digital assets.

Wall Street Is Offering Big Pay Increases To Amass A Crypto Army

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

Wall Street leaders turned up their noses when Bitcoin exploded onto the scene more than a decade ago. Now they’re paying sweet premiums to crypto recruits, amassing an army of enthusiasts within the traditionally staid realm.

Some of the biggest banks and financial firms have added about 1,000 crypto-related roles since 2018, according to Revelio Labs, which collected the data by scraping LinkedIn. Among those hiring the most are JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which shored up their ranks as demand for the fast-developing virtual currencies ballooned.

The expansion of Wall Street’s legions traces an uncomfortable and at times testy relationship with the cryptocurrency. Banks had largely stayed away as Bitcoin prices rocketed to new heights and endured frequent crashes.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called it “worthless” in October after deeming it a fraud in 2017. But behind the scenes, growing global acceptance and client interest have eroded their resistance, leading firms to add research teams and trading desks — and, according to recruiters, offering compensation bumps of as much as 50% for comparable roles to lure talent.

“The banks can’t run the risk that their clients go to another bank to do these services, so they need to build up,” said Alan Johnson, managing director of Wall Street compensation consultancy Johnson Associates. “This is a big asset, a big opportunity, and they need people and need them in a hurry. They’re willing to pay a lot.”

Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley were also among those adding staff, according to Revelio Labs. Most of the firms declined to comment on the data or provide hiring figures, or didn’t respond to requests for comment. Citigroup said in a statement that clients are increasingly interested in crypto and that it’s monitoring development thoughtfully in light of factors like regulation.

But there are signs of the effort elsewhere. Employees who added a new crypto-related position to their LinkedIn profiles this year through September has already surpassed last year’s tally, separate LinkedIn data show. The total has tripled since 2015, according to the data, which surveyed 12 financial firms.

And, as financial firms staff up, they have to compete with technology and crypto firms doing likewise — competition intensified by a scarcity of talent with both types of experience, recruiters said. That means a crypto job can be lucrative, with a related role at a bank commanding a 20% to 30% premium in total compensation over a comparable position at the same institution, according to Johnson.

For more senior roles like research or trading heads, that could rise to 50%, he said. Crypto experts across financial firms see average salary increases of about 9% in their new roles versus previous ones, according to Revelio Labs, which is a workforce intelligence company.

Still, there are reasons for caution about working with the assets. Crypto firms face the prospect of a broad crackdown from federal regulators, while China, which already has rules barring banks from offering crypto-related services, banned crypto transactions in September. Amid the crackdown, some Bitcoin miners shifted operations out of the country.

Bank of America, for one, is looking to add to its new crypto research team over time, according to Alkesh Shah, who runs it. The group was set up in July following calls from clients seeking to understand how they can invest in the assets, Shah said in an interview.

“The industry and the technology became too big to ignore,” he said. “There is going to be significant value creation across this ecosystem and we want to make sure clients understand how the value creation occurs.”

The bank’s move signals traditional finance’s new openness to Bitcoin, as its value soared over the past year to a record in October. JPMorgan’s Dimon, who later said he regretted his fraud comments, said in October that he’d follow his clients, whatever his opinion. Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman, who reportedly once called Bitcoin “totally surreal,” said recently it’s not a fad.

Gorman’s bank appointed Sheena Shah to lead a new crypto research team in September, while JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have begun offering crypto-futures trading. Mastercard Inc. just struck a deal making it easier for banks to offer cryptocurrency rewards on their credit and debt cards.

“We’re experiencing the golden days of Wall Street in crypto,” said Michael Bucella, general partner at crypto investment firm BlockTower Capital. “We are in the early days of capital markets 2.0.”

Headhunter Bombardment

The staff hunt appears to be gaining momentum at both banks and crypto companies.

“Even within the past week or two, we have been bombarded with headhunters who are looking for people to come and be crypto traders in everything from hedge funds all the way to larger banks,” Justin Schmidt, head of strategy at crypto-trading engineering startup Talos, who joined from Goldman Sachs, said last month.

Working at a crypto firm may offer lifestyle improvements not traditionally seen on Wall Street, as well as the chance to own a stake in something, said Elsie Brown-Russell, who was the first hire on the product and technology team at crypto firm Grayscale Investments. Whatever the competition, Wall Street is beefing up.

Scott Wilk, who worked in crypto before landing at venture capital firm Imaginary, pointed to “all these big banks that wanted nothing to do with crypto.” But, he said, “meanwhile, you find out they were kind of secretly always doing their research in the background, knowing that there would be a time when it would be okay to say that you’re in crypto.”

 

Updated: 11-2-2021

Nike Trademark Applications And Job Postings Hint At Joining The Metaverse

Unlike reported issues with the company’s physical shoe supply, virtual sneakers may not be limited by real world problems stemming from the pandemic.

Sports footwear and apparel manufacturer Nike is exploring the design of virtual materials featuring its iconic logo and slogan.

According to records submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday, Nike has filed applications for its namesake, swoosh logo and “just do it” slogan to be used in virtual goods for its entertainment services, retail stores and “for use online and in online virtual worlds.” The filings, along with two recent job postings for virtual material designers, suggest the company is laying the groundwork for Nike-branded products in the metaverse.

Nike said the prospective employees would “play a key role in redefining our digital world, ushering us into the metaverse.” They would join a team of virtual material designers in the company’s Digital Product Creation group to create virtual footwear and other products.

The apparel company seems to have launched its foray into the metaverse in advance of Facebook’s rebranding announcement on Thursday. The social media giant said it would create a virtual environment connecting online social experiences to the physical world.

Though Nike is seemingly advancing its metaverse plans at the same time as Facebook, it has previously delved into nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, and other crypto-related ventures. In 2019, the company patented a system for tokenizing its CryptoKicks shoes on the Ethereum blockchain.

However, the company already has some competition in the metaverse. Sneaker brand RTFKT Studios has released both virtual and physical footwear and obtained the backing of Andreessen Horowitz, Galaxy Digital, and others in an $8-million fundraising round in May.

While Nike’s virtual offerings may not be affected by the global supply chain issues, the company has reported issues with delivering on its physical products, including a dearth of shipping containers, staffing problems, and other pandemic-related restrictions affecting workflow.

Indonesia and Vietnam are responsible for the majority of Nike’s physical shoe production, but the virtual offerings may be created entirely at its Oregon headquarters.

Top US Banks Offer Big Incentives To Lure Crypto Talent

LinkedIn reports that site-wide job listings relating to crypto are up more than 600% since August last year.

Top United States-based banks and financial institutions have filled more than 1,000 positions for crypto experts in the past three years.

According to a Monday report from Bloomberg, financial institutions are offering significant bonuses to attract crypto talent, with human resource consultant Johnson Associates estimating that crypto positions pay salaries that are between 20% and 30% higher than comparable positions unrelated to digital currency.

The firm added that many senior crypto roles benefit an up-to-50% bump in salary over comparable positions, with managing director Alan Johnson concluding:

“The banks can’t run the risk that their clients go to another bank to do these services, so they need to build up.”

Research firm Revelio Labs analyzed 287 crypto-related hirings from Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Fidelity and JPMorgan Chase — the four largest employers of digital asset talent on the professional social networking site LinkedIn. Revelio concluded that crypto specialists enjoy a 9% pay rise over their banking co-workers on average.

In October, LinkedIn reported that site-wide job listings for positions relating to crypto and blockchain have jumped 615% since August 2020.

Bank of America established a dedicated crypto research team in July, with the division’s Alkesh Shah stating, “The industry and the technology became too big to ignore.”

Morgan Stanley also launched a cryptocurrency research team in September, further signaling that top U.S. banks are seeking to attract crypto talent.

 

Updated: 11-4-2021

Survey Finds Lower-Paid Workers Are Quitting Jobs Thanks To Crypto Profits

Almost two-thirds of respondents who quit their jobs after making life-changing gains from crypto had a total income of less than $50,000.

Data suggests that some low-paid members of the workforce are quitting their jobs after making life-changing crypto gains.

Analytics firm Civic Science posted survey results (weighted according to United States census data) on Monday, which shows that 4% of 6,741 respondents aged 18 and over had quit their jobs in the past year due to “financial freedom” earned by investing in crypto assets.

Civic then cross-referenced the 4% figure with data from 1,201 respondents based on their annual income who had quit their jobs due to crypto gains.

Almost two-thirds of those who had quit their jobs due to “mad gainz” earned under $50,000 per year — 27% of those earning less than $25,000, while 37% had a total income of between $25,000 and $50,000. Meanwhile, 15% of those tossing in jobs thanks to crypto had an income between $50,000 and $75,000, 13% between $75,000 and $150,000, and 8% with $150,000 or more.

Civics’ findings may need a pinch of salt, given that it cross-referenced the data from different periods of time and a varied number of respondents. It is also unclear what constitutes “financial freedom” in this context, as Civic provides no explanation or data for what level of crypto gains the respondents made.

“This data implies that crypto investments may have provided life-changing levels of income for some, while the wealthier owners of crypto use it more as another form of asset diversification rather than source of income,” Civic Science wrote.

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

Billionaire investor and crypto proponent Mark Cuban tweeted a link to the survey saying that:

 

“Wow 4% of people in the USA have quit their jobs because of crypto gains, and the vast majority made under 50k. Now we know why so many people quit low-paying jobs.”

Cuban was apparently referencing “The Great Resignation” phenomenon, which refers to a significant labor shortage in the U.S. due to a cultural shift of people quitting their jobs in response to the global pandemic, poor wages and unfavorable working conditions.

Another survey result with 17,699 responses between June 17 and Oct. 27, 2021, found that the main reason 28% of respondents reinvested in crypto was as a long-term growth investment.

A further 23% were after a short-term investment, while just 16% were seeking to use crypto as a payment method for “easy, fast and safe transactions,” suggesting that crypto users favor speculation over using the assets for transactions.

“In other words, over half of the population (51%) views crypto to act, more or less, as a traditional stock,” Civic wrote.

The poll also found that 11% of respondents were aiming to hedge against the “adverse economy,” 12% were seeking “independence from government” and 11% answered with “other.”

Crypto Jobs Span U.S. As Hubs Spring Up From Miami To Denver

The crypto job market in the U.S. is mirroring the decentralized ethos of the industry itself — it’s everywhere.

New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles have the largest shares of crypto hires this year, followed by the Miami and Chicago metropolitan areas, according to a new ranking based on LinkedIn data. But the remaining 53% of crypto jobs in the study were dispersed elsewhere in relatively small chunks, the data show.

Widespread Crypto Gigs

New York, San Francisco have largest shares of crypto specialist jobs.

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

The study, provided by LinkedIn at Bloomberg’s request, shows that the industry hasn’t settled on a single hub like finance in New York, tech in San Francisco and movies in Hollywood.

It’s the result of a culture where many crypto entrepreneurs will often hold themselves out as renegades who reject traditional boundaries. At the same time, the global pandemic has shown white-collar work can be done from anywhere.

“Crypto companies are an extreme version of tech, where the ethos of their work is about being decentralized,” said Seattle-based Diogo Monica, co-founder of crypto technology services company Anchorage Digital, which is hiring for remote jobs around the world. “This means cities and states with lower taxes, great infrastructure, and quick access to an international airport will benefit from fully remote work.”

A crypto hire is any LinkedIn member who started a new job with titles including the keywords “crypto,” “blockchain,” “Bitcoin,” “Ethereum,” or “Solidity” — the latter being a smart contract programming language used for blockchain technology.

The data is meant to serve as a rough proxy for the broader crypto job market, but by design, it will only capture crypto specialists, and not, for instance, a human resources worker for a crypto company. The study covers the first nine months of the year.

Adjusting for population, crypto is having a clear impact on mid-sized metropolitan areas. The amount of total jobs pale in comparison to larger cities, but per capita the job creation is sizable. Two or more people were hired for crypto jobs this year for every 100,000 LinkedIn members in Austin, Texas; Denver; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Salt Lake City.

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

Hubs such as New York and San Francisco still control a significant share of the jobs, as they have with other areas of financial technology. But crypto celebrities and thought leaders have shown they have the sway to lure newcomers to nontraditional markets.

Elon Musk, who has whiplashed coins with his crypto musings on Twitter, is moving Tesla Inc. to Austin. Cathie Wood, the famous Bitcoin bull and ETF manager, is moving Ark Investment Management to St. Petersburg, Florida. And crypto booster and investor Anthony Pompliano has put down roots in Miami.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez — who openly daydreams of making the Magic City the “crypto capital of the world” — said different parts of the U.S. will naturally have different competitive advantages. He said crypto mining has the potential to revitalize parts of rural America wherever surplus electricity can be found cheap. Meanwhile, exchanges and the popular crypto convention circuit are flocking to urban centers nationwide.

“The medium to long-term prospects are enormous,” Suarez said. “It’s as transformational as the Industrial Revolution was.”

Certainly, there’s more than a little risk in betting a city’s economic future on crypto or blockchain. The emerging technology still faces an uncertain path fraught with regulatory hurdles. But the potential payoff is proving to be compelling as the number of jobs in crypto is clearly accelerating in most places. Many cities are on pace to surpass crypto hiring from previous years, especially in second-tier markets.

Robert Zagotta, U.S. chief executive officer of cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp, said his company is happy to be in New York, but also praised darkhorse crypto towns like Miami, where Suarez has proposed paying city employees a portion of their paychecks in Bitcoin and allowing residents to pay taxes and fees in the cryptocurrency.

“Forward-thinking cities like that will continue to see rich growth in job creation in this flourishing industry,” he said.

With Crypto Jobs Available, US Universities Are Turning To Blockchain Education (#GotBitcoin)

LinkedIn has approximately as many members in the U.S. as there are workers in the U.S. labor force, making it a useful — if imperfect — dataset in the absence of official Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the sector. The team analyzed over 5,000 hires since January 2019 whose jobs met the criteria, and the most common job titles among them were cryptocurrency trader, blockchain developer, Bitcoin miner, blockchain specialist and blockchain consultant.

Update: 11-5-2021

New Study Reveals Which US Cities Lead Crypto Hires In 2021

LinkedIn data shows that while major cities lead the crypto-related hires, half the jobs in the U.S. are dispersed around the country.

Metropolises have led the crypto-related hires in the United States in 2021, but jobs in the space are well-dispersed around the country, LinkedIn data revealed.

A new study conducted by LinkedIn for Bloomberg shows that there is not a single hub for crypto or blockchain specialists in the United States. Searching through LinkedIn members in the U.S. who listed a new job in the first nine months of the year that matched keywords crypto, blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum or Solidity unveiled that about 53% of crypto jobs are dispersed across the country in small chunks.

As crypto and blockchain stand at the intersection of finance and technology, traditional finance hub New York and tech hub San Francisco unsurprisingly led the pack. Los Angeles ranked in third place, followed by Miami and Chicago.

Diogo Mónica, co-founder of crypto technology services company Anchorage Digital, highlighted that decentralized organizational structures are driving a remote workforce, especially among crypto companies. “This means cities and states with lower taxes, great infrastructure, and quick access to an international airport will benefit from fully remote work,” he added.

When adjusted for population, the crypto industry’s impact on mid-sized metropolitan areas becomes clearer: For every 100,000 LinkedIn members, at least two people were hired for said crypto jobs in Austin, Denver, Raleigh and Salt Lake City.

For example, New York leads the hires with an 18.3% market share, but it hired an average of 2.8 people for every 100,000 LinkedIn members, while in Austin, Texas, three people have been hired for the same scale even though the city has 2% share.

U.S. cities are also trying their best to attract the crypto industry. Newly elected New York City Mayor Eric Adams shared his plans to make the city the center of the cryptocurrency industry. He also followed Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s example by stating that he will take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin (BTC).

 

Updated: 11-11-2021

FTX To Expand Miami Office As Crypto Jobs Gravitate To Florida

FTX US is expanding in Miami, where the cryptocurrencies exchange already owns the naming rights to the Miami Heat basketball arena.

The company is building a permanent space with capacity for 16 to 18 employees in the Brickell financial district, an increase from the four people now in a temporary office nearby, Avinash Dabir, FTX US’s vice president of business development, said in an interview.

Miami, home to renowned beaches and nightlife, is emerging as an early beneficiary of the crypto and blockchain industries’ growth, especially after the pandemic spurred work-from-anywhere rules. FTX, for example, has significant offices in San Francisco, Chicago and now Miami, in addition to an international operations unit that recently moved to the Bahamas.

Dabir said the crypto opportunity in real estate is still in its early stages, and FTX’s role is essentially in cutting out friction in the conversion and payment process. But he envisions a time when property titles could be non-fungible tokens, or NFTs; escrow accounts could be handled through smart contracts; and crypto could help improve the entire real-estate process.

“I can’t think of a better place to do that” than Miami, he said. “It feels like everyone I talk to is in real estate, outside of crypto.”

The Miami office now is primarily focused on business development, partnerships and derivatives, with key people from its recent acquisition, crypto derivatives firm Ledger Holdings Inc., also based there.

Dabir said recent Miami-related partnerships, including one with Property Markets Group, will facilitate local real estate transactions involving cryptocurrency. The partnership is currently helping with payments in crypto on units for PMG’s new E11EVEN Hotel & Residences, Dabir said.

Updated: 11-14-2021

Quant Hedge Fund Two Sigma Hiring Crypto Operations Manager

Someone with a passion for cryptocurrencies needed to help manage the daily operations of an exciting growth initiative for Two Sigma Securities, said a job posting.

Two Sigma, the technology-focused hedge fund based in New York, is looking to hire a Crypto Operations person to help build out the firm’s emergent cryptocurrency trading business, according to a recent job posting.

The open position to Join Two Sigma Securities’ crypto trading business is based in London.

“We are seeking an experienced, highly organized individual with strong attention to detail and a passion for cryptocurrencies/digital assets to help manage the daily operations of an exciting growth initiative for Two Sigma Securities,” according to the job posting.

“You will be a critical member to help drive the buildout and scaling of Two Sigma Securities’ crypto trading business by performing vital middle office and post trade support functions and helping create a best-in-class platform to manage operational risk,” the listing said.

Two Sigma, which employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to trade stocks, is a backer of crypto projects via its VC arm, Two Sigma Ventures. Last month, Two Sigma Securities joined the Pyth Network, a data oracle system for decentralized finance linked to the Solana blockchain.

The right candidate will be responsible for managing “all aspects of cryptocurrency trade capture, reporting, settlement and reconciliations,” as well as seeing to “Daily and month end reconciliation of trades, positions, cash and P&L.”

Two Sigma did not return requests for comment by press time.

Updated: 11-22-2021

MoonPay, A Paypal For Crypto, On Hiring Spree With $555 Million

Crypto-payments company MoonPay plans to hire around 200 people and make acquisitions to accelerate growth after raising $555 million in a funding round with Tiger Global Management and Coatue Management.

Speaking in an interview, MoonPay Chief Executive Officer Ivan Soto-Wright said the company will add jobs around the world, including in Miami, where he is based. He said the company will hire full-stack engineers as well as workers for compliance, customer support and business development, more than doubling the current headcount of about 130.

“Part of why we’re raising this round is to be able to attract the best talent from anywhere in the world,” Soto-Wright said in a Zoom interview. “And we want to expand our coverage. We want to be in more countries. We want to turn on more payment methods.”

MoonPay’s fundraising is the latest sign of the mounting interest among big-name investors in crypto-focused financial technology.

Despite the volatility of coin prices from one day to the next, many venture capitalists are betting that crypto itself is becoming an unstoppable juggernaut and that investments in platforms can be a way of betting on the ecosystem without picking winners among the thousands of digital assets.

For its part, MoonPay describes itself as a sort of PayPal for the crypto economy — a business-to-business-to-consumer passport that enables more seamless transactions between individuals and crypto firms, such as purveyors on non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

It’s designed to allow users to buy and sell digital assets and NFTs via credit and debit cards; Apple, Google or Samsung Pay; or their bank accounts.

“It’s much more about integrating the many players in the ecosystem and opening it up to the user,” said Ophelia Brown, a managing partner a Blossom Capital, which participated in the fundraising.

The MoonPay founder said the fundraising valued the company at $3.4 billion, including the raised funds, a figure that was previously reported by The Information. Other investors include NEA, Paradigm and Thrive Capital.

The company says its “know-your-customer” and fraud prevention efforts, among other things, help businesses access more consumers without having to build complex infrastructure and compliance protocols from scratch.

Soto-Wright said Miami would be a major hub for the company — a win for a region that, despite growth, has so far landed few major technology startups. Some of the few examples include augmented reality company Magic Leap Inc. and pet products e-commerce company Chewy Inc.

“We think we can be a Miami first company,” he said. “There haven’t really been really powerful technology companies based here. So we see we have an opportunity to represent the tech scene here.”

Citi Plans To Hire 100 Staffers For Beefed-Up Crypto Division

The bank has also named Puneet Singhvi as head of digital assets for its institutional clients group starting Dec. 1.

Global banking powerhouse Citi is hiring 100 people to beef up its blockchain and digital assets division, according to a person familiar with the bank’s plans.

Citi has also made Puneet Singhvi head of digital assets for the institutional clients group (ICG) at Citi as of Dec. 1, according to a company memo shared with CoinDesk. Singhvi was most recently head of blockchain and digital assets for Citi’s Global Markets team.

Singhvi will report to Emily Turner, head of business development for the Institutional Clients Group at Citi. Shobhit Maini and Vasant Viswanathan will be co-heads of blockchain and digital assets for Global Markets.

“We are focused on assessing the needs of our clients in the digital asset space,” said Citi in an emailed statement. “Prior to offering any products and services, we are studying these markets, as well as the evolving regulatory landscape and associated risks in order to meet our own regulatory frameworks and supervisory expectations.”

The Citi memo shared with CoinDesk said that in addition to the senior roles announced Monday, the company intends to “hire additional talent over the next several months, and will be posting roles across ICG businesses, functions, and the ICG Business Development team.”

Updated: 11-23-2021

Citi Group Appoints Head Of Digital Assets In Crypto Hiring Spree

The new head of digital assets at Citi’s institutional branch will focus on pursuing connections and investments with clients, startups and regulators.

American multinational investment bank Citi announced it had appointed Puneet Singhvi to lead the digital assets division of its Institutional Clients Group (ICG) starting on Dec. 1.

In addition to appointing Singhvi on Monday, Citi is hiring 100 additional personnel tfor its digital assets division. The move indicates a concerted effort to beef up the financial group’s understanding of digital assets. Singhvi was previously the head of blockchain and digital assets in Citi’s trading business.

Citi Group is the world’s largest issuer of credit cards, and its ICG serves corporations, financial institutions and governments around the world.

An emailed statement from Emily Turner, head of business development at the ICG, hinted that the bank is exploring its options in providing digital assets services to its clients.

“Prior to offering any products and services, we are studying these markets, as well as the evolving regulatory landscape and associated risks in order to meet our own regulatory frameworks and supervisory expectations.”

Turner continued by saying, “We believe in the potential of blockchain and digital assets including the benefits of efficiency, instant processing, fractionalization, programmability and transparency.”

Citi is not the only major U.S. bank hiring crypto talent. The Bank of America sought a specialist on Ripple (XRP) in October. Additionally, Yahoo News reported on Nov. 6 that financial institutions have increased crypto hires by 40% in the first half of 2021, and they are attracting this new tech talent by increasing pay packages by as much as 50%.

In addition to Citi, other major banks seeking crypto talent include J.P. Morgan Chase, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Capital One, UBS, Credit Suisse and Barclays.

Citi Group does not currently offer any dedicated digital asset services for its clients, although rumors circulated in late August that it was considering offering Bitcoin futures trading for institutional investors.

Some of Citi’s competitors among the top banks in the United States already offer various services related to digital assets. J.P. Morgan provides access to six different crypto funds while the Bank of America currently offers Bitcoin futures trading for certain clients and operates a crypto research team.

Updated: 11-24-2021

Why Aren’t More Law Schools Teaching Blockchain, DeFi And NFTs?

To counsel clients involved in the DeFi space, wouldn’t you want a lawyer with the technological literacy to understand blockchain and the legal issues surrounding it?

Blockchain technology is transformative for both our financial system and commercial enterprises, as well as for improving the human condition.

More and more unbanked citizens both abroad and here in the United States now can have the capability to transfer and receive funds from loved ones with speed, economic efficiency and anonymity, where necessary, from oppressive regimes and governments and unstable economies.

Traditional financial systems that have long not been available in underserved communities in various parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America must now recognize the power and efficiency of blockchain.

In less than two years, decentralized finance, or DeFi, has sprung up. These communities can borrow and exchange funds in a matter of minutes for their businesses or personal expenses. DeFi has grown from an ecosystem of less than $1 billion in early 2020 to one with over $250 billion in locked value today.

Interest in nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, has equally exploded. These collectibles and other forms of NFTs captured more than $10 billion in sales volume in quarter three, up from $1.2 billion six months prior.

Importantly, these blockchain use cases have legal and regulatory considerations. In particular, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has made clear that most forms of tokens should be considered “securities” and thus subject to both the jurisdiction of the SEC and the regulatory frameworks of U.S. federal securities laws.

In a recent article in The International Journal of Blockchain Law, the SEC’s newest commissioner, Caroline Crenshaw, notes:

“Many DeFi offerings and products closely resemble products and functions in the traditional financial marketplace. […] Market participants who raise capital from investors, or provide regulated services or functions to investors, generally take on legal obligations.”

In other words, certain aspects of DeFi likely involve the jurisdiction of multiple federal authorities, including the Department of Justice, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Internal Revenue Service, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and SEC.

In the NFT space, there is no question that various intellectual property rights are implicated, such as copyright and trademark laws, as well as possible securities laws.

The Need For Tech-Educated Lawyers

It is clear there is a growing need for lawyers here and abroad to understand these possible legal issues and jurisdictions. It is, or should be, obvious that the best lawyers are those who can counsel their clients from a sophisticated understanding of the area of business in which their clients operate.

To counsel clients involved in the DeFi space, wouldn’t you want a lawyer with the technological literacy to understand blockchain and the legal issues surrounding it? And perhaps one with education or experience in finance or accounting, rather than one who studied philosophy or chemistry in college?

As the many uses of NFTs explode, shouldn’t your lawyer have a good handle on the IP laws and artistic rights associated with the proposed NFT?

I believe lawyers should, and that is part of the reason I am now teaching both blockchain law and fintech law at Florida International University College of Law in Miami after practicing law at law firms and the SEC for 40 years.

As businesses start up or grow into the use of digital assets, they will need guidance on the “rules of the road,” as I believe most businesspeople want to do the right thing and follow established laws.

For this, they should be able to turn to the next generation of lawyers — those currently in law school — for the answers, or at least for the correct guidance.

Yet shockingly, only around two dozen or so of the over 200 law schools here in America teach a class dedicated solely to blockchain or solely to financial technology, last time I checked. That is only 10% of all law schools! That has to change, and rapidly.

Earlier this year, I wrote a column about concerns I and others have with China’s efforts to have the digital yuan replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, stating that the U.S. has to more quickly embrace the idea of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and its development. The same is true with our new crop of lawyers.

We must be educating them in new technologies and the use cases of blockchain, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and augmented and virtual reality, among others. This will vitally assist them in better representing clients. The last great technology was the internet, which the U.S. dominated in its development — but that was 25 to 30 years ago.

U.S. leadership and dominance are not present with blockchain technology. Lawyers can assist in advancing this goal, with a good understanding of both the technology and laws affecting it, helping to shape or reshape the laws that do and should apply to it.

The Intersection Of Technology And U.S. Laws

Let’s look briefly at two legal cases demonstrating how NFT activities have found their way into the crosshairs of U.S. laws. In a lawsuit filed on Nov. 16 in federal court in Los Angeles, Miramax sued director Quentin Tarantino, who had been a collaborator on various movies, for breach of contract, copyright and trademark infringement, and unfair competition.

Tarantino had allegedly been preparing to sell seven previously unpublished, unused scenes from his Pulp Fiction movie script in December. Miramax claims this violates its rights to the movie in various operative agreements, and Tarantino apparently believes these proposed NFTs are his to sell under the “reserved rights” provisions of his contracts with Miramax.

A cease-and-desist letter from Miramax to Tarantino is apparently being ignored by him. It will be interesting to see what happens with this next month.

In a lawsuit filed in May in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Dapper Labs — developer of the Flow blockchain and collaborator with the National Basketball Association on selling NBA Top Shot Moments — was sued in a class-action lawsuit.

The gravamen of the complaint is that the tokens on the Flow blockchain, which powers and brands the NFTs, are “securities.” Also at the center of the lawsuit is the NBA Top Shot “Marketplace” itself, located on its website, where you can purchase and sell these “Moments.”

Thus, it is alleged that the sale and exchange of the tokens involve the sale of unregistered securities in violation of Section 12(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933. Noteworthy is that the legal proceeding was filed in state, not federal, court and that the NBA itself was not named in the action.

This can perhaps be explained in that the NBA was not the “issuer” of the securities and that the plaintiff’s lawyer prefers state court, where a judge may be more inclined to allow the case to proceed and not subject them to sanctions.

These cases are illustrative of my point of needing lawyers who understand these technologies and their legal implications. So, let’s get to training our future lawyers for the future, as the future is now!

 

Updated: 12-13-2021

Recruiters Say Crypto Firms Seeking Leadership In Engineering, Legal And Finance

Talent recruitment experts say that crypto firms are in dire need of the best leadership available to scale their businesses.

The crypto industry has enjoyed astronomical growth over the last couple of years. Now, talent recruitment experts say that crypto firms are in dire need of good leadership to scale their businesses.

Previously seen as a nascent market, crypto is now a fast-maturing industry that attracts a lot of talent, David Richardson, partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, told Cointelegraph.

“It’s all driven by the growth rate of these firms and hiring leaders that can help them continue to scale and continue to keep pace with the growth rate in the business,” he said.

Crypto companies are looking for executives who have scaled businesses successfully. They are ready to onboard such talent without prior knowledge of crypto or digital currency, added Heidrick & Struggles engagement manager Adrianna Huehnergarth. “We’re seeing a lot of need for heads of engineering leaders who have built teams of scale,” she continued.

Experts said the most sought-after skills for the C-suite are engineering, legal, finance, go-to-market and corporate development. Apart from expertise, companies seek low-ego executives who display adaptability, passion and excitement for growth and the mission of the space.

Since the regulatory landscape tends to be different in each country, the significance of regulatory and legal executives make a lot of sense, Huehnergarth said. “Many companies we’ve been working with have had more of a regional focus instead of a more traditional, centralized type of setup.”

For the crypto ecosystem, remote work became a major incentive to attract the top talent, Huehnergarth said, adding that many companies have gotten rid of their headquarters. The long-term incentives and cash compensation are also high enough to retain the talent.

“[Crypto] companies have the cash and have been bidding away very senior talent who only have one or two years of crypto experience with offers that they cannot turn down.”

Some companies are more tech than fin, and some companies are more fin than tech in the overall fintech ecosystem, Richardson pointed out. A lot of that culture is determined by the founding team and how they set it up early. He explained that while most crypto businesses start with a core tech team, they require GMs, sales, finance, legal and compliance talent as they scale up.

As the company grows, a lower degree of technical competence becomes sufficient, he added. When the technical barriers lower, people who have more broad experience in investing in alternatives are able to look at crypto as an excellent avenue to explore.

Updated: 1-12-2022

Crypto Job Postings Are Through The Roof

On LinkedIn, U.S jobs postings with keywords “bitcoin”, “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” were up almost 400% from the previous year as of December.

Job postings in the cryptocurrency world jumped nearly fivefold in 2021, even as job vacancies in the overall U.S. labor market continued to peak.

A recent LinkedIn analysis has found that positions with “bitcoin,” “ethereum,” “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” roles grew 395% in the U.S. from 2020 to 2021.

Some of the most common titles included blockchain developers and engineers, LinkedIn said. And most of the job postings were in software and finance related positions. But crypto-related job postings were also within several sectors like accounting and consulting.

The growth of crypto offers posted even surpassed a 98% increase in listings in the broader tech sector.

Techies at legacy firms like Google (GOOGL) – Alphabet Inc. Class A Report, Amazon (AMZN) – Amazon.com, Inc. Report, Apple (AAPL) – Apple Inc. Report are jumping ship in the hopes to become the next big thing in crypto, The New York Times reported in December.

The spike in cryptocurrency related hiring also comes at a time when investors too have flooded onto the scene.

Investors worldwide poured $30 billion into crypto and blockchain startups in 2021, according to PitchBook data.

Crypto marketplace OpenSea and Chainlink, which supports over $80 billion worth of assets tied up in various smart contracts, are among crypto startups companies leading this new wave of hiring.

Cryptocurrencies across the board witnessed a wide selloff in the past weeks, with prices of some of the most popular tokens including bitcoin, ethereum, XRP, solana, and dogecoin all declining sharply.

Separately, Americans quit their jobs in record numbers ahead of the holidays, with an all-time monthly high of 4.5 million people handing in their resignations in November, according to newly released government data.

Even a modest uptick in hiring didn’t put much of a dent into the near-record high rate of unfilled positions.

Updated: 1-18-2022

Goldman, JPMorgan And Citigroup Try To Lure Talent By Out-spending Crypto Firms On Pay

Wall Street giant’s compensation expenses soared 33% in 2021.

The bill has come due for Wall Street’s deal-making spree, and it is being sent by human resources.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.  said Tuesday it shelled out an additional $4.4 billion in compensation in 2021, sending the bank to its only quarterly profit decline of the year. JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Friday said it had spent an additional $3.6 billion on compensation in 2021, and Citigroup Inc.  spent an additional $2.9 billion, dragging down its fourth-quarter profit as well.

Investment-banking units across the industry have notched blockbuster results in the pandemic, first from nervous companies that wanted to raise debt and then from confident CEOs who wanted to expand their empires. Raucous markets pushed trading revenues skyward. Firms like Goldman have raced to hire enough people to keep up with the flood of deals and are now paying to keep them from jumping ship.

Wall Street tried to keep the lid on pay in 2020 as business boomed but the overall economy languished. Goldman raised compensation by 8% in 2020, even though revenue jumped 22%.

In 2021, Goldman boosted its pay by 33%. Revenue also jumped 33%.

“There is real wage inflation everywhere in the economy,” Goldman CEO David Solomon said on a call with analysts.

Shares fell nearly 7%.

Like JPMorgan and Citigroup, Goldman recorded big profits for the full year. Goldman’s investment bank reported record annual revenue and its trading unit booked its highest annual revenue in 12 years, driving the firm to record annual revenue and profit.

But the compensation expenses weighed on fourth-quarter results. Goldman’s fourth-quarter profit declined 13% to $3.94 billion, or $10.81 per share, ending what had been a streak of big gains. The bank also missed analysts’ forecasts for per-share earnings.

Goldman’s revenue rose 8% to $12.64 billion, beating expectations.

Wall Street’s battle for talent has played out at all levels. Multiple firms raised salaries last year for junior bankers, many of whom found the grunt work of entry-level banking less appealing when they were doing it from home. Goldman, for example, increased base pay for its entry-level employees—first-year analysts—to $110,000, a nearly 30% increase from the previous starting salary of $85,000.

At senior levels, pay is largely in the form of stock awards and can stretch into the millions.

Goldman is also giving its partners an additional one-time stock bonus. The additional grant was first reported by Bloomberg News.

JPMorgan this week is awarding investment bankers bonuses from a pool that is 30% to 40% higher than it was a year ago, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“We will be competitive in pay,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said last week on a call with analysts. “If that squeezes margins a little bit for shareholders, so be it.”

Some firms, like Citigroup, are using their more-flexible work-from-home policies as a recruiting tool. Goldman and JPMorgan were more aggressive last year in calling employees back to the office, though Goldman told employees last week that they could work from home until Feb. 1 because of the Omicron variant.

Mr. Solomon said Tuesday he expects Covid-19 will become endemic and that “as a society we will find a way to live with it.” He said he is optimistic that Omicron’s economic impact will be relatively muted compared with earlier variants.

Mr. Solomon also said that Goldman will be “flexible and dynamic” with protocols, “while also enabling the majority of our people to be back in the office safely.”

Overall, Goldman continued to benefit from ebullient deal making. Investment banking revenue jumped 45% to $3.8 billion, with demand for mergers and acquisitions still brisk. JPMorgan and Citigroup last week also reported big gains in investment-banking fees.

Trading revenue was $3.99 billion, down 7% as pandemic-induced volatility in capital markets subsided. Trading revenue fell 11% at JPMorgan and 17% at Citigroup.

Bond-trading revenue of $1.86 billion was essentially flat from a year earlier, while stock-trading revenue shrank 11%.

While profits are still flowing from Wall Street, Goldman is working to grow its businesses that cater directly to consumers. Revenue from its consumer and wealth management unit, which includes the Marcus consumer bank and the team serving wealthy clients, rose 19% in the fourth quarter. Consumer banking revenue grew 8% as consumers carried higher credit card balances.

The bank’s return on equity, a measure of how profitably it uses shareholders’ money, was 23% in 2021 after a return of 11.1% in 2020. In January 2020, Goldman set a target return of at least 13% by 2023. “The story I’m proud of is our outperformance on a relative basis,” Mr. Solomon said in an interview.


 

Updated: 1-18-2022

Goldman’s Record Expenses Show Ballooning Costs of Talent War

* Firm Follows JPMorgan In Boosting Bankers’ Pay And Benefits
* Shares Slide Most Since 2020 After Firms Outline Surging Costs

In the escalating battle for Wall Street’s best and brightest, banks are paying up and share prices are taking a hit.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is the latest industry giant to report record-high annual expenses fueled by soaring compensation and benefits costs. The bank’s earnings report on Tuesday followed JPMorgan Chase & Co., which surprised the market last week with expenses at an all-time high and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon vowing to pay whatever it takes to win the war for talent.

Wall Street bosses are shoring up their ranks, sweetening payouts and bolstering salaries at every level after the pandemic unleashed a trading and dealmaking boom — adding to pressure driving up wages from soaring inflation and a tight labor market. They’re also fending off threats from expanding fintechs by making investments in new businesses and recruits with technology expertise.

Goldman Sachs is “committed to rewarding top talent” in a competitive labor environment, Chief Financial Officer Denis Coleman said during a call with analysts Tuesday. While the bank doesn’t expect operating expenses to rise materially from here, it will continue to spend on technology and engineering, he said.

The firm, which also reported steeper-than-expected trading revenue declines, said expenses soared 33% to almost $18 billion last year, with compensation and benefits the single biggest driver of the hike.

Without those costs, expenses would have dropped 9%, partly because of lower provisions for litigation and regulatory proceedings, the New York-based company said in a statement.

Shares of Goldman Sachs slumped 8.3% to $349.16 at 1:20 p.m. in New York, paring the gain over the past 12 months to 16%.

JPMorgan also said it spent more in 2021 than it initially forecast because of higher compensation costs. The bank expects this year to be even more expensive, anticipating about $77 billion of non-interest expenses. Some of that is due to the inflationary effects on wages — a trend that helped drive the biggest share-price decline since 2020 on Friday.

Likewise, Wells Fargo & Co. CFO Mike Santomassimo said Friday that his bank was seeing above normal wage inflation as well.

Pay Pressure

Compensation and pay pressures emerged as a hot-button topic throughout last year. Bank bosses were forced to hike salaries for legions of burned-out junior bankers and reach for higher bonus payouts following restraint in 2020 to keep top performers happy.

Goldman is rewarding its partners — roughly 400 executives — with a special one-time award, Bloomberg reported last week. That payout will be in addition to their typical cash and bonus compensation, which ranges from a few million dollars to multiples of that after a year of record earnings.

The bank will likely to boost its bonus pool for investment banking by about 50% while JPMorgan’s increases may extend to 40%, Bloomberg reported last month.

The banks are also increasing headcount in a bid to stave off competition from an explosion in fintech firms. Goldman hiked staffing levels by 8% during 2021 as it added technology professionals and made new business investments, it said.

Citigroup Inc. hired 5,500 people for its technology arm and increased technology spending by 10% from a year earlier to about $10 billion, it said on Friday. The bank also increased salaries for U.S. junior investment bankers. First-year analysts will see their base pay rise to $110,000 while second- and third-year analysts will get $125,000.

“There’s a lot of competitive pressure out there on wages and pay,” Citigroup CFO Mark Mason said.

Updated: 6-15-2022

Ukraine-Based Blockchain Firm Announces ‘We’re Still Hiring’ Amid Market Downturn, War

According to the CEO, Everstake had made preparations for a “special fund” to tide the firm over in the event of a bear market.

Sergey Vasylchuk, CEO of Ukraine-based decentralized staking provider Everstake, has said the company will continue to hire crypto professionals amid a market downturn and ongoing conflict in the country.

In a Wednesday Twitter thread, Vasylchuk said Everstake had hired 30 people since the Russian war against Ukraine started in February, and the firm still had more than 10 positions in marketing and development to fill. According to the CEO, Everstake is “not firing anybody” and had made preparations for a “special fund” to tide the firm over in the event of a bear market.

“An important part of doing business is assessing and addressing all potential risks,” said Vasylchuk. “We couldn’t help but expect another market crash simply because risk management dictates that one must always expect things to go south.”

The Everstake CEO hinted that part of this preparation was due to the possibility that Russian forces would invade Ukraine.

Vasylchuk said similar precautions taken in the event of a market downturn had allowed the firm to avoid letting employees go — “though I must admit we underestimated the risks of Terra,” he added — and turn the crisis into an opportunity.

Many firms operating in the crypto space from the United States and across the world have reported downsizing as trillions of dollars have vanished from the market in the last 30 days.

Coinbase, Gemini and Crypto.com announced that between 5-20% of their workers would be cut amid the bear market, while Kraken said it would continue hiring for more than 500 roles in various departments.

Along with Kuna, Everstake is a Ukraine-based company in the crypto space that has coordinated with the local government to launch a crypto donation website aimed at military and humanitarian aid amid the conflict with Russia. Since the war began in February, the firm has helped accept more than $100 million in donations in the form of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and major cryptocurrencies.

Binance, Kraken And Polygon Accelerate Hiring In Response To Industry-Wide Job Cuts

Coinbase, BlockFi and Crypto.com are among the crypto-related companies announcing layoffs this week.

Cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Kraken, along with layer 2 sidechain Polygon, are among three companies looking to add staff amid crashing crypto markets.

* A Binance spokesperson told CoinDesk that it has over 2,000 open positions, with its job board showing roles across Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East. “We will continue to grow our team as planned and see this moment in time as an opportunity to gain access to some of the industry’s best talent,” CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a comment shared with CoinDesk.

* He continued: “Our business strategy was to position Binance for sustained growth over the next decade through multiple market downturns or even a prolonged multi-year declining market. We believe that cooler markets offer the best opportunity for organizations to invest in or acquire great projects at a more favorable price point. We are going to have a very active pipeline in the months ahead.”

* Zhao also posted a cheeky tweet, suggesting his company is in a strong position today because it passed on recently spending large sums for sugar-high engagement.

* Rival exchange Kraken also disclosed its intention to increase headcount with an announcement that it will hire over 500 staff. Meanwhile, a Polygon source tells CoinDesk it has “hired at least 50 senior folks all across.” The company also publicly announced a notable hire today, recruiting former Meta and Microsoft marketer Jennifer Kattula as its senior vice president of marketing.

* On Monday, Crypto.com announced job cuts amounting to nearly 5% of its workforce, and BlockFi said it plans to lay off about 20% of its staff. Then on Tuesday, far larger Coinbase really shook things up, announcing reductions of 1,100 employees, or 18% of its global headcount.

FINRA To Hire Employees Terminated From Crypto Firms

“Anybody who is getting laid off from a crypto platform and wants to work for FINRA, give me a call,” said president and CEO Robert Cook.

The United States Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, reportedly plans to “bulk up” its capability to monitor crypto — a move that could include scooping up employees recently terminated from crypto companies.

According to a Tuesday Reuters report, FINRA president and CEO Robert Cook encouraged crypto workers who expect to be on the chopping block to reach out to the financial regulator as part of its efforts to increase resources related to the space.

Major crypto exchanges in the United States including Coinbase and Gemini have announced plans to cut staff amid extreme market volatility, likely resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

“We are already having to be engaged in the space and we think that as a result it’s appropriate for us to bulk up our capabilities there,” said Cook. “Anybody who is getting laid off from a crypto platform and wants to work for FINRA, give me a call.”

Roughly 3,600 people currently work at FINRA, according to its website. Many firms registered with the financial regulator can trade stocks or crypto on their clients’ behalf. Cook reportedly said FINRA was working on developing digital asset verification techniques as well as cross-market surveillance on some blockchains.

Some crypto firms based outside the U.S. including Crypto.com — headquartered in Singapore — have announced similar staff cuts during the market downturn. CEO Kris Marszalek said on June 10 that the exchange would be letting 260 employees go in an effort to “ensure continued and sustainable growth for the long term.”

However, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao announced on Wednesday that the major crypto exchange had 2000 open positions for which it was hiring.

Updated: 6-17-2022

Employee Quits After Red Flags At First Crypto Job, Stays In Blockchain For The Tech

Roland Guirdonan came to believe that cryptocurrencies are the “future of money” despite an unpleasant experience at his first job in the industry.

Crypto startups have a significant role to play in the development of the entire blockchain industry. However, while many business owners have big ideas that aim to change the world, some fail to invest to develop the most critical aspects of a business, resulting in employees quitting.

After being hired by a crypto startup, Roland Guirdonan from Chad, Central Africa, thought he had lucky as he accepted his first job offer in the crypto world. He later realized that while it seemed like a dream job, it was more of a nightmare that he needed to run away from.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Guirdonan noted that the company, which he refused to name, allegedly launched products that did not work and required employees to work a lot of overtime while managers played favorites on who got rewarded for their efforts. He explained that:

“The products of the company are like not really working as the company is not putting too much effort in it. […] But still, we were trying to work on it and try to like bring it to success, but it’s not working.”

He also added that while the products don’t “function properly,” employees of the firm were required to do overtime, working on the projects that he claims were already “dead.” To make things worse, he further alleged that managers were cherry-picking people to reward while others worked more.

“I love like to be in the crypto industry and everything, but I had to quit because it became like really like a bit too much for me. It wasn’t healthy.”

Despite the negative experience, Guirdonan became a blockchain and crypto believer after learning about other projects in the industry. “I chose to stay in the crypto industry because I believe in the technology and also I believe in the projects like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH),” he said.

Guirdonan believes that crypto is truly the “future of money” even though the markets are currently down. He explained that this newfound belief made him want to nmiss out on anything within the industry. He said that:

“Even though everything happened, I didn’t let that stop me from exploring more of the industry and then discovering more about the blockchain.”

He also encouraged anyone who is interested in joining the blockchain industry. Guirdonan believes that “there is really an opportunity for anyone who wants to join this space.”

Updated: 6-27-2022

The Crypto Jobs Boom

It may be a bear market, but there are still plenty of jobs to be had at crypto companies.

Cryptocurrency prices are crashing. The markets are bleeding. Firms are laying off workers. Crypto exchange Coinbase even rescinded accepted job offers, blindsiding would-be employees. But the crypto job market is … still going strong?

Kind of.

Even three weeks ago, before the price of bitcoin tumbled below $30,000, Michael Shlayen, founder of BlockchainHeadhunter, said that “overall, there is a slowdown.” He found that “some companies are putting a freeze on hiring.”

Then bitcoin crashed below $20,000. On June 23, Shlayen updated his assessment, saying that “hiring slowed down even further and the job market has continued to cool off.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Even after the price crash, Shlayen said that “there are still some companies with healthy treasuries and lengthy runways who are continuing to hire ambitiously.”

Other crypto recruiters and headhunters are seeing the same thing – or are even more optimistic. Three weeks ago, Daniel Adler, founder of Cryptocurrency Jobs, acknowledged that he was seeing a bit of a slowdown, but even after bitcoin plunged below $18,000, he updated his take to say that not much has changed, noting that “if anything, it seems things are stabilizing.”

“Teams have had time to adjust to market conditions and the macro environment, and so are able to make more informed decisions,” he said June 21.

He predicted that the Cryptocurrency Jobs will have more listings at the end of the month than it did at the beginning.

Emily Landon, another crypto recruiter, said she found that “a lot of our projects have put things on hold until they can see what’s going on in the bear market.” But even after the slump in prices, Landon said that “we are getting great new business,” meaning new clients and new job openings.

Adler said that while he’s seeing a slowdown, that could also be the result of macro forces outside the blockchain industry.

“Crypto is not immune from what’s happening in the world,” Adler said, citing the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and concerns about a global recession. “That’s affecting crypto as well.” He said that some companies have instituted hiring freezes. Plenty are “still building, and it’s business as usual.”

What counts as “business as usual?” To put the recent cooldown in perspective, it helps to look more broadly at the last 18 months of the crypto job market.

The Call Of The Wild

“The last year and a half has been completely crazy,” said Shlayen, who said he placed more candidates in the past 18 months than in the prior four years combined. For much of that time, he witnessed “a shift of professionals moving into the crypto space.”

Just a few of the high-profile jumps from the “old world” into crypto: Sherice Torres, the former chief marketing officer of Meta Platforms, Facebook’s parent company, is now the CMO of payments company Circle.

Brian Roberts hopped from Lyft, where he was the chief financial officer, to NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace OpenSea, where he holds the same position.

Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital fund heavily investing in crypto, scooped up a glittering roster of all-star talent, including Bill Hinman (former director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission), Brent McIntosh (former Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs) and Tomicah Tillemann (a policy wonk who used to be an adviser to President Biden) – not exactly crypto bros.

While it’s tough to quantify the precise size of the shift, a study from LinkedIn found that “crypto-related job postings skyrocketed last year” and “grew 395% in the U.S. from 2020 to 2021, outpacing the wider tech industry, which saw a 98% increase.”

Lawyers became crypto lawyers. Marketers became crypto marketers. And, um, writers have become crypto writers.

“It’s hiring across all roles, and it’s not just engineering.” Adler said, adding that it was the “strongest market I’ve ever seen.” He said that because so many crypto companies are well-funded and looking to expand, they had roles for “marketing, operations, legal, finance, treasury, content – you name it.”

So why are droves of workers making the jump to crypto? The first reason is obvious. Jenna Pilgrim, principal at Mayflower Strategic, another crypto headhunting firm, said that starting salaries are “pretty comparable” to jobs at Silicon Valley and “much higher” than jobs in financial services, with executives getting paid in the range of $250,000 to $400,000.

And that’s just the base salary. Crypto jobs often come with a trove of tokens, said Shlayen, and those can be lucrative. “If the project succeeds, [total compensation] can be much higher than the actual salary. I’ve seen some crazy packages.”

For example, Shlayen said that some of the jobs he has booked for clients – and not even at the executive level – have included $10,000 worth of tokens, and then those tokens “100Xed.” So that twentysomething engineer became a millionaire. At least, until a few weeks ago.

But Money Is Only Part Of The Lure

“When you look at the space, crypto is more optimistic and mission-driven,” Adler said. He has found that crypto job-seekers truly care about the community and the memes and the GMs and the WAGMIs.

Whether these good vibes survive the price meltdown, of course, remains an open question, although Landon said that as recently as June 22, some companies are “still growing and building.” Others are drawn to the transparency of Web3, with a wealth of data auditable by anyone on public ledgers.

By contrast, when you work at traditional Web2 companies, it can be frustrating to be kept in the dark on the actual metrics of a site’s performance.

Are we really hitting our goals? Is senior leadership telling us the truth? “But in a Web3 space,” Adler said. “You can look at a dashboard to see how many users are using the protocol.”

Then there’s the fact that crypto jobs – even if the money is the same – just strike many as more interesting than traditional roles.

“You can’t disregard the intellectual curiosity,” Adler said. Many of the job seekers, he said, are genuinely drawn to the sector’s wide-ranging mix of economics, psychology, law, geopolitics, philosophy and the overall question of “how do you build systems that actually work?”

In other words, they are drawn to the same things that get people to read (or write) about crypto.

All Ages And Walks Of Life Are Seeking Crypto Jobs

For the bulk of this hiring frenzy, it has not just been the twentysomething crypto bros who are riveted by these questions.

“It’s a mix of all ages,” Landon said. At the job market’s peak, she was gaining 1,000 new LinkedIn followers each week and 50 new connection requests per day. A 72-year-old woman reached out to Landon for a crypto admin position, telling her that, “My son says it’s the future, and I believe him.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Landon works with 16-year-olds still in high school, and said that “they’re accepting job offers instead of going to college.”

And in many cases, no crypto experience is required. “A growing number of professionals are coming from other industries and looking to get into the Web3 world,” Shlayen said.

Adler’s inbox is often packed with direct messages from candidates with traditional jobs who are “crypto curious” and now want to work on it full time.

He said this ranges from the chief of staff at a large bank to medical practitioners to blue-collar construction workers, and that is a point “I want to hammer home – it’s everyone,” he said.

As for the recent crash in prices, and the looming fears of a crypto winter? Adler has been connecting crypto candidates with crypto companies since 2017, and he said that even now – after the Celsius Network meltdown, with the drop in prices – it doesn’t feel like the crypto winter of 2018 and 2019.

Adler said that from what he sees from a qualitative perspective, “Teams are building, talent still wants to make the transition into crypto, and there’s plenty of funding,” he said.

Maybe the industry has matured. Maybe there’s just more funding. Maybe company and project treasuries have wisely diversified their assets into fiat, cushioning the crash and giving them more runway.

Maybe. Or maybe we’ll all soon be flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

 

Updated: 6-28-2022

OKX To Increase Staff By 30% Despite Market Downturn

The crypto exchange wants to have 5,000 employees.

At a time when many crypto exchanges are announcing hiring freezes and layoffs, crypto exchange OKX plans to increase its headcount by 30%, according to Lennix Lai, the platform’s director of financial markets.

The Seychelles-based company believes a staff of 5,000 would be the right number, Lai said Monday on CoinDesk’s TV “First Mover” program.

The cryptocurrency platform now is “mostly focused on increasing our headcount on product and tech,” he said. “We are gradually becoming a lot more internationalized.”

Plans to grow for the exchange come amid a crypto winter that has wreaked havoc on the cryptocurrency and equity markets, prompting exchanges, such as Coinbase, Crypto.com, BlockFi, Gemini and Rain Financial, to cut jobs.

Nonetheless, some exchanges are moving in the opposite direction. Fidelity Digital Assets, for example, plans to double its staff.

Lai said that OKX is hiring because of “a lot of bottleneck” requiring the platform to expand.

As for remote work, he said the company offers employees “a lot of flexibility and freedom to pick where they work,” although OKX likes the idea of employees working from the office.

“We still encourage our employees to actually come to the office, have a meeting or have tea and have a real-time discussion with the team,” Lai said.

Updated: 6-30-2022

How To Start A Career In Crypto? A Beginner’s Guide For 2022

Getting started in a cryptocurrency career may appear complicated at first, but it gets easier as one sets out a clear path to follow.

The cryptocurrency industry is arguably one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. With its decentralized finance (DeFi) system and blockchain technology, crypto has become an attractive career path for those interested in technology and finance.

As expected of any fast-growing sector, growth has also led to a corresponding increase in demand for talented individuals to build the space.

According to a KoreanAITimes report, cryptocurrency and blockchain jobs grew by a whopping 118% between September 2020 and July 2021.

Even in the correct market downturn, where some firms have paused hiring or cut staff from their rosters, others are actively searching for and onboarding staff.

There are tons of career paths to choose from in the cryptocurrency industry. So whether you are simply looking to become a content creator in cryptocurrency, a trade analyst, or even a blockchain engineer, you are in the right place.

5 Steps To Kick Off A Cryptocurrency Career

A cryptocurrency career can’t start from nothing. If you’re looking for a job in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the space and take the necessary steps to prepare yourself for your search and ensure that your CV stands out.

1. Get Acquainted With Cryptocurrencies

By familiarizing yourself with the various digital currencies that exist in this new field, a person searching for a crypto career already sets themself up nicely for the journey ahead.

Some of the most popular cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC) and Tether (USDT). And, if you want to work with them professionally, you must know a thing or two about their structures and how they came about.

2. Learn About Cryptography

Cryptography refers to ways of passing information using codes. This is the very basis upon which cryptocurrency was founded. The essence of cryptography is that whenever a piece of information is coded in some way, only the party for whom the information was originally intended can read and process it.

That is why cryptocurrency uses cryptography to keep them more secure. So, before you take that career dive into the world of cryptocurrency, you might want to take a course in cryptography.

3. Take An Honest Look At Your Skills

This is a very vital step that helps to decide which aspect of the crypto industry you could fit into. It is important to note that a lot of the cryptocurrency jobs are STEM jobs, which are jobs relating to science, technology, engineering and math.

This would include jobs in programming, software development, computer engineering and electrical engineering.

However, this does not mean that there are no career opportunities for those without STEM skills. While those who already have a background in writing may pursue crypto content writer roles, others may explore openings in marketing, business management and communications.

Andrew Vranjes, Vice-President Of Sales And General Manager, Asia-Pacific At BlockDaemon Told Cointelegraph:

“When I am hiring, I’m not fixated on the applicants’ educational background but more of the practical and transferable skills which they’ve established over the years and if they will be a great culture fit.”

“Fundamentals and people who have functional skills are becoming more important — We are always looking for individuals who are passionate and looking to grow with the blockchain space,” he added

4. Networking

Don’t underestimate networking. Networking and connecting with industry experts can be instrumental in progressing in the industry. You want to see and know professionals who have walked the path you are about to embark on.

You also want to learn from top professionals in the role that you’ve chosen. So, if you take networking seriously, it can help your career grow.

There are some professional networking sites like LinkedIn and other forums, but there is also the traditional method of meeting people at conferences and establishing a professional relationship with them.

5. Update Your CV

The last step on the list is to take a deeper look at your CV and make necessary adjustments (additions or subtractions). Then you can start searching for a job in cryptocurrency.

Jobs In Cryptocurrency

Now that you are ready to take on the challenges of the cryptocurrency industry, below is a list of the types of jobs in the industry that you can build your career around. They are subdivided into two groups: technical and non-technical cryptocurrency jobs.

Technical Crypto Jobs

The technical crypto jobs are those that usually require a more advanced level of expertise. To get jobs in this category, you must have undergone training in coding, programming, machine learning, artificial intelligence or blockchain technology in general.

Some of the jobs in the technical category include blockchain developer, blockchain engineer, solidity developer, UI/UX designer, data analyst, security architect, blockchain consultant, quality engineer, software engineer and many more.

Non-Technical Crypto Jobs

There are also cryptocurrency jobs that do not require a high level of expertise or technological know-how. These roles can by filled by people with marketing, entrepreneurial, communication, creativity and problem-solving skills.

When Asked If Someone Who Is Not Trained In Crypto Can Apply For A Job In The Field, Melissa Quinn, Chief Operations Officer At Risk Labs, Told Cointelegraph:

“Don’t shy away from applying for non-technical positions like comms, design or content production. While having experience or background in the industry is helpful, it’s not essential. Skills are transferable and the crypto side of the business can be learned.”

Quinn believes that without having professional experience in this space your actions can speak volumes about your skills, your ability to learn, adapt and self-start.

Projects, writing, decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) contributions and hackathon contributions all showcase your skills in a meaningful way.

Some job positions in this category include content writer, marketing manager, accountant, events manager, financial analyst, project manager and many more.

Crypto Remains Largely Understaffed

Cryptocurrency is here to stay, and with the crypto market projected to grow in value by more than 100% between now and 2028, the demand for crypto-based jobs will always remain high.

However, the number of experts in the field continues to be extremely low considering how big the industry is. If you are passionate about the field or you’ve just been recently attracted to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, you’re one step closer to landing a job and kick-starting your career.

However, the type of job you’ll get will have a lot to do with your qualifications and the kind of skills you possess.

“Be genuine, and avoid mimicking what you think a hiring team wants to hear because the alignment is beneficial to both you and the company in the long run. Be ready to discuss how you plan to succeed in a remote, international setting. What strategies and skills have you used in the past to help with working across timezones?

Once you then land an initial interview, you shouldn’t be asking about the project. Instead, showcase your knowledge of the project by asking intelligent questions. Share how you can add value. This goes beyond just what the job posting says, but also some of the other publicly available materials,” Quinn added.

Updated: 7-1-2022

June roundup: Who’s Hiring And Who’s Firing In The Crypto Space

Binance, Ripple and Kraken are hiring, while Coinbase, Gemini, and Crypto.com have announced staff cuts.

Amid the recent volatility in the crypto market affecting investments and stock prices, many firms made significant staff cuts in the last month while others continued hiring.

In June, major crypto exchange Gemini was among the first to reportedly cut 10% of its employees amid the bear market, saying conditions were “likely to persist for some time.”

Coinbase and Crypto.com followed, announcing plans to reduce staff by 18% and 5%, respectively. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong cited the so-called crypto winter as part of the reason for the cuts, but also stated the firm had been growing “too quickly.”

Market conditions largely have not changed following many decisions to downsize, and other firms have been forced to make cuts. Crypto lending firm BlockFi announced it would be reducing staff by roughly 20% on June 13, and Cointelegraph reported on Thursday that FTX was in the process of finalizing a deal to purchase the platform’s remaining assets for $25 million.

BlockFi CEO Zac Prince denied reports of the sale.

Austrian crypto and stock trading platform Bitpanda announced on June 24 a mass layoff as it aims to “get out of it financially healthy” amid the current bear market, bringing the company to a “​​size of about 730 people.” At the time of publication, the crypto firm has no current job openings on its website.

However, many companies in the crypto space are continuing to operate as normal, seemingly prepared to weather the storm — at least one is even picking up the slack.

Cointelegraph reported that the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority was open to hiring terminated employees from crypto firms in an effort to “bulk up” its capabilities.

Globally, Binance and Ripple offered thousands of jobs to replace the ones that were recently dissolved from major crypto exchanges and firms.

Kraken also stood out as one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges announcing plans to continue hiring for more than 500 roles in various departments amid the market downturn.

Sergey Vasylchuk, CEO of Ukraine-based decentralized staking provider Everstake, announced on June 15 that the firm was “not firing anybody.”

According to data gathered by blockchain jobs site Crypto Jobs List, companies have listed more than 3,000 jobs related to the crypto space in the United States in the last seven days — roughly 37% of all jobs posted in the last 30 days.

The United Kingdom and India similarly saw a large number of crypto jobs advertised in the last seven days — 562 and 183, respectively — suggesting the industry still has room for staff.

“Kraken and Binance have shown that they plan to stay around for a long time by looking to grow their headcount during a bear market,” a spokesperson for Crypto Jobs List told Cointelegraph. “The market downturn has meant that individuals who don’t plan to stick around for long are deterred, and only serious candidates that are interested in a long-term career are left to apply, and hiring managers recognise this.”

At the time of publication, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) is under $20,000, having fallen more than 37% in the last 30 days according to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro.

So You Want To Be A Bitcoin Developer?

Brink co-founder Mike Schmidt and Bitcoin Core developer Larry Ruane discuss the ins and outs of funding Bitcoin research and development. This post is part of CoinDesk’s Future of Work Week.

Bill Gates was still in high school when Richard Stallman was busy hacking computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1971. Stallman went on to launch the free software movement, and Gates gladly assumed the role of corporate software antihero.

I was watching “Revolution OS,” a history of open-source computing, the other day and couldn’t help but chuckle when the narrator read Gates’ scathing “Open Letter to Hobbyists.”

Microsoft had released software for the very early Altair 8800 and was accusing PC hobbyists of illegally copying and distributing that software. Gates wrote:

“Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who work on it get paid? Is this fair?”

Stallman was on a different trajectory. In 1984, he quit his job at MIT to focus on building a free and open operating system. The goal was to create an alternative to proprietary systems like Unix. His project was aptly named GNU, a recursive acronym for “Gnu’s not Unix.”

Stallman was all too familiar with Gates’ assertion that developers couldn’t make money from free and open software. In 1985, he released his famous GNU Manifesto and countered Gates’ argument head-on. Under the section “Programmers need to make a living somehow,” Stallman wrote:

“People with new ideas could distribute programs as freeware, asking for donations from satisfied users.”

How To Become A Bitcoin Developer – Pay It Forward

Mike Schmidt, co-founder and executive director of Brink, an organization that funds Bitcoin development, explains that Bitcoin developers don’t just crank out code.

They test, review and contribute in many other ways. In fact, a deep passion for contributing is pivotal if you want to join the Bitcoin family.

Schmidt compares the process of becoming a Bitcoin developer to a funnel. At the top, you have acclimatization. This is where one becomes intimately familiar with key areas current developers are working on.

A great starting point is subscribing to the weekly Bitcoin Optech newsletter, which aggregates information from developer mailings lists, pull requests and key discussions.

Next, you have education. Schmidt recommends Bitcoin coding boot camps like Jimmy Song’s Programming Blockchain seminars, or Lisa Neigut’s Base58 course. There’s also something called the PR Review Club where budding developers can sharpen their pull request reviewing skills.

The bottom of the funnel is where developers become comfortable with the inner workings of the Bitcoin Core codebase. To be clear, there’s no magical line separating each stage, and this funnel concept is only an analogy.

In fact, some developers like Larry Ruane entered the funnel at an intermediate stage. Ruane is a Bitcoin Core developer on a full-time Brink grant. He graduated with a master of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois.

“When I first heard of Bitcoin in 2013, I was mostly fascinated by the trustless consensus mechanism. I didn’t think such a thing was possible, especially so simply,” Ruane said.

Ruane had already worked on consensus protocols like Paxos, but something about Bitcoin’s proof-of-work consensus was alluring to him. In fact, he went on a brief foray into hobbyist bitcoin mining before getting hired to work on Zcash.

“I got a job at the Electric Coin Company, creators of Zcash, which is a code fork of Bitcoin Core. I happened to find a minor bug in Zcash and discovered it also existed ‘upstream.”

So I opened my first Bitcoin Core pull request to fix the bug. It merged quickly, so I assumed it was pretty easy to get changes into Bitcoin Core. (This belief was naive.),” Ruane said.

That pull request triggered a flywheel effect. Ruane gradually increased his contributions until Brink awarded him a small grant to work on Bitcoin Core one 10-hour day a week.

“I proposed to help with pull request review because that’s a critical need right now. It also helps to show your enthusiasm and dedication. You’re much more likely to succeed if you’ve already put in the effort and built a reputation,” he said.

After proving himself and paying it forward, he was awarded a full-time grant. I got the sense that Brink’s grant application process is both challenging and competitive, so I asked Ruane what made his grant application stand out.

“I was lucky to have help from more experienced developers. I revised my application many times. I think it helps to be as specific as possible and to emphasize how your work will advance Bitcoin,” he said.

Funding Bitcoin Development

Brink’s fellowship and grant programs are 100% donor funded. Donors range from large crypto exchanges like Coinbase to smaller startups like BtcTurk. Brink isn’t the only player in the Bitcoin funding network, and Schmidt was quick to point out how diverse that network is.

“There’s Chaincode [Labs] that employs a bunch of Bitcoin developers. They’re in New York, and they have a nice office up there. There’s Blockstream that has a bunch of folks specializing in crypto. So ‘crypto’ meaning cryptography.

They fund a lot of the cryptographers and mathematicians doing research and development in the space.”

Those funding efforts are global in scale. Schmidt gave the example of Qala, a Bitcoin funding program supporting the next wave of Bitcoin and Lightning developers in Africa. Qala is funded by some of the same organizations that donate to Brink.

In fact, prior to the current bear market, many companies in the sector were increasing their funding activities.

“A lot of exchanges are trying to spin up or have spun up their own developer funding divisions, the first of which is BitMEX. They’ve funded different developers over the years, and they do all of that in-house. There’s someone there whose job is to vet applications and go through them to make sure the right people are getting funded,” Schmidt said.

Back in 2020, Coinbase started its Crypto Community Fund with the initial goal of funding Bitcoin Core development. Gemini recently announced Superlunar, which provides grants and sponsorships to contributors in the market.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has donated over $750,000 to more than 20 Bitcoin-related projects via its Bitcoin Development Fund. HRF’s vision is to promote the use of Bitcoin as a financial tool for human rights activists.

“It’s a much richer landscape than it has been in years past, which is good, but there’s still a lot to do,” Schmidt said.

Career Advice From A Bitcoin Core Developer

Stallman famously said: “Free software is a matter of freedom, not price.” That’s my favorite Stallman quote. I bring up that quote because I sensed a similar ethos when I asked Ruane for his advice to aspiring developers.

“The most important piece of advice I have is to first look inward,” he said.

 

Updated: 7-2-2022

Hiring Top Crypto Talent Can Be Difficult, But It Doesn’t Have To Be

How to identify top crypto talent in the recruitment process: Hire a diverse range of people who have the required attributes without lowering your standards.

Building a career or constructing a team in decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto relies on finding talent, skills and the right attitude anywhere, in anyone.

While this is no different than other industries, what makes ours unique are the much-needed, specialized skill sets combined with finding a good culture fit in an international and remote setting.

Despite recent turbulence in markets, crypto companies continue building and growing. The increased energy and legitimacy in the industry over the years has many people wanting to make the switch from Web2 to Web3.

This requires recruiters to sift through hundreds of applicants every month, but how do you find the right people who are enthusiastic about the ethos of the industry and excited to build impactful technology? Here are a few recruiting strategies that can help and a couple of things to avoid.

Hire For Attitude

No matter the industry, the right attitude can go a long way. Work in crypto and DeFi is often international, remote, fast-moving and non-traditional. Its nature is decentralized, so work environments tend to be the same.

We lean into hiring people who are kind, team-oriented, self-directed, energetic, innovative and deal with mistakes and challenges in the right way. But how do you identify those habits and the right attitude in someone during the hiring process?

There are a few ways to do this. Ask them what they value. What do they find important in terms of culture, teamwork and others’ attitudes?

To drive at these responses, it can help to ask the candidate the same question in a few different ways and then measure for sincerity. If they keep coming back to topics or statements that feel genuine, then they probably are.

If they haven’t thought of what values and cultural elements they look for in their next team, that could be a red flag.

It is also helpful to dig into how candidates plan to succeed in a remote and international setting. (Our team has people in nearly a dozen different countries around the world.) How have they managed with diverse time zones?

What is their attitude around being flexible for other teammates’ work/life boundaries? We’ve learned that successful remote work requires people with attitudes that embrace flexibility and understand how to self-direct with asynchronous communication.

Maintain A Deeply Thorough Interview Process

We’ve been told many times that our interview process is one of the most deliberate and in-depth recruiting processes candidates have experienced.

It’s common for a candidate to speak to up to four current members of the team during the interview process. It’s not meant to be grueling; it’s meant to be explorative, transparent and helpful — to both sides.

This process is by design. Several conversations, practice scenarios, exercises and touchpoints that involve several current team members create more opportunities to get to know each other. The more you talk, the more you can identify strengths, weaknesses, motivations and attitudes.

Formal education hasn’t yet caught up to crypto, so it’s challenging to assess educational and professional experience the same way you can in some traditional industries. This process needs to give people equal opportunity to showcase their skillsets, culture fit and talents.

Our experience building a remote, global team has proven that hiring requires transparency and respect. The process is a two-way street. You’re choosing each other. If the candidate ends up choosing another role because your process is too involved or lengthy, then so be it.

It’s important to maintain these intentional, strategic and thorough processes consistently. Hiring the wrong person carries a larger cost than hiring the right person, slowly.

Don’t Hire Out Of Desperation

While the industry feels like it’s in constant flux and growth can happen suddenly and quickly, resist the urge to hire for the sake of growth alone. It’s tempting to lower your hiring bar when talent is hard to find, but success emerges when you keep expectations high.

As mentioned above, a thorough process of interviewing and recruiting will pay off down the road by securing the right people for the right reasons. Having a position vacant is better than having the wrong person in the position for a brief time.

Pursue Diversity (In All Its Forms)

Crypto and DeFi are improving from a diversity perspective, but it still has a long way to go, particularly in science-, technology-, engineering- and mathematics-based roles.

Any visit to a crypto or DeFi event or conference shows that participation is heavily weighted toward white men. This is holding back our organizations, communities and industry.

Teams that are more diverse are stronger. Teams with more women, more people of color, more people of various geographic or national backgrounds and sexual or gender orientations will achieve more innovation, understanding, productivity and longevity. A diverse team will cultivate a diverse ecosystem of ideas and achievements.

This requires developing strong cultures and policies that are inclusive, supportive, professional and open-minded and practice zero tolerance for prejudice or discrimination in both organizational and community behavior.

The benefit of having a remote-first company is that you can hire anyone, anywhere. So, take advantage of that but be sensitive to how your team and industry may be felt and experienced by others with their own unique experiences.

To achieve this, start with policies and philosophies that are inviting and inclusive. Then you need to think outside the box to find diverse candidate pools.

For example, look for women-led decentralized autonomous organizations, hackathons or Twitter communities, and be a champion where you can for underrepresented groups in the industry.

If you can’t find them, help to build them.

Don’t Shy Away From People Who Are Unfamiliar With Crypto

Crypto and DeFi are obviously highly complicated industries that require specialized skill sets. But that doesn’t mean organizations should restrict themselves to recruits who are already familiar with crypto or active in it.

There are plenty of highly skilled Web2 people involving themselves in crypto as their hobby. Search for meaningful contributors, self-starters and those willing to learn. That’s what this industry is all about.

With the right attitude and ethos, blockchain and crypto knowledge can be learned. Seek to embrace things such as paired programming, internal learning sessions and frequent performance reviews to continually develop talent.

While early weeks and months can and will feel overwhelming to non-crypto recruits, people with the right attitude and objectives will learn, especially if they are being mentored and guided by a welcoming, understanding and strategic team.

Patience Is A Virtue. (Engaging With Non-Crypto Folks Will Also Nurture Diversity.)

The industry has grown so fast over the last five years that the talent pool criteria will have to expand, or else we will run out of options, especially in the bear market that we now find ourselves in.

 

Updated: 7-7-2022

Bit2Me to Double Headcount, Make Three Acquisitions

The CEO of the Spanish crypto exchange said now is the time to build.

Spanish crypto exchange Bit2Me plans to add 250 employees during the next 12 months, doubling its headcount, co-founder and CEO Leif Ferreira told CoinDesk.

The company has also signed memorandums of understanding for three acquisitions, including purchasing a 90% stake in a Latin American exchange and buying a fintech company and a software developer, both based in Spain, Ferreira added. More details will be available later this year, he said.

“In a context of many layoffs, now is the time to hold and build,” Ferreira said. “Crypto is not going to stop, no matter how much prices have fallen.”

Funding for the hiring and acquisitions will come from cash on hand, including part of the 20 million euros ($20.3 million) raised through an initial coin offering in 2021, Ferreira said, though he didn’t rule out adding capital via a strategic partner.

“It is not something we need or want to close immediately,” he said. “We are open to a strategic partner coming in. It is not an obsession for us.”

In February, Bit2Me received the first license granted by the Bank of Spain as a “provider of services for the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency and the custody of digital wallets,” the company said at that time.

In addition to Spain, Bit 2Me operates in Portugal, Italy, France, Brazil and Peru. The company has 600,000 users, 70% of whom are in Spain. Trading volume in 2021 totaled 1.1 billion euros ($1.12 billion).

The company also plans to introduce a Mastercard debit card, a futures trading platform, a lending service and a feature to allow online shops receive payments via cryptocurrencies, all this year.

Updated: 7-11-2022

KuCoin Denies Layoff Rumors, Says It’s Hiring 300

The crypto exchange plans to add employees in tech, compliance and marketing.

Cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin pushed back against rumors of massive layoffs, saying it actually intends to hire more than 300 employees over the coming months, CEO Johnny Lyu told CoinDesk via Telegram on Monday.

“KuCoin has not reduced staff and does not plan to do so,” Lyu said. “We are one of the few crypto platforms that continue to grow by relying on an effective business strategy, focusing on releasing new products and maintaining a healthy atmosphere in our team.”

Lyu added the company was doing everything it could to “increase the productivity and motivation of employees,” while also focusing on expanding in innovation and compliance.

The total number of KuCoin’s employees recently topped 1,000, and current plans imply hiring 300 more, Lyu said. That includes positions in its technology, compliance and marketing teams.

“We believe that our bet on growth in times of market turbulence is the only correct decision that helps us maintain a high bar,” Lyu added. “Any conversations asserting the opposite should be considered untenable.”

The market downturn has prompted many crypto companies and exchanges to lay off staff. To name three exchanges, Coinbase let about 1,100 workers go in June, Banxa laid off 70 employees, and Huobi is planning to lay off as much as 30% of its staff.

 

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These Are The Cities Googling ‘Bitcoin’ As Interest Hits 17-Month High (#GotBitcoin?)

Venezuelan Explains How Bitcoin Saves His Family (#GotBitcoin?)

Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain: Impact On Cryptography

This Fund Is Riding Bitcoin To Top (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Surge Leaves Smaller Digital Currencies In The Dust (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Exchange Hits $1 Trillion In Trading Volume (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Breaks $200 Billion Market Cap For The First Time In 17 Months (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Make State Tax Payments In Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Religious Organizations Make Ideal Places To Mine Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Goldman Sacs And JP Morgan Chase Finally Concede To Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Heading For Fifth Month Of Gains Despite Price Correction (#GotBitcoin?)

Breez Reveals Lightning-Powered Bitcoin Payments App For IPhone (#GotBitcoin?)

Big Four Auditing Firm PwC Releases Cryptocurrency Auditing Software (#GotBitcoin?)

Amazon-Owned Twitch Quietly Brings Back Bitcoin Payments (#GotBitcoin?)

JPMorgan Will Pilot ‘JPM Coin’ Stablecoin By End Of 2019: Report (#GotBitcoin?)

Is There A Big Short In Bitcoin? (#GotBitcoin?)

Coinbase Hit With Outage As Bitcoin Price Drops $1.8K In 15 Minutes

Samourai Wallet Releases Privacy-Enhancing CoinJoin Feature (#GotBitcoin?)

There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Get Bitcoin Rewards When Booking At Hotels.Com (#GotBitcoin?)

North America’s Largest Solar Bitcoin Mining Farm Coming To California (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin On Track For Best Second Quarter Price Gain On Record (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Hash Rate Climbs To New Record High Boosting Network Security (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Exceeds 1Million Active Addresses While Coinbase Custodies $1.3B In Assets

Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Lightning Comes To Apple Smartwatches With New App (#GotBitcoin?)

E-Trade To Offer Crypto Trading (#GotBitcoin)

US Rapper Lil Pump Starts Accepting Bitcoin Via Lightning Network On Merchandise Store (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitfinex Used Tether Reserves To Mask Missing $850 Million, Probe Finds (#GotBitcoin?)

21-Year-Old Jailed For 10 Years After Stealing $7.5M In Crypto By Hacking Cell Phones (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Shop With Bitcoin On Amazon Using Lightning (#GotBitcoin?)

Afghanistan, Tunisia To Issue Sovereign Bonds In Bitcoin, Bright Future Ahead (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Faithful Say Blockchain Can Remake Securities Market Machinery (#GotBitcoin?)

Disney In Talks To Acquire The Owner Of Crypto Exchanges Bitstamp And Korbit (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Exchange Gemini Rolls Out Native Wallet Support For SegWit Bitcoin Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)

Binance Delists Bitcoin SV, CEO Calls Craig Wright A ‘Fraud’ (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Outperforms Nasdaq 100, S&P 500, Grows Whopping 37% In 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Passes A Milestone 400 Million Transactions (#GotBitcoin?)

Future Returns: Why Investors May Want To Consider Bitcoin Now (#GotBitcoin?)

Next Bitcoin Core Release To Finally Connect Hardware Wallets To Full Nodes (#GotBitcoin?)

Major Crypto-Currency Exchanges Use Lloyd’s Of London, A Registered Insurance Broker (#GotBitcoin?)

How Bitcoin Can Prevent Fraud And Chargebacks (#GotBitcoin?)

Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)

Zebpay Becomes First Exchange To Add Lightning Payments For All Users (#GotBitcoin?)

Coinbase’s New Customer Incentive: Interest Payments, With A Crypto Twist (#GotBitcoin?)

The Best Bitcoin Debit (Cashback) Cards Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

Real Estate Brokerages Now Accepting Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Ernst & Young Introduces Tax Tool For Reporting Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)

Recession Is Looming, or Not. Here’s How To Know (#GotBitcoin?)

How Will Bitcoin Behave During A Recession? (#GotBitcoin?)

Many U.S. Financial Officers Think a Recession Will Hit Next Year (#GotBitcoin?)

Definite Signs of An Imminent Recession (#GotBitcoin?)

What A Recession Could Mean for Women’s Unemployment (#GotBitcoin?)

Investors Run Out of Options As Bitcoin, Stocks, Bonds, Oil Cave To Recession Fears (#GotBitcoin?)

Goldman Is Looking To Reduce “Marcus” Lending Goal On Credit (Recession) Caution (#GotBitcoin?)

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