Crypto Hiring Q&A: Crypto firms are looking for Solana-literate devs

Elsewhere, Cowen’s crypto employees moved to StoneX and Nomura’s crypto custody firm CEO stepped down

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Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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As the market heats up, crypto hiring appears to be coming along for the ride. Blockworks spoke with Dan Eskow, founder of Web3 talent agency Up Top, about what he’s seeing in the re-energized hiring market.

Keep reading for excerpts from Blockworks’ interview with Eskow, edited for brevity and clarity.


Blockworks: Obviously, the crypto job market got pretty bad post-FTX. When did you see that start to turn around?

Eskow: Right around Thanksgiving. End of November, early December is when we started lining up all these deals for January and really seeing the volume increase like crazy, and it’s timed pretty directly with all these fundraising announcements that are now coming out.

Read more: Employees burned by FTX enter a tightening market

Blockworks: What kinds of crypto jobs are you finding to be the most in-demand right now?

Eskow: I would say last cycle, clearly Solidity devs were the most in demand, and I would say now it’s pretty clear that it’s Rust because of so much action in Solana. Also, we’re seeing Rust used in other ecosystems outside of EVM and Solana. Rust seems to be a language that has a lot of translatable values, so like if you’re good in Rust, you can be good in Golang and therefore work in Cosmos or Berachain and these new layer-1s like Monad.

One thing that completely disappeared quickly during the last cycle is growth and partnerships, these roles that are kind of non-technical/undefined. I would say that last cycle they were like, “Alright, you’re either BD or you’re marketing, we’re not doing this growth partnerships thing,” and now that’s coming back a little bit.

As you’re seeing all these fundraising announcements come out and everything’s getting super competitive again in each particular category, the social media content roles are becoming more important to create narratives, so sometimes I’m seeing companies actually hire social media people before they even have a marketing department to do traditional marketing, just because they know how important it is to quickly create the narrative that you’re the leader in this space and in this niche.

Read more: Farcaster is marrying social media and Web3 to onboard the masses

Blockworks: Anything else notable you’re seeing?

Eskow: [In] the transition from bear market to bull market, one of the things that you notice is the inventory of talent is starting to look much different. In the bear market, there was a ton of top, top, top tier talent floating around, but they were indecisive as to where they wanted to go because the narratives driving the market were not as clear. Now they’re saying, “Okay, [real-world assets] are hot. Let’s do it.” So my point is all of the A-players are sort of coming off the market now, and so I’m having to reset expectations with clients who we’ve been working with that have been spoiled with incredibly good resumes.

Blockworks: That’s fascinating. That’s a consequence of the bull market starting up that I wouldn’t expect.

Eskow: I can see the direction that we’re going, which is that these bankers and Web2 people are gonna have a spot again. It’s funny, I’m working with this guy just as a favor, who’s a frigging accountant in Web2, and wants to be a Solidity developer. He’s like, “Do you think if I take a coding class, get hired in some shitty company for six months for low money, that I can actually get a real job in like a year from that?”

Read more: Electric Capital finds veteran Web3 devs are on the rise

I said absolutely. Because the way this trend is going, the inventory of top developers is going down. And what I remember about the last peak of the bull cycle was that if you can find someone with six months of Solidity experience at any company really in crypto — didn’t have to be a brand name, and they maybe don’t even have to have a classic engineering background — those people will get hired.

Ex-Cowen crypto employees move to StoneX

The boutique investment firm Cowen shut down its crypto unit in May as the asset class slogged its way through a bear market. In the fall, five staff from the erstwhile effort found a new home at broker-dealer StoneX.

The group has populated the upper levels of their new firm. Eric Rose became head of digital asset execution, David Kroger became senior vice president and Kyrill Firshein became director of digital markets. 

“We’ve made a ton of progress building the StoneX Digital execution services in the last few months and we’re just getting started,” Rose wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing the Cowen-to-StoneX hires.  

StoneX is a large traditional financial services firm. The firm made its first dollar-denominated bitcoin swap in mid-2022. It launched a digital assets arm a few months later. Last year, StoneX began offering clients access to Coinbase’s derivatives exchange.

TD Cowen, the new StoneX group’s former employer, started up a digital asset unit in 2022. Cowen wound the service down in June 2023 following an acquisition by TD Bank.

Other notable hiring news

  • Nicolas Bertrand stepped down as CEO of the crypto custody firm under the Japanese investment bank Nomura.
  • Adrien Treccani departed from his role as CEO of Metaco, a crypto custody firm owned by Ripple.

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