Silicon Valley and big tech companies are increasingly losing talent and high-profile people to the greener pastures of the crypto industry. Green as in freshness and the horizon of opportunities, and green as in money.

Like CryptoSlate reported In the past month, it is becoming apparent that Web3 and the broader crypto and blockchain space is becoming increasingly interesting for talent to join. Not too long ago, getting a job at one of the big tech companies was a dream come true for many, and it may still be, but now there is an attractive alternative career in the cryptocurrency space.

There are numerous examples to support the case: Meta (Facebook) wallet project Novi lost its CMO to payments technology company Circle in January; Amazon’s AWS Edge Service General Manager jumped into the role of CTO at the Gemini exchange.

Meanwhile, both Lyft’s former CFO and Uber’s former director of corporate development targeted the NFT market. Open sea. Also, former Head of Gaming on YouTube, Ryan Wyattleft the tech giant to become CEO of Polygon Studies.

An AI expert at Uber and Facebook

Adding to the growing list of people saying goodbye to big tech is sydney zhangwho left Uber and Facebook to join as CTO at magic edenthe largest NFT market in Solana (SUN).

In an interview with CryptoSlate, Zhang shares his personal story of why and how he left supposedly high-paying jobs and straight career paths in big tech for a much more adventurous and risky career in the crypto space.

by zhang The journey into the world of big tech began around 2013. He was the organizer of a bitcoin developer meetup group in San Francisco, which inspired him to create an API for crypto developers.

“While the time was not as ideal to launch a cryptocurrency company as it is now, it gave me valuable experience that I would later need to take on other technology projects. Then I took a short break from crypto and joined UberEats,” says Zhang.

Zhang spent a few years at UberEats, where he focused primarily on machine learning, search recommendations, and discovery.

“I then moved on to Research Engineering Manager at Uber’s Self-Driving Research Lab, focusing on computer vision/prediction. After that, I left Uber to work at Facebook in AI.”

At the same time that Zhang joined UberEats, he had already developed a taste for cryptocurrencies. Zhang found out about cryptocurrencies in 2013 and was “immediately fascinated”.

“At that time, I adopted a libertarian belief system and really identified with the principles of cryptocurrencies and their defense of fixed supply currency,” says Zhang.

“Diamonds suck, but blockchain is forever”

At first, Zhang wanted to build consumer apps: He did some NFT stuff, like embedding love letters on the blockchain.

“I think at the time, the line was, ‘Diamonds suck, but the blockchain is forever.’ Then I was the first to make a Twitter tipping bot for Bitcoin, but it didn’t quite work, and I worked on a project where you can encode an image and store it on the blockchain to verify copyright,” says Zhang. .

Not long after his effort in NFT land, Zhang came up with a “great idea” to create a Bitcoin developer API that would allow other developers to build consumer crypto applications.

“Instead of not being able to get traction with consumer crypto apps, I had a bunch of developer clients who couldn’t get traction. The API company ultimately failed. And I went to work for Uber. But I kept paying attention to cryptocurrencies,” says Zhang.

What eventually made Zhang take the plunge and launch the Magic Eden NFT marketplace in Solana was crypto gaming, a thought that had been lurking in the back of his mind for years.

“Personally, I have been thinking about crypto gaming since 2014. That was when people started talking about smart contracts just before Ethereal It came out and people spent a lot of time thinking about it.”

“I was thinking a lot about how game assets could be crypto assets. When it actually happened, he was still shocked and fascinated. And obviously, things still happen in different ways than I imagined them,” says Zhang.

NFTs were a long time coming

When NFTs as a use case started to take off, Zhang was a long time coming. Along with a group of co-founder friends, long thinking of starting something in crypto, the group started brainstorming and finally started Magic Eden.

“What I find promising about NFTs is that ownership of these digital assets now belongs to the user. Open protocols always beat closed protocols. NFTs as a concept in the larger context or the context of the metaverse, and the interoperability of digital assets is incredible.”

“A game used to be: the game was built and there was a certain player base. Now the game can become a development platform and the game can support developer assets. I think the ability to do that is really cool,” says Zhang.

Digital assets belong to the user, not the platform

According to Zhang, this opens up many opportunities and primitives. Digital assets belong to the user and not to the platform, which is also really amazing.

“It’s an exciting time, and there are a number of stories I can share from Magic Eden in terms of how amazing it is for the user to own the asset. The user is not tied to any platform. They can take it to any platform they want. Avoid platform blockage. That prevention is what creates a healthy ecosystem.”

For Zhang, and many others leaving big tech for cryptocurrencies, the prospect of sovereign user ownership of assets and the technological opportunities this can bring seems to be a major factor in their interest in the cryptocurrency space. cryptocurrencies. Crypto is also highly multidisciplinary, which also makes the space so attractive to many.

The money aspect is there, yes, but these people are usually not short of money, they miss cutting-edge technology, they see a new paradigm for asset ownership, and they want to keep changing the world for the better.

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This post Why did this top CTO ditch Uber and Facebook for NFTs in Solana?

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