Twitter user “Naval” pointed out a major shift that seems to be happening in the economy today in a post back in March – “Blockchains are now sucking in top-tier Silicon Valley tech talent faster than any boom since the Internet.” Despite the posting being eight months ago, the words still ring true.
More and more fintech executives are leaving their traditional roles in search of cryptocurrency success. While there are many from notable tech companies, CoinDesk recently determined seven individuals from the five giants of Web 2.0 – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google.
Blockchains are now sucking in top-tier Silicon Valley tech talent faster than any boom since the Internet.
— Naval (@naval) March 6, 2018
As CoinDesk writes, “Each of the people on this list turned their back on the secure life at a tech giant, the most powerful companies in today’s economy, to take a chance on a new sector built on money native to the internet and decentralized data structures.” Those seven individuals are:
- Kahina van Dyke
- Evgeny Kuzyakov
- Leo Chen
- Alok Kothari
- Ryan Lechner
- Alex Feinberg
- Chandan Lodha
Read on below to find out a little more about these endeavors.
Kahina Van Dyke
Kahina van Dyke was originally employed by Facebook, and she is now working as the senior vice president at Ripple, running the business and corporate development scene. The majority of her resume, even beyond Facebook, has been centered around payments, including her work with Menlo Park, MasterCard, and Citibank.
Her transition was made in June. When she posted on Ripple’s official blog, she explained by saying,
“There is a reason you have only a handful of major money transfer operators in the world today. Without question, cross-border transactions is one of the most complex and multifaceted problem in payments.”
She believes in Ripple’s technology and strategy around making cross-border payments easier.
Evgeny Kuzyakov is another former Facebook staffer, though he also spent some time at Google as well. Presently, he is working at Near Protocol as a software engineer, helping them with their efforts to make blockchain a viable option for low-end devices with the use of sharding. In his departure from Facebook, he was working on compressing 360-degree videos and VR technology.
He said, “I’ve worked on backend infrastructure at Google, so I know how to build distributed systems. I understand security and privacy of large-scale projects to make sure users are in the best interest of the overall system.”
Thus far, Ethereum has proven to be too complicated to work under, while other technologies are too new. Kuzyakov added,
“My industry experience helps understand such issues and hopefully would help avoid them when we design our system”
Leo Chen only recently left Amazon Web Services, opting to start his own consensus platform called harmony.
Chen told CoinDesk that he may have chosen to make this move sooner, if he had not missed a proposal from founder Stephen Tse as a result of deleting the Facebook app from his phone. He commented,
“I, myself, am also pretty interested in building the infrastructure and distributed systems. I felt blockchain is the technology I am interested and I can contribute to.”
Of his time with Amazon Web Services, he added,
“The architecture I learned and the experience I gained can help us build a high-performance and secure blockchain.”
Alok Kothari formerly worked for Apple but found his place as the co-founder of Harmony as well, though he takes on the role of engineer at the company too. Many of the employees have been with one of the big companies on this list, at least.
On his departure from Apple, Kothari said,
“It was a perfect storm of a lot of factors. I had been waiting to start my entrepreneurial journey for a while.”
He added, “I had become convinced that blockchain would transform the world. To unleash all the usefulness of the data being created in the world, access to data should be democratized and decentralized.”
If his efforts are successful, he sees it as a victory for everyone.
Ryan Lechner left Netflix to become a part of the ConsenSys Labs Team. He had doubts about going to a larger business model, but it soon became clear to him that blockchain could make a big difference in Silicon Valley.
He said, “I was walking Lake Merritt in Oakland, listening to a podcast in which Nick Szabo and Naval Ravikant talked about the transformative power of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”
On joining ConsenSys, he said,
“I hope that my role at ConsenSys can catalyze a radical shift to decentralized networks and business models.”
Alex Feinberg came from Google, but his new home is as the director of business development for OKCoin. His original intention, after leaving Google, was to join a security startup called Petram Security, but he eventually moved to OKCoin to expand on his crypto profile.
His move was subtler, making the decision over dinner with a friend. Feinberg commented,
“I thought to myself, ‘The people with whom I share a similar world view outside of Google are doing much better financially than the people with whom I do not at Google, so let’s see where this takes me.’”
As a fellow alum of Google, Chandan Lodha took another route – co-founding CoinTracker, an app that has the ability to help individuals with their tax calculations. He called himself “skeptical” regarding cryptocurrency. However, he started putting together a project of his own that soon was more than a passing hobby.
Even though their technology is not the first to help users with tax obligations, he said, “One lesson we have brought from Google that has been really helpful in building CoinTracker is focusing on users to build very simple and intuitive products.”
The Future Of Fintech
Right now, it is unclear is this decision to move away from traditional financial roles will continue, though it certainly seems enticing to anyone that wants a challenge. However, some companies are trying to expand their blockchain initiatives to try and get more involved, though their success will still depend on the employees involved.
For now, the only real lead that anyone has on these transitions is to watch out for fintech news to see who is next.