Oakland, Calif. — When Sandy Carter quit her job as vice president of Amazon’s cloud computing unit this month, she announced in a LinkedIn post that she was joining a crypto technology company. He included a link to open positions at the start-up.
That said, within two days, more than 350 people — many of the largest Internet companies — had clicked on the link to apply for jobs in the firm, unstoppable domain. The start-up sells website addresses that sit on the blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underpins cryptocurrencies.
“It’s the perfect storm,” said Ms. Carter. “The speed we’re seeing in this space is incredible.”
Ms. Carter is part of a wave of executives and engineers leaving jobs at Google, Amazon, Apple and other large tech companies – some of which pay millions of dollars in annual compensation – which they do once in a while. As see – the opportunity of the generation. The next big thing is crypto, he said, a catchall designation that includes digital currencies like bitcoin and products like non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, that rely on blockchains.
Silicon Valley is now full of stories of people riding ridiculous crypto investments like Dogecoin, a digital coin based on the Doge meme, for life-changing assets. Bitcoin is up nearly 60 percent this year, while ether, the cryptocurrency tied to the Ethereum blockchain, has risen more than fivefold in value.
But beyond that speculative frenzy, a growing contingent of the tech industry’s best and brightest sees a transformative moment that comes once every few decades and rewards those who see seismic change before the rest of the world. Huh. With crypto, they see historical parallels to how personal computers and the Internet were once ridiculed, only to perpetuate the status quo and shield a new generation of billionaires.
Investors have also flooded in, according to private investment tracking firm PitchBook. They have invested more than $28 billion in global crypto and blockchain start-ups this year, four times more than in 2020. Over $3 billion has been invested in NFT companies alone.
“There is a huge sucker coming from crypto, which competes with crypto companies for talent,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, chief executive of search engine start-up Niva and a former Google executive. “It feels like the birth of the Internet in the 1990s and again. It’s so quick, that chaotic and so full of opportunity. ,
Crypto, also rebranded as the less foreboding Web 3, may not be different from previous speculative bubbles like subprime mortgages or the 17th-century tulip craze, skeptics said. Much of the frenzy, he said, was driven by a desire to get rich quickly by trading an asset class, which often seemed to be based on Internet jokes.
But a growing ranks of true believers said that crypto could change the world by creating a more decentralized internet that is not controlled by a handful of companies. While such possibilities have existed since the emergence of bitcoin in 2009, crypto products such as NFTs only went mainstream this year. This has accelerated the exodus from Big Tech companies to the crypto world.
This month, Brian Roberts, chief financial officer of Lyft, left the ride-hailing company to join OpenSea, a popular crypto start-up. “I’ve seen enough cycles and patterns to come to mind when something big is happening,” he said in an email. “We are on day one in terms of NFTs and their impact.”
(John Zimmer, Lyft’s co-founder, said he wished Roberts the best of luck in his new venture.)
Last month, Jack Dorsey stepped down as Twitter’s chief executive officer to spend more time on cryptocurrency and Web3 efforts at his second company, Square. While approving the blockchain, Mr. Dorsey also changed the name of Square to Block. He outlined the change by modifying photo portraits of block officials to be block-headed avatars, and created a software tool so that others could create their own block-headed avatars.
And David Marcus, head of cryptocurrency efforts at Facebook’s parent company Meta, announced that he was leaving by the end of the year to follow his “entrepreneurial DNA.” Mr. Marcus, 48, plans to work on his own cryptocurrency project, two people told of his plans.
Mr Marcus declined to comment, as did a META spokesperson.
The allure of crypto has been so irresistible that some of the biggest tech companies are scrambling to retain employees. At Google, concerns about keeping employees – about not losing them to crypto companies – became so pressing that the issue became part of the weekly executive agenda, discussed by the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai and his top deputies. Discussed every Monday, two people said. Knowledge of discussions.
These people said Google began granting additional stock to employees in parts of the company that seemed ripe for poaching. Google declined to comment.
Unlike Meta, which has embraced crypto, Google has been reluctant to jump into the movement. But Google employees saw crypto opportunities firsthand when Surojit Chatterjee, a vice president, left the company last year to become chief product officer of Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
When Coinbase went public in April, Mr. Chatterjee’s stake in the company increased to more than $600 million in value. He only worked there for 14 months.
Such a huge amount of crypto money has sparked a fear of missing out, or FOMO, among many tech experts – especially those whose friends bought bitcoin several years ago and are now extremely wealthy.
“In 2017 or so, most people were in it for the investment opportunity,” said Evan Cheng, co-founder and CEO of Misten Labs. “Now these guys really want to make stuff up.”
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Mr. Cheng, 50, left the company in September after six years, formerly known as Facebook, most recently working on Novi, its crypto effort. About 20 employees of Misten Labs, most of whom are scattered in San Francisco, London, New York and elsewhere, about 80 percent come from tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Netflix.
Companies focusing on blockchain technologies have proliferated, including cryptocurrency exchanges such as Bitpanda, Gemini and Coinlist; NFT and art collectibles such as OpenSea and Dapper Labs; and infrastructure companies like Dfinity and Alchemy.
Some brain drain in crypto has also been driven by concerns about the control and dominance of the largest tech companies by their own employees. Many joined Google, Facebook and others to create something new, only to face the backlash of bureaucracy and working on giants.
Those left behind Big Tech Pay don’t have to wait as long as traditional tech start-ups to get paid in crypto start-ups.
While employees typically accept a small salary at tech start-ups in the hope that the company’s stock will one day grow larger, workers at crypto start-ups were provided with “liquidity” or the ability to redeem their shares long ago. Is performed. Often, they can do this as they trade their company’s cryptocurrencies, according to Dan McCarthy, a recruiter at investment firm Paradigm, who has written on the potential upsides of crypto start-ups for tech workers.
In some cases, crypto start-ups offer compensation packages similar to those of the largest tech firms because of how easily employees can convert their company’s “token” – or the underlying cryptocurrency – to the underlying cryptocurrency while supporting the start-up. in cash.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that you now have to take a third of your big tech salary, because so many of these companies are so well capitalized,” Mr. Cheng said.
Ms Carter, a former Amazon vice president, said people were interested in working in crypto firms for more than just money. Few were drawn to the ethos of Web3, which seeks to decentralize power and decision-making. It’s an alternative to how Google and Facebook dominated the Internet by sucking up personal data from users to sell targeted ads.
Ms Carter said there was a lot of interest about Web3 at Amazon, but she was not hiring there because she had agreed not to call her former colleagues.
So will the exodus of tech workers to crypto continue?
“The answer is absolutely yes,” she said. “The timing is perfect to jump in.”