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Why Sports Sponsorships Are CRUCIAL For Crypto

Prepared by Aaron Harrison
Posted April 19, 2022

Sports sponsorships from companies looking to increase their visibility has been a lucrative investment ever since Michael Jordan stepped onto the court in his Air Jordan’s in 1985.

You cannot watch any sport without being bombarded with adverts from soft drinks to credit cards.

And it’s easy to see why it’s so popular:

If you want a guaranteed growth model, you don’t look for new money opportunities. You just find where the existing big money is already going.

Then add more to it.

If there’s one thing that the crypto space isn’t lacking, it’s money.

This is why crypto sponsorships in sports is only going to grow in the coming years.

At the moment, there are three main areas where crypto will intersect with sports:

  • Sponsorships
  • NFTs
  • Metaverse

Our team at Plexus has combed through some of the leading research to shed some light on one of the biggest emerging crypto trends of 2021-2022. NFTs, the metaverse, tokens – the combination of crypto and sports has it all.

(On a side note: We recently released a State of Crypto Hiring Report which talks about salaries, in-demand skills and the growth of solidity, rust & NFTs; you can download that here.)

It’s all heading to a potentially multi-billion-dollar market.

Let’s jump in.

Crypto brands are snapping up whatever they can get their hands on

“Crypto is not just another shoe.”

For Steven Kalifowitz, CMO of Crypto.comcrypto sponsorships exist in a different league than apparel deals.

So far, he’s not wrong.

That quote came in the midst of a big run of sports sponsorships for the Singapore-based crypto exchange, including AFL and AFWL teams in Australia and NHL teams in Canada. The string of sponsorships was headlined by one of the biggest stadium sponsorship deals in sports history: renaming the Staples Center, home to the L.A. Kings, to the Crypto.com Arena.

That was a 20-year, $700 million deal, and it cemented just how big crypto sponsorships can be.

Following a boom year in 2021, and meteoric growth before that, crypto companies that are flush with cash are finding ways to spend it. And while the immediate goal is obviously to boost the profile of individual companies, the side effect is to raise awareness of the crypto world more broadly.

coinmarketcap.com

news.crunchbase.com

This may have created a little fomo for some other brands:

FTX purchased the rights to the Miami Heat stadium, now FTX Arena. That one was a bit of a bargain at only $135 million for 19 years; someone got a deal, apparently.

Beyond NBA stadiums, there’s a laundry list of sports sponsorship already underway:

  • UFC and Crypto.com
  • MLB and FTX
  • Rugby and Luno
  • Socios and European Football
  • Manchester United & Tezos
  • Manchester City & OKX

Individual players are getting in on the game as well – most notably the king himself, LeBron James, working with Crypto.com.

So for the average crypto investor, there’s a couple of questions worth asking:

What other ways are the crypto and sports worlds coming together?

And just how much money is at stake?

The NFT model is a collectors dream

We know – the “NFTs had a big year in 2021” angle is a bit overdone. It’s still worth a quick reminder of just how quickly the NFT market sector grew:

finance.yahoo.com

Sports sponsorships are typically long-term deals and the idea is nothing new. Companies have been sponsoring teams and athletes for decades.

But NFTs in sports have the potential to be little short of revolutionary.

Take a recent report from Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC), which highlighted the number of ways NFTs are already making an impact – or are poised to. Those include:

  • Collectables
  • Season Ticket Holders
  • Virtual Access Tokens

Sports collectables are still dominated by cards – baseball cards, American football cards, NBA player cards, etc. The total sports collectible market exceeded $4 billion by itself in 2021, with expected annual growth of roughly 10% for the next decade.

What if even a quarter of the current demand for player cards was replaced with NFTs? Players could mint their own series, each slightly different in appearance and cryptographically unique.

The NFT holder has something verifiably unique with all the transaction history recorded on-chain; no worries about damaged or destroyed cards.

Season tickets would be even easier to integrate. Some real-world events, like Coachella, have already begun to experiment with limited-edition NFTs that serve as access passes and special tickets. Leagues and teams could follow suit, issuing a set number each year.

Following the Coachella model, season ticket NFTs could also function as virtual access tokens. Holders would not only gain season ticket holder status, but would also gain an invite to special events, player meet-and-greets, and a number of other perks.

Given how expensive such experiences can be in real life, the potential value of such NFTs could potentially be immense.

How immense? Hard to tell – but there’s only one of the Coachella Keys currently available on Coachella’s native marketplace. It sold for over $100k originally, and now the holder is looking for a cool $1 million.


Sports in the metaverse

All of the NFT aspects – collectable, season ticket, and access pass – come together in the metaverse.

Imagine an NFT bearing the image of an MVP candidate.

That card updates after each game with player stats, becoming a complete year-long record of their performance at the end of the year. Holders of a particular series of cards get access to player-specific press conferences or meet-and-greets, and the first issue of each player’s NFT card series (or a specified number, or maybe a team-specific NFT instead of player-specific) also functions as a season pass.

Add in the metaverse. A player card, displaying a particular image, could be used to decorate a space in the metaverse. Team cards could grant access to a team-branded lounge in the metaverse, or perhaps to a special arena. There could even be metaverse-based training and signing days, allowing fans to interact with the stars of tomorrow.

It’s already starting to happen; Snapchat recently released a filter transporting viewers to Lebron James’s childhood bedroom – in the metaverse. The filter references a Super Bowl ad which featured James, integrating today’s star speaking to his past self.

The ad blended AR tech and Solana’s Portal metaverse to produce something unique.

This isn’t just a flash in the pan

Where do we go from here?

Crypto sports sponsorships aren’t going anywhere. That Crypto.com Arena? 20-year deal. FTX Arena? 19 years.

With Steph Curry jumping in on NFTs and LeBron James carrying the crypto torch, we’re only at the beginning of the crypto/sports tie-ins.

And if collectables alone are a $4 billion market, how much will sponsorships plus collectables plus NFTs be?

Aaron Harrison
Connect with me: Here’s my LinkedIn, telegram AaronPlexus and email.

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The Russia SWIFT ban and how it will impact crypto

Posted March 24, 2022

A few weeks in, we’re now in a position to start analyzing the effect of one of the most dramatic sanctions in recent memory – the Russian SWIFT ban.

More importantly, we’re starting to see how that ban has impacted the crypto world.

But while early hot-takes predicted one thing, the reality is shaping up to be slightly different, with some surprising lessons for crypto investors moving forward.

To get a better grasp on the issue, we’ve broken down the topic into smaller questions:

  • What is the SWIFT ban, and is crypto a potential substitute financially?
  • What are the current economic impacts of the ban?
  • How has the crypto world responded, and what does that say moving forward?

Let’s get to it.

What is SWIFT? Can crypto bypass the ban?

You have money in an account in Bank A. You need it to be in an account in Bank B.

Prior to 1973, when you initiated a transfer, banks would use the TELEX system to describe each transaction, in detail, using sentences.

As expected, TELEX was a bit slow.

In 1973, SWIFT – The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication – replaced the TELEX sentence structure with a code-based system. SWIFT dramatically increased the speed and efficiency of inter-bank transfers, and eventually became the standard system used by banks the world over.

It’s hard to overstate just how expansive the SWIFT system is; it’s currently employed in well over 200 countries, and processes over 5 billion transactions per year. SWIFT isn’t the only system out there – China has a native version, as do other countries  – but it is the industry leader by a wide margin.

The Western-led ban prevented Russian banks from accessing the SWIFT network.

Inter-bank transfers became harder and more expensive, prompting all the hot takes on how Russia could or should turn to crypto networks as a workaround.

But how viable is that solution really?

Could Russia rely on crypto networks instead of SWIFT?

We’re not the only ones asking that question.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that centralised finance worked together to cripple Russia’s monetary system, and that’s got people wondering about over-reliance on PayPal, SWIFT, Visa, Mastercard, and others.

But even without getting too deep into “CeFi vs. DeFi,” it’s one thing to argue against SWIFT et al. It’s entirely another to actually replace those institutions with crypto.

One of the best breakdowns so far comes by way of XRP and Ripple. Here’s some key takeaways from Asheesh Birla, GM of RippleNet:

  • Russia averages $50 billion in foreign exchange daily
  • BTC – the largest crypto network – averages between $20-$50 billion daily liquidity
  • Transfer limits for the ruble on major exchanges are quite low: Coinbase allows a $200k max transfer from RUB/BTC, compared to $3.7 million BTC/USD.

The SWIFT ban highlights the continuing gap between crypto and tradfi in terms of volume. Could Russia use crypto networks as a partial workaround?

Sure, in theory. As a complete substitute? Not currently possible.

It’s also worth noting that Russia’s approach to crypto has previously been…complicated. Crypto payments aren’t entirely legal, and current legislation pending in Russia’s government makes it expressly illegal.

Switching from SWIFT to a crypto-centric system, especially if done so quickly, would require some major regulatory gymnastics.

With all that being said, there are three main current economic impacts:

1. Short-term Russian financial crisis

At this point, the outcome of the SWIFT ban and accompanying sanctions have been little short of devastating for Russia. The Russian stock market fell 39% on the day of sanctions, recovered slightly, and then promptly closed (and has more-or-less stayed closed ever since).

The ruble dived; at time of writing, it was down over 40% against the dollar. Adding in the difficulty of accessing foreign currency reserves (because of the SWIFT ban), and the Russian economy is in shambles.

xe.com

2. Crypto gets caught up in sanctions

What about using crypto payments to get around the ban?

There’s a real question about how much demand there has been for crypto in light of the ban, and we’ll come back to that later.

What’s become abundantly clear is that Western governments and financial institutions expect the crypto ecosystem to enforce the ban on their behalf.

It’s the old, “clean up your own house, or we’ll do it for you” message. That’s why you get ominous press releases like this one from the EU, saying that crypto payments are “clearly” in the realm of sanctions.

3. Increasing inflationary pressure

Check out just a few commodities prices affected by the war, and you’ll see what we mean; here’s a combined chart showing crude oil prices alongside wheat prices.

Russia supplies much of Europe’s oil and natural gas, while Ukraine is a wheat powerhouse, exporting grain all around the world. Russia also exports wheat, and worldwide exports were estimated to drop by 7 million tonnes between the two countries.

tradingeconomics.com

The result of those increased prices is further inflationary pressure around the world.

Those are some of the short-term impacts. But what does the SWIFT ban have to say about the broader crypto ecosystem?

The SWIFT ban highlights crypto’s reliance on traditional finance:

Not the best hedge

Let’s touch on the inflation point again:

US inflation hit 7.9% in February, the highest in years. Most of that was before the Russian invasion got fully off the ground, meaning there’s worse to come when the March data comes out.

tradingeconomics.com

Crypto is meant to act as an inflationary hedge – at least, that’s how the typical crypto head will talk about it.

But does the data back that up?

Let’s start with Bitcoin. Global turmoil, the potential to bypass SWIFT restrictions, and increasing fiat inflation are all factors that should drive BTC higher.

And yet, here’s BTC over the past month: essentially flat.

coinmarketcap.com

Ethereum? Down slightly. Solana? Down a bit more.

It gets even……

The takeaway?

Crypto might be a great hedge against inflation on the individual level, but most people don’t seem to be treating it that way. With trading volumes more or less steady and prices flat or declining, crypto isn’t responding to turmoil as we might have expected.

And that’s despite the fact that the current situation seems tailor-made to see if crypto can replace tradfi on a large scale. Russia hasn’t really even tried to use crypto to bypass the ban, and individuals largely seem to be following suit. Western investors aren’t fleeing crypto, but neither are they pouring money into it.

The upshot? Most ordinary crypto users don’t seem to be treating crypto as an inflationary hedge.

In fact, there’s even more to it than that:

With crypto markets down slightly since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and without a mad rush to pour money into crypto as a hedge against inflation, one conclusion is becoming more and more clear.

Like traditional finance, crypto likes stability

There’s a lot of talk about crypto as the great disruptor. DeFi will grow bigger and bigger, eventually turning institutional finance obsolete. Cryptocurrencies will become dominant, largely replacing fiat currencies. This is a whole new world, powered by the immense potential of crypto.

Instead, what we’re seeing is a new and improved system that operates in many ways very similarly to the old one. Investors prefer a stable trading environment, and governments expect compliance with their rules.

That’s probably the clearest outcome of the SWIFT ban: making clear to all that the crypto world is still largely centralised.

The crypto ecosystem is still dependent on tradfi as an on/off ramp. The two systems are joined at the hip.

Banning access to one system (the SWIFT ban) doesn’t result in huge demand for the other. They work together, not as opposites.

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The HUGE growth of the solidity developer salary in 2022

Prepared by William Hogan
Posted March 8, 2022

This will come as no surprise to anybody familiar with the crypto space…

…but the solidity developer salary has EXPLODED over the past 12 months.

And to be fair:

You could run a generic “[insert crypto-related buzzword] EXPLODED in 2021″ headline for any number of articles, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

NFTs, the Solana blockchain, Layer 1 altchains in general, DAOs, the list goes on. All of those areas did see dramatic growth and success over the course of the year, and most of them seem set to continue into 2022.

But we have a very unique insight into the Web3 space at Plexus: because we help scale and grow Web3, crypto and blockchain companies. Every. Single. Day.

We’re able to spot hiring and growth trends early on and provide actionable insight on it. Like this article we published chronicling the noticeable uptick in the use of the Rust programming language, seen in the rise in demand (and pay!) for Rust programmers.

Companies like VoltzBlockswapEnso FinanceDapper LabsSpectral Finance and Stader Labs have had huge pushes for solidity developers recently. Solidity is following a familiar hiring pattern that a lot of other languages have, and we wanted to find out why.

(On a side note: We recently released a State of Crypto Hiring Report which talks about salaries, in-demand skills and the growth of solidity, rust & NFTs; you can download that here.)

In this article you’ll find out why the solidity developer salary has exploded over the past 12 months.

Let’s get into it:

 

Solidity has had a slow, but steady rise in popularity.

You can see small upticks going back into the final quarter of 2020, but the real jump hits in April 2021 and continues for most of the year.

There’s an obvious winter lull in the pattern – notice December’s equally low numbers for both years. That’s more an artifact of seasonal hiring patterns than anything else. Anecdotally, we’re seeing a continued demand for solidity devs into 2022.

Take a broader look, and the same pattern appears elsewhere.

Google Trends shows roughly corresponding trends in search patterns for solidity-related keywords.

Here’s the chart for “solidity developer”:

Same thing for “solidity developer jobs” (you can also see solidity developer jobs here)

And again for “solidity developer salary”:

Search volume differs, but the broad pattern is the same – there was a spike back in 2017/2018, then interest appears to have fallen off, only to rebound in recent months and jump to new levels.

This increased search volume has had a direct and clear impact:


The ceiling of solidity salaries is much higher.

We’ll dig a bit more into the “why” of these trends shortly. One of them, at least, is easy to explain:

Increased searches for “solidity developer salary” can be at least partially attributed to an increase in those salaries.

In other words: follow the money!

itjobswatch.co.uk

According to itjobswatch.co.uk, the median compensation for solidity devs is just north of £80,000 per year (that’s a hair under $110k USD).

Those figures are roughly in line with our own info.

Data taken from the State of Crypto Hiring Report 2022

In fact, it correlates nearly exactly with what we’re seeing with junior-level developers. In 2021, those salaries ranged between 70k-110k, up 3% from the previous year.

(It’s worth remembering that the first chart shows a median, not an average, meaning there are an equal weight of salaries above and below that $110k line).

Our data backs that up as well:

The solidity developers with the biggest gains in 2021 weren’t the junior-level devs, but senior and principal developers. Those groups saw increases of 6% and 13%, respectively.

That’s a crazy percentage increase for just one year.

The average salary increase for junior solidity devs hasn’t kept pace with senior and principal for a couple of reasons:

1. Junior developers are so eager to start their journey in crypto, that they’re willing to take less to get their foot in the door (the crypto space is very, very enticing right now).
2. Start-ups are a huge percentage of the companies coming out of the crypto space right now, and they’re less likely to hire juniors (although this trend is beginning to change).

Here’s one final look at the data:

itjobswatch.co.uk

The chart is in GBP; notice the number of jobs above the 80k median. The range goes up to £170k per year, typically for principal developers.

Salaries aren’t the only thing that have increased, although:


There’s WAY more opportunities too.

The increase in pay is no mystery; there’s more demand – and more opportunities – for experienced developers than ever.

We looked at our internal data, and the number of job postings requiring solidity experience increased 8% in 2021, to nearly a quarter of all postings (you can see that report here).

Again, other data confirms this:

For the six-month period that ended in February, 2021 saw 17 permanent jobs citing solidity. For the same period in 2020, there were 9 jobs.

In 2022, that six-month period saw 149 jobs, over 9 times the previous period. In the UK alone, jobs that cited solidity experience increased dramatically as a percentage of all available jobs.

On LinkedIn you’ll find thousands of jobs that require solidity experience. A little digging shows that many of those jobs have only a handful of applicants, at least through LinkedIn’s in-house application system.

Which is why passive candidates are so crucial to engage with.

Solidity salaries have seen a big increase, no doubt. But you can go one step further:


Concentrated skill sets is where the real money is.

With ever-growing number of jobs and a fairly well-developed learning base (more on that shortly), it’s a bit surprising that there aren’t more solidity devs around.

Two factors seem to be playing a role here:

First, solidity is young. It only debuted under a decade ago, hardly enough time to develop (pun intended) an expansive base of users and programmers. Plus, like Ethereum itself, solidity isn’t the only game in town. Young, up-and-coming programmers might be tempted to focus on other languages with booming Web3 applications, such as Rust.

Second, the Web3 space as a whole is short on devs. A recent developer report from Electric Capital highlighted the discrepancy; there are over 2500 developers in the Web3 space. Of those, fewer than half – around 1000 developers – control projects with over $100 billion in total value locked (TVL).

That concentration indicates the sheer amount of money flowing into key projects, and the corresponding demand for developers with advanced skills in smart contract languages.

It also puts some of the compensation into perspective.

One detail will ensure the stable growth of solidity:


The well-established learning curve is a HUGE factor.

One of solidity’s strengths lies in a well-established learning curve.

Would-be programmers can start with the main solidity site, reinforced by further resources at the solidity GitHub. The solidity learning economy includes sites like CryptoZombies.io, where programmers build crypto games while learning the language. Beyond simple gamification, this allows developers to practice using smart contracts in a real-world use case – i.e., crypto gaming.

In short, there’s an easy on-ramp for the language that powers much of the smart-contract world.

That’s a pretty solid point in solidity’s favour.

This easy on-ramp means sustained growth and adoption of the language itself – but how will this impact salaries?

Short answer: They’ll level out.

We won’t be seeing the big 6% & 13% increases year-on-year increases that we have over the past 12 months. That type of growth simply is unsustainable.

Which is what makes this current Web3 market so appealing to developers.

Although, there are many branches of the Web3 space that developers will be able to specialise in:


Smart contracts use cases are almost infinite.

Ethereum smart contracts power the DeFi world, and as more and more projects enter that space, demand for experienced solidity devs goes up. Solidity smart contracts are also deployable on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, covering the entire Ethereum ecosystem.

Because solidity is the language of EVM-based smart contracts, use cases are as broad as smart contracts themselves. That’s more than just DeFi – crypto games and the whole broad world of Web3 all rely on smart contracts.

Unless EVM-based DeFi projects fade considerably, there doesn’t seem to be much chance that solidity will fall off anytime soon.

There’s an incredibly active community behind the language, with regular updates and releases every few weeks to correct flaws and improve usability.

Solidity is a high-level language, using letters and numbers rather than a simple binary code. While this can complicate security, it also makes the language easier to understand and work with.

Of course, there’s another big reason to feel bullish about solidity – especially if you’re already skilled with the language:


Developers can deploy smart contracts to generate tokens.

Solidity’s appeal is more than just “it works on Ethereum.”

As a high-level, project-oriented programming language, solidity brings a number of benefits to the table. It’s a more recent language, but one that shares similarities with a number of older languages, including Javascript.

Using solidity, developers can deploy smart contracts to generate tokens, making it ideal for projects with native tokens. And of course, the use of the EVM positions solidity as an integral part of the emerging world of smart contracts.

With more solidity jobs available, and higher pay at those jobs, solidity devs are in a good position going forward.

I love helping teams grow, and this is an exciting time for us all to work in the Web3 space.

 

William Hogan
Hello! I specialise in scaling web3-native projects. I love hearing what you’re building and I keep an ear close to the ground. If you have an interesting project, I’ll have an engineer for you…let’s chat! Here’s my LinkedIn, telegram wogan.eth and email.

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2 Ways to Retain Talent After The Vesting Period

Prepared by Hannah Brayshaw
Posted September 6, 2021

The best developers are people who love to build, create and are always looking for the next big mountain to climb.

I think you’ll agree:

An engaged developer is much more likely to stay with your company and become an advocate for the product/service you’re building…

…but what happens when V1 of the protocol or service has been delivered?

It’s often the case that there will only be incremental updates after the main protocol has been delivered. The big task has been completed, and it’s just a case of optimising and improving UX/UI.

When this happens, developers and engineers can lose motivation. They’re always wanting to tackle the next big obstacle, not just improve on what they’ve already created.

svitla.com

­We’ve worked with hundreds of Blockchain and Crypto companies since our inception in 2017, and they’re all well aware that this loss of inspiration is a very real possibility; some have detailed strategies to keep developers and engineers engaged, others believe that the vision of the company is enough to keep people.

For this article we spoke to companies like Swarm MarketsDialectic AG & Dapper Labs and we found that:

There is a pretty common way to encourage employees to stay with the company for a set amount  of time though:

Vesting periods.

They are a great way to encourage people to stay at the company and help it be as successful as possible…

…but how do you keep people past the end of their vesting period?

Today you’ll find out from both companies and employees how you can keep the spark alive past a vesting period.

Here we go:


Identifying motivators from the start is essential

Here’s a simple question you can ask yourself to determine whether somebody will stay with the company past their vesting period:

“Do they believe in the project, and are they excited about it?”

This simple yet important factor will often influence somebodies decision to stay or leave past the vesting period. If they truly believe what they’re building will change the world for the better, chances are they’re going to continue to work on it.

But the reality is:

Motivations for people change (whether that’s due to internal or external factors). One smart contract developer outlined how their motivators change as a project grows:

“I think they [motivations] change because as you complete tasks and they are (hopefully) received well, you’re more likely to stay there and happily continue to do your job because you know it’s being appreciated by the company.

If the project is just chugging along though and all the instructions are coming from the top-down (build this, do this, fix this etc), eventually the things you want to do won’t get done, and your motivations will change. You start questioning if you’re just there for the money and maybe start exploring other options.”

A lot of developers thrive off of big challenges, and if there simply aren’t many big challenges to complete anymore, then perhaps they’ll look elsewhere for those meaningful tasks.

Alessandro Buser, Lead Blockchain Engineer at Dialectic AG shared his view on people believing in the project:

“I think it depends on the people and the project; if you’re just doing the project for the tokens, then sure people may leave once the tokens are distributed. Ideally, you hire people that are in it for the long-term and are actually excited about the project. In that case, I wouldn’t think that people leave after the launch.”

The question then becomes…

…how do you truly know if somebody is excited by the project?

Good developers in the Blockchain, Crypto and DeFi space are ALWAYS in high demand and they have no shortage of employment options at their fingertips. So keeping them excited about your project is crucial.

codemotion.com

Jerome Pimmel, Engineering Manager at Dapper Labs spoke to us on his thought process:

“Our people get about 10 outreach messages every day from companies looking for smart contract engineers, but when they’re already working for a company whose mission is big, ambitious and multi-year, you get people believing in it, and your retention rate will be higher.

We do stay on top of it, but we don’t see it as a critical risk for the company at this stage, because of the brand that’s been built. I think that’s the key thing, if you build a good internal brand and build a strong team (and your business has incredibly positive potential for the future), that’s your natural retainer for people to prevent people from moving on.”

There’s really no way you can fake this as a company in the long run.

Either somebody believes in the company vision and they want to continue to build it, or they’ll see out the vesting period and start to look at other opportunities.

And that second scenario leads me to a whole other set of questioning:


What is the objective of a vesting period?

At the very base level, a vesting period gives an employee another reason to want the company to succeed, a sense of ownership and a financial reason not to leave the company (within the vesting period).

Vesting is also used in token allocation to stop everybody selling at once and crashing the price.

So if somebody was to see out the vesting period, sell their tokens and then look for another role…surely the vesting period has had the desired impact?

It’s motivated that person to stay with the company for X amount of years and ensured tokens don’t get sold right away.

I guess the real question here is:

How important is token allocation to developers when they’re considering employment opportunities?

We spoke to one smart contract developer who gave us some interesting insight:

“It’s important to know that you have some stake in it. To me, the allocation doesn’t matter as much as the relative allocation in respect to other people. If you’re getting x amount, you want to see that fairly distributed compared a person who came in after you, or is in a lower position. You want to see the output you’re giving having an equal return for you.”

This line of thinking is often observed in companies: People want to be fairly represented for their output. Whether that be the salary, benefits or token allocation.

Philipp Pieper, Co-Founder at Swarm Markets verbalised the unique situation a lot Blockchain and Crypto companies find themselves in:

“The summer of Defi has seen the emergency of this category of Blockchain technology thrown into public consciousness. Finding developers and reliable engineers has never been so important, especially as platforms start to increasingly work within regulatory frameworks and parameters.

When ‘payment’ becomes less relevant, ‘purpose’ moves into focus. Talent engages in projects they believe in and where they see their abilities best leveraged to have the highest impact. The industry is evolving to think more long term and projects need employees who share in their vision. Therefore, employment packages must evolve to include a combination of attractive salary, equity, perks, but equally attractive use cases based on interesting technologies, if they are to attract top talent.

Packages for engineers in the blockchain world will evolve to mirror those typically enjoyed in tech roles within traditional financial services.”

So as DeFi (and Blockchain) in general becomes more and more popular, the differentiating factor becomes less about money, and more about the purpose of the company.

Which is something we’ve already touched earlier in the article.


Continuous innovation motivates developers and engineers

This should come as no surprise, but people will often leave companies when they feel their role has stagnated.

A smart contract developer we spoke to echoed this statement:

“I guess if the company is willing to treat every new release as a blank slate in which to innovate, to me, that’s motivating because it feels like you’re in a start-up and you’re tackling new problems.

If the company just makes incremental changes all the time, then it can get a little boring because you’ve solved all the hard problems already, and now you’re just trying to tick off all the easy problems.”

This lines up nicely when we spoke about the best developers always wanting to be challenged and pushed to produce their best work.

Motivating talent to stay at a company past the vesting period was a topic we were really interested in exploring at our London office.

We have heard time and time again from developers that they’re waiting to see our their vesting period and then they’re going to start looking for new opportunities.

We wanted to see what companies could do to change this and keep people at their company for longer…

…but it seems like the answers we came across were pretty simple.

Firstly, developers LOVE to be challenged and always pushing the boundaries, so if V1 of your service/protocol will be delivered and then only incremental updates after that, you can probably expect to lose a few people.

Although, with that being said:

A clear vision for the company can help attract the people that truly believe in the mission, which will motivate them to stay past the vesting period.

 

Hannah Brayshaw
Hey! I work with cryptocurrency and DeFi start ups, focusing on building teams in this high growth market. Connect with me directly on LinkedIn to see more content just like this.

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Managing Crypto Start-Up Funds (In A Bear Market)

Prepared by Euan Wilson
Posted August 3, 2021

It’s no secret that:

A bear market in crypto causes price declines, reduced trading activity, more reserved investment and less confidence in the space.

It’s easy to see the impact on your portfolio…

…but what happens to the funding of a crypto start-up, protocol or business when a crypto bear market hits?

And what steps can you take to protect yourself, or even thrive as a business in a crypto bear market?

(We also recently produced a report on how you can build a DeFi team and what’s changed in the last 12 months, which you can read here).

We worked with a variety of Blockchain & Crypto companies through the 2018 bear market, and saw a lot of talented people struggle to replicate the success they’d had through the bull market.

We really wanted to know how companies are going to learn from other’s mistakes and operate differently this time round.

So, we went to market and spoke with companies like Panther ProtocolBumperStandard ProtocolLiqualityFaculty GroupCoinBurpTeller FinanceEuler XYZ & Maple Finance to extract valuable information you won’t find anywhere else.

They have some pretty fascinating ways of managing funds in a bear market.

Companies consulted for our research

Some factor in bear markets from the start, others like to go big in a bull market and then reassess once a bear market comes along.

Today you’ll find out how companies of varying sizes and maturity plan to manage their funds in a bear market.

Let’s get right into it:


The currency of your treasury indicates your overall strategy

We asked all of the companies included in our research what currency they raised their capital in, and what currency they keep their treasury in (crypto, stablecoins or fiat).

There was one solid insight we got from this question:

No two companies have the same strategy.

Some raised in stablecoins and stayed in stablecoins, some have a 50/50 split between stablecoins and eth, others have a mixture of crypto, fiat and stablecoins.

In the ICO days, a lot of companies raised in eth and stayed in eth, which proved to be a costly decision for many.

Ryan Berkun, Founder & CEO at Teller Finance said that their treasury is mainly in fiat and some eth, but others told us they chose to have their treasury made up of only stablecoins.

Treasury holding options

There was one thing that stood out, though:

We noticed that the amount of crypto being held in a treasury correlates closely with the risks willing to be taken by the company.

And this is where it gets interesting:

Jonathan DeCarteret, CEO at Bumper explained how the 2018 bear market influenced them to closely manage their treasury:

“I think we learned the hard way in crypto (we started in 2017) that you have to give real careful consideration to the treasury management. We were caught a little bit in that first business in the sense that the market was going down a little, and the treasury was going down with it. We thankfully realised it in time, but you need to be active in the management of your treasury – you can’t just hold it in the way it comes in.

We have our treasury spread across a portfolio with varying risks and yields.”

Learning from other people’s mistakes is a theme which came up often in or research.

Philipp Zimmerer, Strategy at Faculty Group spoke to us on why their treasury is split 50/50 between crypto and stablecoins:

“Another factor that plays into this is that DeFi exists, so being in stablecoins does not mean you are idle. DeFi allows you to get really good returns on your stablecoins compared to traditional finance and traditional investments. Being in stablecoins is not that much of an opportunity cost as it was in previous years.”

Philipp raises a good point about stablecoins being the best of both worlds in a sense – you get flexibility, security and really good returns.

There was a whole range of answers to this question, and quite literally no two answers have been the same.

The currencies that your treasury is in really comes down to how bold you want to be.

But does a company strategy change with the market?


Your business strategy doesn’t have to adapt to the bear market

A company strategy will naturally evolve and shift over time, but should you have a distinguished strategy for a bull or bear market?

It’s very difficult to predict how long a bear market will last, but it’s clear to us that where we are right now is very different to 2018. It’s easy to see that the quality of projects being funded are of a much higher standard.

Peter Wood, CEO at CoinBurp shared a similar belief:

“The difference is that the quality of projects are a lot stronger and there is a lot more due diligence that happens with fundraising. The companies that raise capital now have a much stronger footing and there is a lot more regulation around to keep investments safe. I would say it seems to be harder to raise money now.”

There seems to be two different schools of thought on this challenge: stick to your business plan no matter what and design it to work in a bull or bear market, or reduce spend in a bear market, but go hard at it in a bull market.

Michael Bentley, CEO at Euler XYZ gave us a short insight into the approach his team takes:

“Our baseline strategy is for a bear market and our philosophy has always been that we work as if we’re in a bear market. Although, one problem we’ve had is finding the right people; the market just seems to be sucking up good people.”

A pragmatic approach like this allows a company to be hyper focused on performing under any conditions; this kind of resilience communicates to employees, investors and competitors that you’re here to stay and you’re here to build an amazing product.

This being said:

Your overall strategy may not deviate too much, but the way you raise can shift dramatically depending on the market.

Ramadan Ameen, Head of Operations & Finance at Panther Protocol explained how their approach to raising changed with the market:

“We were aware the market was going to change, we were aware our team was strong, and we were aware that the founders had a lot of credibility. As a result, we were able to leverage their credibility and not lean so heavily on Key Influencers (KOLs); they called a few friends (100+) and we were able to raise that way.

In the process of raising we’ve done a couple of things: We’re signalling that we’re here to stay and that’s our value proposition that we wanted to send out to the market. We’ve varied the unlock on our round so that people can’t dump our tokens and need to be committed long-term. As projects step into this bull/bear market, they shouldn’t stop raising, but they need to be raising in a way that is responsible to the team and pre-sale holders, and they need to signal that they’re aware of what is going on in the market and aren’t afraid to make adjustments. Their discussions need to be focused on: What is the best way we can deliver our product, how can we ensure we have a value proposition in the market, and what is the best way we can shift the conversation away from token sales trends and more on implicit value we’re delivering. Just as much as it’s about raising, it’s about branding, delivery and communication by the CEO to the presale participants, so they can talk about the project.”

This type of mindset is one we came across a lot in our research.

Rather than cutting spending on marketing (or any other department) completely, companies may choose to focus their campaigns rather than appealing to a wider audience (and spending more money).

Although, there was one clear takeaway from this question which was shared by all of our participants:

They’ll will continue to work towards building the best product they can.

And to do this, you need the best people. Which is why the next point is so important:


You shouldn’t have to tweak salaries for bull or bear markets

Let me be clear:

Plexus as a company has noticed a huge shift in the attitude towards salaries over the past 12 months.

We’ve also noticed a huge increase in demand for Rust developers, which we investigate in this article.

A lot of our clients come to us with the mindset that to build the best product, you need the best people, and to get the best people, you have to pay them well.

I think it’s safe to say that mentality has been clearly mirrored in the average salaries being offered:

Hired.com

And this got me thinking:

In a market with loads of activity, loads of investment and loads of projects being built, paying people more than your competitors will likely mean you hire the best of the best…

…but what happens in a bear market when things are a little slower?

Companies could easily find themselves with a huge wage bill.

And to add to that:

You may then hire more people with a similar skill level, but find yourself paying them a lot less.

So how do you navigate this situation?

Do you pay everybody with the same skill level the same? Do you pay them at what the market rate was when they joined? Do you renegotiate an employee with a higher salary in a bear market?

We discussed this dilemma at length at Plexus Towers and we couldn’t really come to an agreement on the right approach. Everybody had varying, but valid points.

So we asked our clients who had likely gone through a situation similar to this, and we a received lot of well calculated answers.

One of the most thought-provoking came from Sidney Powell, CEO at Maple Finance. He spoke to us about what impact lowering current employees salary based on the market can have:

“I would say it’s really important to maintain trust within your team – you’re going to seem very mercenary if you go and renegotiate people back down by meaningful amounts. I would say avoid those conversations if you can. That being said, if somebody who is very highly paid is underperforming, you might consider a renegotiation, or replacing such a person if you felt the inbound talent squared up pretty well.

As a first principle, I would always avoid it because I think it kills trust, and then secondly, I think if you’re going to apply wage cuts, it should really be shared across the whole team rather than singling out particular people. I think it just destroys trust and promotes resentment in a team.”

Sidney then considered a third option:

“For most protocols, you have an option where if you’re short on stablecoins, but you’re sitting on a large treasury of tokens, you could always skew a lower cash salary, and a higher token equity component.”

This wasn’t the first time this strategy was mentioned to us. Hyungsuk Kang, CTO at Standard Protocol told us that in a very specific landscape, there’s a possibility that a higher percentage of tokens would be offered that offset the stablecoin percentage

The management of funds for a crypto start-up is a topic which was discussed heavily in our office in the run up to the research portion of this article.

We’ve seen first-hand the slow but steady increase of salaries for in-demand languages like Solidity and Rust, and we really wanted to dig deep to uncover how sustainable these salaries are.

The strategy and tactics of companies in a bull vs bear market is something which really captured our interest too.

It’s difficult to say what strategy is best for the management of funds; if you want to play it safe, you’ll probably want to keep it all in stablecoins with some yield farming, but if you want to try and maximise your assets, you would probably hold some in something a little more volatile like eth.

One thing was clear though:

It doesn’t matter what type of market we’re in, companies are committed to building the best product they can.

Building the best product will allow you to secure funding easier, attract the best employees and allow you the thrive once the market picks up.

 

Euan Wilson
Hey! I spend my time working with DeFi Scale Ups and focus on Crypto & Web3. Connect with me directly on LinkedIn to see more content just like this.

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Demand For Rust Has Skyrocketed: What Role Has Polkadot Played?

Prepared by Dominic Lang
Posted May 18, 2021

I’ve noticed something pretty interesting over the past 6 months…

…demand for Rust developers and the Rust programming language has gone through the ROOF.

Which really peaked my interest.

The Rust coding language first started to appear in 2010; while it’s quite a new language, it has been around for some time. So why has the boom seemed to have happened in the past 6 months?

Funding a crypto start-up has dramatically changed this year too – we investigated how crypto start-ups manage their funds in this article.

Let’s put this into perspective:

Plexus has seen an increase of 300% for developers with Rust skills in 2021 (so far), compared to the WHOLE of 2020.

Taken from Plexus’ internal data

I wanted to find out exactly what had caused this.

So, we got to work.

We went to the market to find out why so many Blockchain and Crypto companies were looking for developers with Rust experience, and why this demand had come about so recently.

We spoke to companies like Polymatht3rnAnmolDialectic AGDock.ioPanther Protocol and Nym Technologies to get their expert insight on the topic.

On a side note: We recently released a DeFi Hiring Report, which talks about salaries, trending job roles and how long it takes to hire, you can download that here if you think it may provide some value.

In this article you’ll find out if Polkadot has impacted Rust’s growth, why Rust is so sought after and what makes Rust an amazing language for Blockchain and Crypto projects.

Let’s get into it:

 

Why would a Blockchain company choose Rust as their programming language?

One thing was made very clear to me early on:

Developers absolutely LOVE Rust as a programming language (and if you’re a developer looking for a new role, you can find loads at Blockchain and Crypto companies here).

But anyway:

This was one the more memorable quotes from our market research:

“If Rust was a girl, I would’ve married her.”
Furqan Ahmed from Anmol

That tells you all you need to know really. But that’s not all:

The following reasons repeatedly came up when asking decision makers in Blockchain companies why they chose Rust as their primary programming language:

  • Great for security
  • Very functional
  • Super memory safe
  • Tells you in real time if there will be problems
  • The error codes and fixes are well documented

The problem is, there’s way more demand for Rust developers than there is actual Rust developers.

To combat this, we found that it’s quite common for founders and decision makers to bring people onboard and then upskill them in Rust. That’s just how much demand there is for those Rust skills.

Adam Dossa, the CTO at Polymath detailed his experience in upskilling developers internally:

“As we move from an Ethereum focused company to a Substrate focused company, we’ve upskilled existing Solidity Developers internally to learn Rust.

We’ve had a number of developers transition internally, and the feedback we’ve received so far is very positive – there seems to be a real desire to learn Rust at the moment. Developers seem to really enjoy the language. There is a relatively steep learning curve, but there are good resources online to combat that, and we’ve done internal training programs too.”

The willingness for companies like Polymath to hire developers and upskill them in Rust really shows the distance between supply and demand at the moment.

Adam then went on to compare the current state of the Rust market to the Solidity market around 3 years ago, when there was a lot of demand but not a lot of experience.

I thought it was an interesting comparison to make.

Rust demand in the UK by itjobswatch

But that’s not all:

Alessandro Buser, the Lead Blockchain Developer at Dialectic AG detailed exactly why he chose Rust as their main programming language:

“I made that decision on my own; Rust is the language that I’m most familiar with and have the most experience with. On a developer level, it’s a very good language to work with because it’s so enjoyable and very modern.

It also improves a lot on usability; the compiler is very precise in telling you what’s wrong with the code. That allows you as a developer to think more about the code, because all of the basic problems you could make in your code are discovered by the compiler. That removes a lot of the brain power needed for the basic stuff and allows you to think more about the architecture and the code itself.”

That’s a pretty glowing review.

With so many companies making the decision to move to Rust, I wanted to find out what other languages they had considered using:

 

C & Go are the only other languages teams seem to consider

Although GoLang & C++ did come up quite frequently in our research…

…the general feedback we got from Blockchain companies is that they hadn’t seriously considered any other programming language. What they wanted to achieve and the project they were working on ultimately made the decision for them.

Nick Lambert, the CEO at Dock.io talked us through their decision making process:

“For us, it was never a question of whether we were going to use another language instead of Rust, it was more about what Blockchain are we going to develop on? We started out using Ethereum, but it’s hugely congested, hugely expensive, and hugely volatile with its fees.

Ultimately, we decided that Blockchain was not going to be fit for purpose, and we had to pick another one. Parity’s Substrate enables you to build your own Blockchain within their framework and that was exactly what we decided to do.”

The feeling we got from the people in the space was that there really isn’t another option which compares with Rust for Blockchain projects.

Go was mentioned, but the unpredictability of the performance was a concern for the developers.

In direct contrast, speaking to the market really highlighted this:

 

Rust’s security and stability works really well for a Blockchain/Crypto project

We mentioned at the start that it was clear to us that developers LOVE working with Rust as a programming language for Blockchain and Crypto projects.

Nearly everyone we spoke to mentioned that:

  • The performance is great
  • The security is amazing
  • It’s hard to make mistakes

Comments like this were a common theme throughout our research process.

Jacob Kowalewski the CSO at t3rn explained to us what makes Rust such a good language for Blockchain projects:

“In Rust, when I say functional, I mean it’s quite hard to mess it up. It’s robust, functional and makes a lot more sense for building Blockchain products. It’s a language which is really well aligned with the purpose and needs of Blockchain – which is security and stability.”

Security and stability is something which comes up repeatedly when discussing Rust.

Anish Mohammed from Panther Protocol also highlighted the importance of security in smart contracts and DeFi:

“The difference between traditional finance and decentralised finance is the legal contracts that bind the two parties. If a contract fails in traditional finance, you can always go back and make adjustments, but in DeFi, it’s a one way function. Once it’s done, it’s done.

This fact means we have to be really careful in the code that we write, which is why language security is so vital.”

This point really stuck with me.

One of the biggest benefits to smart contracts and DeFi could also cause a lot of problems if not carefully constructed and managed well. There’s no edits, amendments or adjustments you can make once the smart contract has been deployed.

This is why Rust is built to highlight any errors at the source.

Dave Hrycyszyn, the CTO at Nym Technologies put the benefits to us frankly:

“Most other languages allow you to write code that fails spectacularly, the program will still run, but it will fail at the user end. Rust enforces a bunch of guarantees in the language itself, and tells you what to do and what not to do.

It also has the best WebAssembly support out of any of the languages.”

This was not the first time WebAssembly had been brought up.

A lot of the time, smart contracts are executed in WebAssembly, and as the smart contract space continues to grow, it’s only natural that Rust follows that upwards trend.

But the question still begs:

 

Is the rise of Polkadot the reason for Rust’s growth?

The thoughts on this were pretty split down the middle.

My colleague William Hogan actually put out a poll on LinkedIn to see what his network thought:

William Hogan on LinkedIn

That gives you a pretty good idea on the general consensus of William’s network.

The initial thoughts from the majority of our office was that yes, the rise in popularity of Polkadot has resulted in more demand for developers with Rust skills.

But it seems to be a little more complicated than that.

It’s important to point out our knee jerk reaction may very well have been biased. We work exclusively in the Blockchain space, so naturally our knowledge of Rust outside of Blockchain and Crypto would be reduced.

Speaking to people working with Rust and people hiring Rust developers has given us a clearer view of the reason behind the rise in popularity.

When we asked this question, some people immediately pointed out some of the big tech companies using Rust:

Dropbox, Coursera, Microsoft, Discord and Facebook all use Rust in some capacity.

Amazon also joined the Rust foundation.

So it’s probably safe to say that these huge companies are seeing what Blockchain and Crypto companies are seeing: Rust is a great alternative to C++, but with much better safety guarantees and better performance.

This indicates that the increased demand of Rust isn’t because Polkadot has become more popular, it’s because Rust is simply a great programming language.

Seems like a pretty level headed thought process to me.

But on the other hand:

Jacob Kowalewski, the CSO at t3rn gave Polkadot a little bit more credit:

“I think Polkadot has had a big impact on Rusts growth. Polkadot has come onto the scene with a different offering than Ethereum, which is really appealing to talented developers. There are really solid projects being built on Polkadot that have caught the attention of talented developers and a lot of them are starting to take notice and realise that Blockchain and Crypto is here to stay. This means that Rust has to be learned to get into the Polkadot space.”

Jacob makes a great point.

Blockchain and Crypto projects have been steadily gaining momentum, and the wider development community is taking notice.

Rust seems to be becoming one of those languages you’ll need to learn to get a strong foothold in the space. Especially if you want to futureproof yourself.

I do understand the counterpoint though.

Some people will be hesitant to give all the credit to Polkadot, as Rust is a seriously impressive language in its own right, and it’s popular because of that fact.

That means only one thing:

 

Rust will continue to grow and improve

A good indicator that Rust will continue to rise in popularity is that universities have started bringing it into their courses.

This means that in a couple of years we’ll naturally start seeing the number of junior developers with Rust experience increase.

Alessandro Buser, the Lead Blockchain Developer at Dialectic AG outlined the future of Rust really well:

“It’s going to go up, and up only – a lot of the big tech firms are starting to focus more on Rust. It’s moving out of Mozilla and it’s now fully open source – which makes it easier for bigger companies to integrate with. Rust is also starting to take over some of the applications that were written in C++ – this is because it’s easier for a C++ developer to move into Rust. This growth will continue as more customer focused products utilise WebAssembly”

Speaking to all of these experts in the space made one thing very clear to us:

Developers love working with Rust.

And to prove this point even further, there is literally tons of articles outlining exactly why:

From StackOverflow

So if we throw everything else to the side and only consider how the developers feel, you’d anticipate that the language would still continue to grow.

The amount of word-of-mouth marketing that this language has is pretty crazy too.

As we mentioned in the intro, demand for developers with Rust skills has increased by 300% in 2021 (so far), compared to the WHOLE of 2020. That isn’t something that happens by chance.

I hope this article provided some unique insight into the relationship between Rust and Polkadot from experts who work in the space every day.

It’s difficult to say that the sole reason Rust has become so popular is because of the rise in popularity of Polkadot.

BUT:

At the same time, we know that Polkadot would’ve been a contributing factor.

 

Dominic Lang
Hey! I love working with DeFi Scale Ups, and focus specifically on Web3 and Crypto. Connect with me directly on LinkedIn to see more content just like this.

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4 Ways Blockchain Companies Changed Their Hiring Strategy in 2020

Posted February 4, 2021

Today we’re going to analyse the four main ways that Blockchain organisations changed the way they hired (and who they hired) in 2020.

2020 brought a lot of challenges for businesses, and Blockchain organisations were not exempt from the quickly changing landscape.

Funding a crypto start-up has dramatically changed over the past 12 months too – we investigated how crypto start-ups manage their funds in this article.

Hiring strategies were adapted pretty significantly over the past 12 months.

Permanent employees became more common, engineering became less of a priority and we saw an increase in work from the USA.

We’ll discuss the reasoning behind this shift and what it means for your Blockchain company.

Let’s get right into it:

 

Permanent placements have become more common for our partners

This stat really took me by surprise.

The rise of the gig economy and uncertainty due to the global pandemic lead me to believe shorter term temporary contracts would be sought after (this allows companies more control over their cash flow and forecasting).

But interestingly, permanent employee requirements increased by 11% in 2020.

We investigated further and came to the conclusion that there are two main reasons for this:

1. The introduction of IR35
2. Start-up headcount being important for growth targets

The IR35 legislation has changed the way tax works for contractors in businesses, and as a result of this typical contractors are prioritizing permanent employment for ease and security.

gov.uk

We promise the next reason is a little more exciting:

Contractors in most cases don’t count towards to headcount of start-up (or any company).

This becomes important when you have to hit growth targets to secure future funding – VC’s will often use headcount as a way to measure growth within a business.

So hiring permanent employees is a good indicator of projected growth and sustainability.

These two factors saw permanent placements into our partners go from 31% to 42%.

Internal data from Plexus

Our expertise in the Blockchain market had a huge impact in the next point:

 

Engineering requirements reduced by 10%

Let me be clear:

This is not to say engineering teams aren’t still rapidly growing (they still made up 71% of our placements).

We just had a broader scope of roles to fill in 2020.

Internal data from Plexus

Plexus as a company started focusing more on the Blockchain industry and really specialising in that market.

This laser focused approach meant we started working on roles outside of the core engineering function.

Our partners hired us for roles like Community Managers, Compliance and Operations to build a well-rounded Blockchain company.

The maturity of Blockchain organisations also had a huge part to play in hiring strategy:

 

Marketing, community and growth became essential for success

This was also a contributing factor to the engineering placement ratio being reduced.

Building a reliable, solid product is often the main goal of a young Blockchain company.

But as time goes on and the product starts to attract more casual users, community and marketing becomes ultra important.

Internal data from Plexus

Ensuring users feel comfortable with the product and are making full use of all the features is key to growth and continued use.

Enabling users to take advantage of all your features will help you stand out in a crowded market, and users feeling comfortable with the product will promote extended use.

The growing number of customer facing blockchain products is also placing more of an importance on marketing and employer branding.

There’s a lot of movement in the space, and blockchain organisations need to get heard.

The best way to get heard at the moment is by building a community, and you’ll build this successfully through marketing.

Want further insight to hiring in the crypto space?
Download our State of Crypto Hiring Report to explore salaries, how long it takes to hire and which areas are important for growth.

The next point allowed us to work with partners in new time zones:

 

Roles in the USA were new to Plexus

This one is pretty simple.

Blockchain was already a remote heavy industry before 2020 came around, but now it’s extremely common to have completely remote teams based around the world.

Blockchain organisations in the USA are now way more open to hiring fully remote candidates than before, which has allowed us to engage our established networks and help build their teams.

This meant our activity in the USA increased for 2020 compared to 2019.

Those are the four major changes we saw in hiring strategies for Blockchain organisations in 2020.

2020 was challenging for many businesses; agility, quick decision making and shifting strategies was vital to keep ahead.

We post data around hiring topics for Blockchain and DeFi companies a little more frequently on our LinkedIn page.

We also post our latest roles there first – connect with us!

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6 Ways To Tackle Impostor Syndrome In Your Tech Team (And Yourself)

Posted

Today I’m going to outline 6 ways you can tackle impostor syndrome in your technology team and the tech industry in general.

I’ll also discuss some ways you can deal with impostor syndrome in your own career.

You might be asking what is impostor syndrome? Or what is impostor syndrome in the tech industry?

The first thing to note is that a huge 58% of tech workers feel like impostors.

So you and the people in your team are not the outliers here.

I recently spoke to Sarah Vang Nøhr from Trustpilot about this specific topic for my video series “Diversity By The Dozen” (you can watch the full conversation here).

This series explores diversity in the technology industry and what companies are doing to build a more diverse workforce.

I’ve even created a LinkedIn group to discuss diversity in the technology industry.

I’d love for you to join us.

In the meantime, I’ll be detailing ways you can diminish the impact impostor syndrome has on you and your team.

Let’s get started:

 

Start practicing emotional intelligence in your team.

Impostor syndrome is something which can be very hard to identify in yourself.

It will impact you in such subtle, yet consistent ways that you may not even be aware you have it.

Blind.com conducted a survey to the thousands of tech professionals using the Blind app (total participants: 10,402)

The results were pretty conclusive 👇


teamblind.com

This is why emotional intelligence within your team is so important.

You can help identify impostor syndrome behaviours or actions and STOP them in their tracks.

Observatory.tec.mx also produced a great article that outlines the intersection between impostor syndrome and emotional intelligence.

Believing in your team and helping push them in the right direction will fill them with confidence and help counteract the effects of impostor syndrome.

But that’s not all:

Sarah also discussed the important of emotional intelligence in our conversation:

“Focus on awareness – being aware if you can sense someone holding back, being aware if you know someone knows something and they keep on holding back, that’s a really good sign of someone suffering with impostor syndrome. But also just probing, asking the right questions.”

The next point may seem counterintuitive at first.

 

Start using radical candor NOW.

Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean is a book written by Kim Scott, which teaches you to “create a culture of feedback, build a cohesive team and achieve great results.”


radicalcandor.com

Radical candor is very simply ensuring your team knows you care personally for them before giving difficult feedback.

It’s extremely important to give actionable feedback to your team, and it’s even more important that this feedback is received well and acted upon.

This kind of honesty in a team builds a lot of trust and enables people to believe in themselves.

Or in other words:

Two very important steps to fixing impostor syndrome.

Sarah outlined the importance of radical candor to me:

“The caring part is really important, whoever you’re being completely honest with and pushing, needs to feel like you’re doing it from the right place, and not from a place where you’re trying to hurt them. If you’re being honest but hurtful, you’re just being an asshole. But, if you build up that trust and you build up that, you can really get far with radical candor.”

The next point ties in nicely with radical candor.

 

Ensure that your team shines.

This should be the objective of every manager no matter what.

BUT:

It just so happens it is great at tackling impostor syndrome too.

This is a visual representation of what impostor syndrome can feel like:

Praising team members openly will tackle the thoughts of not belonging or not being good enough.

It’s important to note though:

Team members with impostor syndrome will assume you are overstating this praise, so it’s important to provide facts and evidence to back up your comments.

Sarah has found great success in her engineering team at Trustpilot:

“Make it your mission to make people shine as a manager, that should be your first and foremost mission. It should be what wakes you up in the morning, I would say, because then you put them first and you make sure they can feel it, especially at your core they can feel it.”

Now we can discuss ways to overcome impostor syndrome in yourself.

 

It’s important to find your superpower.

Finding your superpower in your career means you can focus on work that comes easily to you, is fun and you can do for hours and hours.

This focus will build your confidence and show you were your strengths and weaknesses are.

Some people will refer to this as your “flow state”

Your flow state is the perfect mix of challenge and ability. You can complete tasks for hours on end without getting bored.

You’ll often find that time seems to speed up when you’re in the flow state.

Some easy questions to ask yourself to find your superpower include:

  • What aspects of your job are you feel completely focused and can excel without too much effort?
  • What do people tell you you’re good at? This is often a quick way of identifying your strong points.
  • When are you most confident and fearless? This will lead to you taking risks and expanding your ability, which are great signs of strength.
  • What parts of your job do you just “get” more than others?

For a more in-depth analysis of finding your superpower, read 10 Questions To Help You Find and Boost Your Superpowers by Lifehack.org

And if that’s not enough:

Sarah outlined the importance of finding your superpower in our conversation:

“The first one and the most powerful one I would say is to find your superpower and find your passion. Strip away all of your thoughts about what an engineer should look like or what someone in tech should look like and really focus on the things that matter to you and push that forward. You need that strong vision on where you want to go.”

Following these points to find your superpower will help reduce that creeping doubt that impostor syndrome can bring on.

Most importantly, you need to:

 

Start sharing the blame.

Impostor syndrome will regularly lead people to blame themselves when something goes wrong at work (this could be something as small as an confusing email, or as big as a late project).

But let’s be honest:

Realistically, this very rarely ever one person’s fault.

Maybe the information wasn’t communicated to you effectively, perhaps you never got all of the information or it could be that you didn’t have the right amount of time to complete the task.

The point is, some things are just out of your control.

Sarah has a great exercise for people blaming themselves which can really help put things in perspective.

“One of the exercises I do when I can tell people are blaming themselves is to make a pie chart and detail how much was your responsibility, how much was somebody else’s. This helps you to share the blame.”

Practicing sharing the blame will stop putting the pressure all on yourself and allow you to see a clearer picture of the whole situation.

Finally, you need to understand the most important point of all.

 

Understand the circle of control.

This theory will help you to categorize exactly what you can control, what you can influence and what you have no impact over at all.

For some, this can be a pretty eye opening experiment.

All you need to do is draw three circles like a target on a big piece of paper, then write areas of concern on sticky notes and place them where they belong on the circle.

You can read more about the circle of influence here.

It’s great because it categorizes exactly what people can and can’t control, which will relieve doubt and uncertainty.

The idea is that if you can’t control it, then you don’t put any more thought into it.

Sarah outline how she uses it in our conversation:

“There are three levels of things you can control: Things you can control directly, influence over others and everything else outside of this. One of the things I never let bother me is peoples reactions to work I’ve done, if I’ve done everything I can then I won’t let it impact me. As long as we’ve done everything we can, we need to let everything else go.”

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What strategy are you going to implement in your technology team to tackle impostor syndrome?

I’d love to hear which tip you liked with you the most.

3d dimenstional shapes in space

6 Things To Consider When Building A Diverse Technology Team

Prepared by Katie Moorcroft
Posted October 14, 2020

Today I’m going to discuss 6 overlooked things you need to consider when you’re building diversity in the workplace.

You might be asking what is diversity? What is cultural diversity?

I’ve been speaking to tech companies like Glintpay and Machinemax for the past 6 months about this EXACT topic.

Recently, I sat down with Rocco Donnarumma from Beacon to find out how he achieved his 50/50 split engineering team (you can watch the full conversation here).

It wasn’t easy.

Diversity is at the forefront of companies minds across the world.

And for good reason.

A diverse tech team is 15% more likely to outperform non diverse teams, bring in more revenue and can even result in a more engaged workforce.

I will be outlining tips that you can implement in your search for diverse talent TODAY.

Let’s dive right in.

 

The interview process needs to be adapted from the ground up.

It can be tempting to think that all you have to do to increase diversity is to interview more women.

The problem is, often interview processes have been created with men in mind (making it much harder for women to succeed).

A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences reported that women were more likely to be interrupted mid-sentence.


crowdink.com

The same study also found that women are more likely to face follow up questions (indicating a lack of trust or belief on the interviewers part).

Rocco, the Head of Product Engineering at Beacon found that different people perform better in different interview situations too:

“If you understand that it actually brings value to your company, to your bottom line to have a diverse team then you completely change the way you think about it, the way you behave and the way you recruit. The vast majority of the companies I have worked for in the past just think of it as a check box, and it’s unfortunate. I think what Beacon has done so well from the beginning is they really wanted to achieve that.”

This flexibility in the interview process allows Beacon to focus on hiring people who are good at the job, and not just good in interviews.

So how can you adapt your interview process to allow both men and women to shine?

We’ve already spoke about allowing candidates to choose how they present their skills.

Having at least one female interviewer as part of every stage can be a great step in the right direction too.

44.3% of the developers asked in a study by Nederlia said they should always be at least one female interviewer.


nederlia.com

And that’s not all:

Having a more structured interview process cuts down on the amount of candidates hired by a “gut-feeling” and having a set list of questions means it’s fairer for everyone involved, as outlined by this LinkedIn article.

The next point is crucial to get the right people into your interview process.

 

You need to spend more time curating your talent pool.

It’s no secret that there is a huge gender disparity in the tech world.

The fact that I’ve been on this mission over the past 6 months just shows how much work has to be done.


statista.com

This graph tells you all you need to know.

So curating your talent pool in the same way will likely produce the same results you’ve always had.

You need to put more work in at the start to achieve a truly diverse team later.

Rocco aimed to fix that issue at the very beginning of the hiring process:

“The engineering talent pool is disproportionately male. The way that we aimed to fix that issue, especially at the beginning in the interview phase was to create a pipeline of candidates that was representative of what we want to achieve.”

But that’s not all.

There are two methods Rocco used to find female developers:

1. They worked alongside their recruiters, engineering managers and head of product to actively reach out to them on LinkedIn.
2. They also decided to target candidates outside of the UK.

This may seem simple, but being very deliberate with your talent pool will make your hiring process much easier in the later stages.

The next point is often overlooked by companies.

 

Creating the right culture will do half the work for you.

Actively going out and building a diverse team is a great way to put fate in your own hands.

It is a lot of work, though.

To be able to continue building a diverse company far into the future, you need to have the right culture.

I’m not going to tell you how to build the right culture for diversity in this post, as that’s a completely separate beast and has been well documented.


cio.com

BUT.

I will tell you that having the right culture will allow you to attract candidates whilst you focus on other areas of the business.

Rocco saw the benefits of that recently:

“I had a very strong female developer message me recently and she mentioned she had seen all the work we were putting in to create a diverse team, and she wanted to speak to us about opportunities. She wasn’t looking for a job right now, but she said she was very interested in joining Beacon in six months or so.

It’s not just about problem solving for today, it’s about building a long-term pipeline and you get that by bringing excitement into the company.”

Just being KNOWN for diversity and inclusion will attract more people who fit into the company your building.

Let’s get down to one of the core reasons to create a diverse team.

 

There’s very REAL business benefits to be had.

Let me hit you with some numbers:

Organisations with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.

When diverse teams made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time.

As if that’s not enough.

Rocco told us:

“My experience so far in my team has told me you can achieve high performing teams, regardless of the team, but you won’t be able to create an amazing product and one that resonates with your customers unless you have a diverse team. The diversity comes into play when you’re building a product because you need to have all those different points of view and experiences come together.”

That’s some pretty conclusive evidence.

Better problem solving, higher revenues and better business decisions.

What more do you want?

Diversity and inclusion is not something to be introduced to just please people, it WILL help your business on its journey.

You’ve got your diverse team together, what’s next?

 

Keeping the team together is vital.

You’re not going to want to hear this.

But building your team is only half of the work.

Once your diverse team is together, you’ve got to keep them together.

Especially as the average turnover rate is increasing across the UK.


perkbox.com

Focusing on how managers work within a team is something that is often overlooked in the tech world, where software engineers and developers are often converted to managers.

Rocco tells us that engineers and developers becoming managers is not career progression, but a career change:

“What we focus on the manager sides of things, we need to train our managers on how to build a high performing team. We have to make sure that the we’re hiring managers and training them in a way so they know which points to hit with the engineers to keep them motivated, engaged and happy.”

This step is just as IMPORTANT as the others.

Once you’ve built your diverse team, you need to keep them together.

And without the next step, you’ll never achieve true change within your company or team:

 

Diversity can’t be a checkbox.

This really is critical for diversity to be achieved, valued and implemented going forward.

If you don’t truly understand the importance of diversity and what it can do for your companies bottom line, then there won’t be any lasting change.

This is why I’ve been on this mission over the past 6 months.

Tech companies often know the importance of a diverse team, but will only carry out a couple of the points mentioned above.

This will result in the right candidates not being interviewed, not keeping the team together or simply not doing it for the right reasons.

Rocco told me why it was different at Beacon:

“If you understand that it actually brings value to your company, to your bottom line to have a diverse team then you completely change the way you think about it, the way you behave and the way you recruit. The vast majority of the companies I have worked for in the past just think of it as a check box, and it’s unfortunate. I think what Beacon has done so well from the beginning is they really wanted to achieve that.”

Let me be clear about something:

You probably will have to change processes to hire a truly diverse, high performing team.

But changing the way you think about diversity will show you the very real business benefits that can be achieved.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What strategy are you going to implement first to hire a more inclusive, diverse team?

I’d love to hear which tip resonated with you the most.

3d dimenstional shapes in space

We meet Jamiel Sheikh, CEO of Chainhaus

Posted July 28, 2020

This week I had the chance to catch up with Jamiel, the founder of Chainhaus, a blockchain advisory and applications studio based out of New York City. We talked about the enterprise blockchain space, AI, and running a business in 2020. It was a really interesting discussion, and taught me a lot. I hope that you enjoy it.

Colin Platt (CP): Jamiel, great to meet you, thanks for agreeing to speak with me today.

Jamiel Sheikh (JS): Absolutely, thanks for reaching out.

CP: Can we just kick things off, by telling us a bit about yourself and what you do?

JS: I wear a couple of different hats, one of my central projects is a company that I run called Chainhaus, which we’re currently in the process of renaming to Fidecent. We’re a blockchain services and products company, we’ve been active since late 2016. Our growth strategy has been very conservative, finance-wise, and this company is most of my day job. In addition, I am an adjunct-professor at Columbia Business School, NYU and CUNY. I teach Blockchain, AI, Innovation, and Machine Learning topics at graduate levels. I also run the largest blockchain group in New York City, before March we ran about 30 to 40 events per year. This fall we’re doing an event on CDBC which will be both in person and virtual. I’m also an author, currently writing a book on the Corda Blockchain for the O’Reilly Publishing House, and it should be out in a few months. We predominantly focus on enterprise blockchain and AI. My background is 15-20 years in technology, I’ve worked in banking and finance as well as real estate.

Right now we’re building a couple of different projects in the blockchain space, the flagship product is called Disburso, which is disbursement management, and comes off the back of a project we did last year with the World Bank. We identified some use cases and focussed our product around a large number of disbursements and fighting corruption, to ensure that the people who are supposed to receive disbursements actually do, and ensuring that it makes the intended impact. We also have an MVP of CordaIQ, which is a node manager tool (CordaIQ.com). And Reilize.com, which is RE wholesale trading

CP: Wow, you do quite a bit. It’s impressive. So let’s talk a bit about Chainhaus, and your work with Corda.

JS: We are blockchain agnostic as a company, and Corda is one of our specialities, but we also work with Algorand, Libra, Ethereum and a few other technologies. What we’re seeing is that the Corda platform is kind of emerging as the de facto platform in the enterprise space, next to Hyperledger Fabric. From a strategic point of view, Fabric was more crowded when we got into it, and Corda was a bit more under the radar. We’ve grown very close with R3, we get a lot of help and support from them, and we’re picking up more projects now after a lull in the first quarter. Over the next 4 or 5 years we expect the Corda space to continue to grow.

CP: Let’s dive into that a bit more. What kind of clients do you work with? And if you can talk about what you’re seeing in business growth?

JS: It’s a mixed picture, we started with education and that has shifted this year. We do a lot of education, we have the number one blockchain class in New York City. I don’t like virtual education, and favor in person teaching. We were very active last year, but this year that’s gone away, along with the revenue from that. But what has picked up is development services, we have some large system integrators and financial services firms as clients. We had projects with the World Bank, and hope to have further work there. We have a mix of projects, but focus on financial services predominantly. A lot of the clients come to us via word of mouth, we have no advertising budget, and I don’t do much outbound marketing, we focus on education and learning and get dealflow off the back of that. Since the Covid crisis, our focus on products has also increased now that we have more time.

CP: Can you talk to us more about the products that you’re working on?

JS: FloLedger, which is being rebranded as Disburso, is our core product. We also have a product called CordaIQ, which is a node management tool that requires no installation, right now if you want to manage a Corda node from a dashboard or a console you need to install things, we are taking a no install approach. It should be out in three months. We’re also working on non Blockchain projects, one related to real estate wholesaling, which is a US centric market that allows people to enter into a special agreement to buy out a property under conditions that allow you to sell a contract, this removes the need to be licensed as a real estate agent. This is an active market, but doesn’t have a central place to search for inventory, like Zilla. We’re building a marketplace called Reilize to help this market. We’re also building a real time chat app as an experiment. These aren’t blockchain, but AI focussed, which is the other speciality of our company. Ultimately I see Blockchain and AI working together in the future, when we have more AI and more blockchain data.

CP: Blockchain and AI is something I’ve heard a lot of talk about, but don’t really fully grasp. I’d be interested in hearing more about your vision.

JS: There are a large number of use cases, in particular around tokenization, once we start to see more mainstream tokenization. Right now a lot of these platforms aren’t gaining traction. The investment world using token offerings to raise capital is still tiny when you compare it with the larger market, if we start to see more of this though you’ll see more opportunities for AI and AI agents around things like trading. High-frequency trading could use AI to analyze blockchain data, or focus on the massive warehouses of high quality data used in blockchains for something like supply chains. When you compare these regular databases, blockchains have much higher quality data and this can make for better AI results. We’ll start to see this data used to identify fraudulent actors using these types of data, we’re preparing for that now but are still a few years away from that arguably. Ultimately we see AI as helping to further blockchain technology, as it is highly value additive.

CP: Last question I have, outside of what you’re doing. What are some of the things you find exciting?

JS: I learned a long time ago to not try to predict the future because a lot of the most innovative things have come out of nowhere. Where I see the most value currently is around tokenization, as I think this is where blockchains can shine, for raising capital, shares in a company, and brand new digital assets that are currently not even thought of. Tokens allow an entirely digital asset experience, this is something that I’ve been most excited about for over a year now.

CP: Jamiel, thank you very much for chatting with me today. Really enjoyed hearing about it and wish you all the best.

JS: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

As always, nothing here should be construed as financial advice, recommendation or endorsement of any project or cryptocurrency.