Up until a few years ago, working at Google or Facebook used to be the dream of many young professionals. The trend, however, seems to have changed today, as cryptocurrency and blockchain based companies are starting to attract top talent from different industries.
The blockchain phenomenon
The meteoric rise of Bitcoin has captured the attention of people from every sphere of the society and has virtually turned ‘cryptocurrency’ into a household term. While the frenzy has come down to a certain extent due to the decline in the value of Bitcoin in the recent past, the idea of a digital currency that can be exchanged through a decentralized platform without the intervention of a central authority has firmly taken root in many people’s minds.
Initially, cryptocurrency was merely seen as an investment opportunity by most people. Many Bitcoin holders, who had bought the currency when it was in its infancy or mined their own coins, became millionaires overnight when it skyrocketed in value. On seeing the phenomenon, people were intrigued by the idea of investing in a fledgling cryptocurrency, just so they could rake in the profits when it increases in value
Today, however, people are more interested in blockchain – the underlying technology that makes cryptocurrency transactions possible, rather than the currency itself. And they do so for a good reason.
Blockchain – Technological innovation of the decade
It won’t be an overstatement to say that blockchain is one of the most important technological innovations of the decade. The idea that value could be exchanged between different entities in a safe manner without the intervention or approval of a third-party authority seemed like a fantasy up until a decade ago. The arrival of blockchain, however, has made it possible today.
Many experts believe that irrespective of what is in store for cryptocurrencies, the blockchain technology could prove to be a game-changer in the near future. The consensus among industry observers is that blockchain could fill the gaps that exist in the current financial setup and offer a secure and affordable solution for financial transactions on a global scale.
Talent migration to blockchain projects
Olaf Carlson-Wee, who heads Polychain Capital, which is currently the largest cryptocurrency investment fund in the country, says that talent migration from tech giants like Facebook and Google to cryptocurrency and blockchain startups is a real phenomenon.
In a recent interview, Carlson-Wee stated that a number of highly qualified people from major companies like Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and LinkedIn have gone their own way in the recent past – to either start their own cryptocurrency firms or to work at one. The phenomenon, he added, could be clearly observed in the Bay Area, which is a place that attracts the top talent not just from across the country, but from all over the world as well.
In May this year, CoinDesk – a leading digital media company focusing on cryptocurrency and blockchain – formed an online career center, at which time it stated that people with blockchain knowledge are in high demand.
Similarly, freelancing platform Upwork states that job listings that mention ‘blockchain skills’ have become the major trend on its platform in the recent past.
The most sought after skill on the Upwork platform is the ability to work on and contribute to the blockchain technology, the need for which has grown a whopping 6,000% in the past 12 months.
The growth potential of blockchain industry
Industry analysts say that blockchain related activities generated roughly $700 million in revenue last year. It should be noted that big names like Microsoft, IBM, and Accenture accounted for nearly 50% of the revenue generated last year, as they have incorporated the technology into some of their existing products and services and have demonstrated first hand that blockchain related business activities could be commercially successful.
It is believed that the blockchain industry could grow significantly larger in the coming years and the accumulated revenue could very well grow into the tens of billions. This is one of the main reasons why many young talents are so willing to work on blockchain related projects.
Currently, there are several projects that are focused on developing commercially viable blockchain based solutions. A good example, as cited by Carlson-Wee, is Dfinity – a project which is focused on achieving blockchain interoperability and on developing a tool called WASM compiler, using which developers could build their own blockchain platforms with the programming languages that they are knowledgeable in.
A unique thing about the blockchain industry is that a large number of projects are started by ‘outsiders’ – professionals who have developed a keen interest in the technology on their own –instead of high-profile figures and industry leaders, which is usually the case with many other industries.
Employment opportunities for blockchain specialists
The general consensus among industry observers is that knowledge of blockchain architecture and the skill to improve, add to, or build your own blockchain could prove to be invaluable in the coming years.
Experts recommend young professionals to work on cryptocurrency as well as blockchain based projects for a while to gain some much-needed knowledge, insight, and skills on the nature of the blockchain platform and its operation.
While some people are skeptical about the future of cryptocurrencies due to the decline of Bitcoin in recent times and the lackluster performance of many other currencies, experts say that it is the technology that matters, not the currency itself.
Cryptocurrency performance is a poor metric of the industry’s growth potential, which is evident from the fact that despite the slumber in cryptocurrency growth, technological concepts like blockchain and smart contracts, which have a wide range of applications across different industries, have become very popular.
So, it is safe to assume that the growth potential of the industry depends on the evolution of such technologies, not the currencies themselves.
Many institutions, particularly in banking and finance sectors, are developing their own blockchain teams and are in pursuit of highly talented people who have a functional knowledge of the blockchain technology.
So, the time and effort that people put in while they are associated with a cryptocurrency or blockchain based company could help them secure a key position in a major corporation somewhere down the road.
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