Silicon Valley Execs Quit Good-Paying Jobs For Crypto Startups, Quick Riches

Silicon Valley Execs Quit Good-Paying Jobs For Crypto Startups, Quick Riches

crypto startups

PHOTO: Jonathan Erasmus / iStock, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/JonoErasmus?mediatype=photography

Some of the biggest tech companies are scrambling to retain employees as a wave of engineers and executives quit jobs that pay as much as seven-figure salaries for what’s seen as a once-in-a-generation opportunity — to join crypto startups. 

Stories of massive crypto wealth amassed by early investors in Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptos including meme coin Dogecoin — which started as a joke and now ranks the No. 12 cryptocurrency by market capitalization — have helped create FOMO, or fear of missing out, among techies, the New York Times reported.

Bitcoin is up about 60 percent this year, Ether has been up more than 1000 percent since 2020 and Dogecoin was up 15,653 percent in May when it reached its record high of $0.7376. (DOGE is trading at $0.1774 as of this writing.)

Companies focused on blockchain technologies have mushroomed, including cryptocurrency exchanges such as Ripple, Bitpanda, Gemini and CoinList; blockchain infrastructure companies such as Dfinity and Alchemy, and NFTs (nonfungible tokens) and art collectible companies such as OpenSea and Dapper Labs.

Surojit Chatterjee, a former Google vice president, left the company in 2020 to become the chief product officer of Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges. When Coinbase went public in April, Chatterjee’s stake in the company rose to $600 million after he had worked there 14 months.

Brian Roberts, the former chief financial officer of Lyft, left to join NFT startup OpenSea. “I’ve seen enough cycles and paradigm shifts to be cognizant when something this big is just emerging,” he told the New York Times in an email. “We are Day 1 in terms of NFTs and their impact.”

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Sandy Carter left her job as a vice president of Amazon cloud computing to join Unstoppable Domains, a startup that sells website addresses on the blockchain. In a LinkedIn post, she included a link for job openings at the startup. Within two days, she said, more than 350 people — many from the biggest internet companies — had clicked to apply. “It’s the perfect storm,” Carter said. “The momentum we’re seeing in this space is just incredible.”

Crypto is the next big thing, they say. It’s having a transformational moment comparable to personal computers and the internet, which were once derided, “only to upend the status quo and mint a new generation of billionaires,” Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Isaac wrote for the New York Times.

David Marcus, the head of cryptocurrency at Facebook parent 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 with knowledge of his plans said.

Some of the crypto startups are offering salaries in line with Big Tech, with employee compensation packages that may include the ability to convert their company’s tokens to cash.

“It’s not necessarily the case that you have to go take one-third of your Big Tech salary anymore, because a lot of these companies are so well capitalized,” said Evan Cheng, co-founder and CEO of Mysten Labs, a blockchain infrastructure-focused startup, in a New York Times report.

Silicon Valley venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz has dedicated a $2.2 billion fund to crypto startups and has embraced Web3 with its investments, Business Insider reported.

All the new venture capital pouring into crypto startups is not being universally celebrated.

“You don’t own ‘web3′” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted on Monday, referring to the next generation of the internet, which is built on the blockchain, is decentralized, and won’t be controlled by Web2’s tech giants such as Google, crypto advocates argue.

“The VCs and their LPs do”, Dorsey added in a Twitter reference to venture capitalists and their limited partners. “It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label. Know what you’re getting into…”

Tesla billionaire and CEO Elon Musk has also slammed Web3, saying it “sounds like BS,” according to Business Insider.

PHOTO: Jonathan Erasmus / iStock, https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/JonoErasmus?mediatype=photography

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?