Employees Burned by FTX Enter a Tightening Market: Latest in Crypto Hiring

Headhunter says many employees impacted by recent crypto chaos wish to stay in the segment

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With crypto exchange FTX filing for bankruptcy last week and other large industry players — such as BlockFi, Genesis and Gemini — enduring shockwaves of the collapse, talent is flooding the space but chasing a dwindling number of spots.

Crypto doesn’t have enough positions for all the people in the segment who have lost their jobs, WorkInCrypto.Global founder Sam Wellalage told Blockworks. 

Despite that, Wellalage said based on meetings he had at the TOKEN2049 conference in London last week, plenty of companies are still hiring. 

“All my 300 business cards were taken by companies and candidates,” he said. “It is wild. We expect to be very busy.”

Ex-FTX staff in the lurch

FTX employees have begun or are looking to scatter following the exchange filing for bankruptcy last week, and the Wall Street Journal Tuesday reported that BlockFi was planning staff cuts as it considers initiating Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

“A lot of the trust I have placed in society has vanished,” a recent employee of FTX told Blockworks in a message. “I still need time to process everything.”

Wellalage said Tuesday he had so far spoken to seven candidates that day from companies including FTX and BlockFi. He has mostly talked with marketing and business development employees, he said, as he seeks to help a Dubai-based crypto exchange fill open roles. 

“They all want to stay in Web3, which is surprising,” Wellalage said of the crypto employees he has spoken to. “One of the key themes is that everyone thinks everything happening in the industry is [ultimately] for good.”

In addition to the collapse of FTX and others who are struggling as a result of exposure to the exchange, the broader crypto downturn in recent months has forced many crypto companies to cut headcount. 

Valkyrie Investments concluded a 30% cut to its staff that started in June, shrinking the crypto ETF issuer’s headcount to 16 people, CEO Leah Wald told Blockworks Tuesday. 

Competing issuers of ETPs, such as 21Shares and CoinShares, have not cut staff and don’t plan to, spokespeople for the firms said. CoinShares looks to maintain its staff levels despite the company’s exposure to FTX amounting to roughly $30 million.

Nearly 4,700 people have been laid off in the cryptocurrency sector between Jan. 1 and Nov. 13, according to a CoinGecko report — representing about 4% of tech layoffs over that span.

Wintermute sends message to crypto talent

“Though layoffs are happening there are a ton of companies still growing right now,” Emily Landon, CEO of The Crypto Recruiters told Blockworks. “The bear market is for building! Companies may not be advertising their jobs, which is why networking is so important.”

Among those looking to boost headcount in the aftermath of FTX’s crash is crypto market maker Wintermute. The company said in a blog post this week that it was doubling down on its crypto conviction, in part by looking to hire. Open roles include positions in software development, algorithmic trading and business operations. 

The company, which encountered a $160 million breach in its DeFi operations in September, doesn’t have a set number of people it is looking to add, a spokesperson told Blockworks. 

“It depends [on] the number of matches we find and we are open in some cases to create roles for exceptional people,” the representative said in an email. “We know many strong and determined people in the industry. Many of them lost their jobs because of insolvencies, layoffs and financial difficulties of former employers.”

Other firms onboarding amid crypto chaos

Georgetown University computer science professor Justin Thaler joined a16z’s crypto research team. 

The venture capital firm raised $4.5 billion in May for its fourth crypto fund, bringing its total funds raised to more than $7.6 billion.

Thaler is set to be an in-house resource for portfolio companies and help the team advance the lab’s research and evaluation of zero-knowledge-based projects.

Tim Roughgarden, a research partner at a16z, said in a statement that it has been exciting to see Thaler in recent years move from the theoretical foundations of proof systems to their applications in blockchains and web3.  

“This technology is rooted in some of the deepest mathematical results in all of computer science, and Justin’s understanding of it is second to none,” he added. 

Crypto trading technology provider Talos added Josh Peschko as head of compliance and Alex Abedine as vice president of regulatory.

The hires came at the same time the company said it was joining the Blockchain Association, a lobbying group focused on improving the public policy environment for crypto networks. 

Prior to Talos, Peschko worked at AQR Capital Management, where he was most recently global head of trading and investment compliance. Before that, he was in a risk management monitoring position at JPMorgan. 

Abedine was formerly senior product counsel at Coinbase, and was also previously a lead product counsel at Meta Platforms — advising on Instagram’s NFT marketplace, the expansion of Facebook Payments, and the launch of the Novi digital wallet and Diem digital currency. 

Crypto exchange OKX named Nicole Purin its deputy general counsel, as the lawyer moves from her traditional finance roots into the world of Web3.

Based in Dubai, Purin joins OKX from Standard Chartered Bank, where she was senior legal counsel of financial markets for Africa and the Middle East.

Purin, who specializes in derivatives, structured finance, capital markets and securitization transactions, has also held roles at BNP Paribas, Mayer Brown and Goldman Sachs.

Moonstake has nabbed the former head of marketing operations at crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX to be its chief marketing officer.

Pietro Curto, who spent about a year at BitMEX and nearly two years before that as a director at Markor Technology, is set to help the staking service provider grow. 

Curto called Moonstake’s mission to create the largest staking pool in Asia, while also lowering the barrier of entry into the crypto market for beginners, is “an ambitious one.” 

“I am confident that together, we will realize all of these ambitions and become a trusted and widely recommended platform for crypto users of any experience level,” he said in a statement.

Updated Nov. 20, 2022 at 5:01 pm ET: A previous version of this article stated that a member of FTX’s Global Payments team had removed his LinkedIn profile. This was based on a misunderstanding and was incorrect.


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