Are People Leaving Their Tech Jobs for Web3?

Big tech is losing some top talent to blockchain companies


Blockworks exclusive art by axel rangel


key takeaways

  • By combining technology and ideology, Web3 is attracting big tech’s top talent
  • 94% of crypto investors are Gen Z and Millennials, and many believe that Web3 will play a significant role in their future

Just as Big Tech companies lured top talent away from Wall Street in the early 2000s, today’s Web3 companies are catching the attention of senior executives in the tech industry. 

Google’s former vice president, Surojit Chatterjee, now serves as Coinbase’s chief product officer. Amazon’s Pravjit Tiwana left his position as general manager of AWS Edge Services to become the chief technology officer at Gemini. Lyft’s former chief financial officer, Brian Roberts, joined non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea, and the former head of gaming at YouTube now leads Polygon Studios as its CEO.

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Perhaps the most well-known of them all is Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, who has now stepped down from his position as the company’s CEO to focus on his crypto-oriented payments company, Block (formerly known as Square).

Senior executives are not the only ones moving into the space. Studies reveal that 94% of crypto investors are Gen Z or Millennials, a demographic that skews toward a view of cryptocurrency as a retirement asset and perhaps a career option. 

“The most attractive thing about working for a crypto company is obviously the opportunity to work on the forefront of bleeding-edge [innovation]. We have heard many times before that the space right now is akin to what the internet was in the late 1990s or early 2000s,” Duy Cao, senior consultant at CryptoRecruit told Blockworks. “A lot of us were too young back then to capitalize on the opportunity or to meaningfully contribute to an exciting space.”

“Crypto is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity industry of our generation,” Cao said.  

Although Web3 can appear to be an exciting area to explore, the crypto market is also known to be quite volatile. Recent inflation rises and stock market downturns have led the bitcoin and ether market caps to decline by over 50% over the past six months. TerraUSD’s crash further crushed the market, wiping off $200 billion in just a day. 

“Recruiting has seemed to slow down a little bit. We don’t get as many incoming leads as say six months ago,” Cao said, adding that despite this, “some of the best projects are built during bear markets, whilst the hot air projects tend to disappear.”

The market downturn has not yet deterred venture capitalists from investing in the space. Andreessen Horowitz last week went ahead with the previously planned launch of its $4.5 billion mega fund, targeting Web3 startups from decentralized finance (DeFi) and social media to gaming and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), among others.

Binance Labs, the venture capital arm of cryptocurrency exchange company Binance, also announced its plans to allocate $500 million to blockchain projects in incubation, early-stage and late-stage growth startups. 

Compared to the 2017-18 ICO craze, Cao said, “this time around it’s very different — there is more clarity around regulatory and compliance procedures, more institutional adoption and most importantly, there is a lot more money coming in from VCs.”

As a result, Web2 veterans are flocking to an industry in need of their experience and guidance, he said.

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