A few years ago it was an executives’ dream to work at Google, Amazon, Apple, and the other Big Tech firms of Silicon Valley, but now that dream has evolved into crypto startups. It doesn’t matter if you want to work for a company that uses blockchain technology or create your own, highly-paid engineers and executives are departing the Silicon Valley valley with their high salaries and chief executive officers at an increasing rate.
The New York Times reports that Big Tech executives are leaving and crypto products such as NFTs may be a reason. What do the crypto companies represent for them today, if they once thought that Silicon Valley talent was in a comfortable position with good pay? Is it really about the money?
Google and other large companies are becoming more concerned about keeping their talent. They are now offering stock grants to employees more likely to prefer a cryptocurrency startup to them. However, the company declined to comment.
Evan Cheng, co-founder and chief executive of a blockchain-related startup called Mysten Labs, commented about the change of hearts: “Back in 2017 or so, people were mostly in it for the investment opportunity,” and added that “Now it’s people actually wanting to build stuff.”
Execs Are Silicon Valley’s Exes
Below are some executives who broke the hearts of Big Tech guys:
- Sandy Carter used to be Amazons’ vice president, now she’s Senior Vice President and Channel Chief of Unstoppable Domains, a company that uses blockchain domains to connect Web2 to Web3.
- Brian Roberts is the ex-chief financial officer of Lyft.
- Jack Dorsey, of course, left his position as Twitter’s chief executive to dedicate himself to Square, now renamed Block because of the blockchain.
- David Marcus, head of crypto efforts at Meta is apparently leaving and joining his own cryptocurrency venture.
- Surojit Chatterjee, Google’s former vice president, is now Coinbase’s chief product officer.
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Is The Exodus Over?
Sandy Carter, ex-Amazon vice president, stated that yes. She thinks that “It’s the perfect storm,” and added that “The time is just perfect to jump in on it.”
Meanwhile, Brian Roberts told The New York Times in an email: “I’ve seen enough cycles and paradigm shifts to be cognizant when something this big is just emerging, … We are Day 1 in terms of NFTs and their impact.”
Back to the question of why exactly is the talent leaving Silicon Valley, a part of the decision might be related to the salaries, but another side of it is ideological and enthusiastic: engineers are tired of dealing with bureaucracy, many feel the desire to build something, plus the ethics and moral aspects of Big Tech firms don’t help either.
Ms. Carter said that decentralization is attracting some talent to counter the dominance by large companies. To generate large amounts of income, it is attractive to not control personal data.
“Software engineering culture has always leaned toward anti-authoritarianism” explained Dan McCarthy from the firm Paradigm. The scenario of working in a FAANG company, which is Facebook, Amazon Apple, Netflix and Google, was described by McCarthy, who has spent seven years searching for talent.
your impact on the product you’re building may be negligible, nothing you’ll work on is truly yours, … That’s setting aside all of the ethical quandaries related to privacy, security, and ownership that are inherent to those companies and grating to anyone who self-identifies as anti-authoritarian on any level.
He further explains the attractiveness of crypto startups token-based vesting model, where “employees accrue an ownership stake in the company over time just like stock options”, but including the benefits of “no exercise cost”, tokens being “governed by a transparent, immutable smart contract”, plus they retain “liquidity continuously over time”, and other positive aspects.
He notes several other luring points, like the openness of DAOs in comparison to the lack of transparency and invasive behavior of big tech, and the possibility of causing “real-world impact”, which he defines as “the ability of one person to influence the direction of a project or technology.”
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