Tech Giants Losing Talent to Blockchain—Polychain CEO

July 14, 2018, 2:10 PM UTC

Facebook and Google offer lavish perks to keep their employees happy, but there’s one thing they can’t provide: the chance to work on cool cryptocurrency projects. That’s why top talent is leaving in droves.

This is the view of Olaf Carlson-Wee, a prominent crypto figure, who was employee number 3 at Coinbase, and now runs Polychain Capital, the country’s biggest crypto investment fund.

“What we’re seeing is an absolute exodus from many of these major tech giants like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Snapchat of really high quality talent who are now starting cryptocurrency startups,” said Carlson-Wee, who based the assertion on recent encounters in the Bay Area.

Carlson-Wee shared this and other observations about the cryptocurrency world when he stopped by The Ledger this week. (You can hear them in the video above).

One of his insights is about the health of the cryptocurrency space, which has been a source of despair for many investors since prices crashed last December. According to Carlson-Wee, current prices are a poor metric.

“What I pay attention to is not the month-to-month market prices of assets but developer momentum around building novel applications,” he said, adding that the current developer enthusiasm—measured by things like GitHub repositories and forking projects—is unprecedented.

Carlson-Wee, whose fund has reported over $1 billion in assets under management, also believes the future is particularly bright in light of recent technologies that make it easier to develop blockchain architecture. As examples, he cites a project known as Dfinity that aspires to make blockchains interoperable, and a tool called a WASM compiler that lets developers build blockchains with familiar programming languages.

These new tools, he says, could see the number of people working on blockchain increase ten-fold. He also hails the field as one built by outsiders rather than high profile tech and banking figures.

“The best stuff is being built by people who sound deeply unqualified to be doing what they’re doing.”

Carlson-Wee is hardly unbiased of course—he has been a true believer in bitcoin since the beginning, and at one point spent years living on cryptocurrency. But his enthusiasm is infectious and his knowledge as deep as anyone else in the crypto world. In the video above, you can also hear his thoughts on the controversy over Tezos, of which he’s a board member, and a new project known as PolkaDot.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the amount of assets under management of Polychain Capital. The fund has reported over $1 billion in assets under management, not $100 million.