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Ripple Offered Multimillion-Dollar XRP Bonuses to Lure Top Tech Talent

Silicon Valley fintech startup Ripple goes out of its way to say it didn’t create the cryptocurrency XRP. But that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t rely on its vast reserves of the token when courting prospective hires.

One engineer who asked to remain anonymous showed CoinDesk a recruiting email from late 2018 that promised an XRP package from Ripple of worth up to $3 million, in addition to a generous salary offer.

According to the company’s LinkedIn, Ripple is looking to hire more than a dozen engineers and technical experts, including a new head of engineering for its xCurrent project, which aims to rival the legacy messaging network SWIFT at the center of the current global payments infrastructure.

Salaries may vary according to seniority, but based on conversations with two prospective recruits, XRP bonuses for engineers generally range in value from $1 million to $6 million, according to the company’s own evaluation. As of press time, XRP is trading at roughly $0.30 per token.

(Ripple declined to comment on bonus packages, including whether they are still being offered in 2019.)

One former Ripple employee, who asked to stay anonymous for fear of legal retribution, told CoinDesk he never heard of such XRP bonus packages before 2017. However, he also noted generous equity deals are standard in Silicon Valley.

In September 2018, one prospective engineering recruit, who asked to remain anonymous because he works at a company that might someday collaborate with Ripple, told CoinDesk that he also received an email from Ripple that stood out because it offered lucrative XRP packages, supposedly worth $3 million to $6 million. Both engineers currently work at top-tier tech companies in Silicon Valley, albeit the second programmer at a crypto company (thus the higher offer).

Additionally, the email claimed the global market cap of “its [Ripple’s] coin” was worth $48 billion. According to CoinMarketCap, on the day the email was sent XRP’s global market cap was closer to $13.3 billion. The prospective engineer recruit told CoinDesk he found this discrepancy alarming.

Speaking to the unusual bonus offering that caught his eye, the anonymous engineer said Ripple is “a very unpopular entity in the crypto sphere among technologists,” so he believes the company is “forced to go above and beyond to attract engineers” during the bear market.

Bear recruiting

A Ripple representative told CoinDesk the company currently employs roughly 90 engineers and technology experts, with plans to hire “aggressively” in order to expand its software as a service offering plus support RippleNet mobile wallets and payout processes.

This is part of an ongoing hiring spree. The company representative said that Ripple added 100 new employees across the company in 2018, adding:

“We move fast to acquire the best talent out there – especially considering the highly competitive nature of other startups who want to hire similar candidates.”

Former Ripple community liaison Jon Holmquist told CoinDesk that developer salaries and compensation are ballooning across Silicon Valley. As such, Holmquist said any hiring challenges might be related to the broader market downturn, not Ripple in particular.

“No one wants to join crypto for the first time during a bear market. I think that’s more of an industry-wide problem,” Holmquist said. “There’s always a shortage of talent.”

The anonymous engineer disagreed, considering the other types of recruiting emails he routinely receives.

“This is for a devops role, which is generally harder to find, but these are really big numbers,” the anonymous engineer said, referring to both the salary and XRP bonus package. “It comes across a little bit desperate.”

Serial entrepreneur Dave Schukin tweeted last June that the company offered him more than $175,000 as a base salary, which appears consistent with the other offer shared with CoinDesk.

In terms of what Ripple is looking for, the company representative said they are recruiting software experts with Java or C++ language expertise and an ample dose of teachability.

“We are not necessarily looking for blockchain experts – we can always teach domain-specific expertise,” she said. “We also think it’s important that our engineers carry themselves with humility and are able to think creatively about how to solve hard problems.”

Ripple image via Shutterstock

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Circle’s Head of Partnerships Joins Blockchain Startup Celo

Chuck Kimble, head of financial institution (FI) partnerships at Circle, has left the company for a similar role at another blockchain startup, Celo.

As Celo’s new head of strategic partnerships, Kimble will be helping the digital payments company “to bring better financial products to emerging markets and under-served populations around the world,” the company said in a press release.

“Chuck brings a ton of business development and digital payments experience to Celo and he’ll play an instrumental role in encouraging the development and scaling of products globally,” Celo founder Rene Reinsberg said. “Chuck is highly respected in the financial tech industry and he understands how digital payment services can help people and families with no access to financial services.”

Kimble joined Circle in June of last year. During his tenure at the crypto trading and payments firm, he led business development and promotion of USDC, a cryptocurrency designed to hold its value with the U.S. dollar, or stablecoin.

Naeem Ishaq, Circle’s Chief Financial Officer, told CoinDesk:

“Chuck joined Circle to lead our FI partnerships efforts and participate in a variety of projects, including work on the adoption of USDC. In his short time with the company, he helped to drive USDC adoption across a diverse cross-section of the crypto industry.”

USDC is now the second-largest stablecoin by market capitalization and the No. 19 cryptocurrency overall, according to CoinMarketCap.

Payments veteran

Before Circle, Kimble spent three years at Dashlane, the maker of a password manager and digital wallet application.

He also worked for three years at Square and oversaw partnerships at Visa, supervising the company’s teams in New York, Miami, Singapore and London, with responsibility for account strategy, business planning, recruiting and coaching, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“I’ve spent the vast majority of my career advancing digital payments and I see tremendous opportunity for Celo to improve the livelihood of billions of people around the world who today are involuntarily detached from the global financial system,” Kimble said in Celo’s press release.

In September, Celo added another top manager to its team when former Ripple general counsel Brynly Llyr joined the startup in the same role.

Celo’s investors include Polychain Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase Ventures and Square founder Jack Dorsey.

Chuck Kimble image courtesy of Celo

UPDATE (6, February 20:00 UTC): An earlier version of this article misdescribed Kimble’s work at Circle. He helped “develop” the business around the USDC stablecoin by promoting it to other companies, but he did not build the coin itself. Also, his official title at Circle was head of financial institution partnerships – not all partnerships, as his new employer Celo phrased it in a press release.

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Highlight Reel: Blockchain’s 2018 Year in Review

Highlight Reel: Blockchain's 2018 Year in Review

As 2018 takes its seat in crypto history, we wanted to look back at the various milestones we unlocked while improving the way the world connects to crypto. We are proud of these moments and couldn’t have done this without our users, our team, and the industry.

There is no doubt 2019 will be a great year for crypto. We are excited to embark on another year of continued building to make the financial system more fair and accessible for everyone.

Highlight Reel: Blockchain's 2018 Year in Review

-Blockchain Team

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Welcome Michelle Bond: Blockchain’s New Global Head of Policy

We’re excited to welcome the latest addition to the Blockchain team, Michelle Bond as our Global Head of Policy.

As regulators and lawmakers continue to develop frameworks and guidance involving digital assets, actively engaging with policymakers and the government will be crucial. Michelle has significant experience engaging policymakers both in the United States and globally. She is a financial services lawyer, policy expert and former regulator who most recently advised Bloomberg LP’s business on global financial regulation and evolving market structure as the Deputy Head of Global Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy.

Prior to joining Bloomberg, Michelle served at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Senate Banking Committee and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

She will leverage her deep expertise to provide regulatory and policy support for the creation of trading solutions and financial infrastructure as Blockchain builds out its product suite for institutional clients.

“Michelle has spent her entire career in law and policy, and I’m proud to welcome her to Blockchain where she will advocate for sound public policy in the digital asset space. In her new role, she will help to inform legislation and rulemaking initiatives and help foster innovation and growth in the industry,” said Marco Santori, President and Chief Legal Officer at Blockchain.

“It is an honor to join Blockchain, the leading software provider for digital currency and distributed ledger technology,” said Michelle Bond, Global Head of Policy. “I look forward to engaging with policymakers around the world to create a more modern and inclusive financial system, and am excited to leverage my public and private sector experience in this new role.”

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Blockchain Developer Role Tops LinkedIn’s 2018 Emerging Jobs List

The role of blockchain developer has leaped straight to the top of LinkedIn’s emerging jobs list for 2018.

The networking platform for professionals said in a report Thursday that recent increased interest around cryptocurrencies has led to staff with blockchain development skills being in high demand in the U.S, and that related job listings have seen a 33-times increase in just a year.

The most sought-after skills in the blockchain space include those around the Solidity programming language, ethereum, cryptocurrency and node.js, an open-source JavaScript platform, the report indicates.

LinkedIn further notes that IBM, ConsenSys and Chainyard are the top three employers in the space with top locations being San Francisco, New York City and Atlanta, across information technology & services, computer software and internet sectors.

It’s worth noting that Consensys has just announced that it will be laying off 13 percent of staff due to a business “streamlining” effort at the ethereum-focused firm.

Notably, the blockchain developer role was not mentioned in the last year’s LinkedIn report. Guy Berger, chief economist at LinkedIn, said in Thursday’s report:

“Only time will tell if blockchain will be a long-standing trend in the job market.”

Last month, another report from one of the largest jobs sites, Indeed.com, also showed that employer interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency-related roles has increased, with the number of related job postings increasing by 25.5 percent from October 2017 to October 2018.

Image via CoinDesk archives