Secretive Startup 21 to Sponsor Silicon Valley Bitcoin Job Fair

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Secretive bitcoin startup 21 Inc has announced it will be the lead sponsor for the upcoming Bitcoin Job Fair, taking place in Sunnyvale, California, on 18th February.

With the move, 21 joins a string of frequent industry event sponsors including BitPay, BitGo, ChangeTip and ShapeShift, which will support the annual event, produced by FinTech accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center and digital currency job posting resource Coinality.

Plug and Play director Scott Robinson indicated that he expects this year’s Bitcoin Job Fair to attract a similar audience to last year’s event, which saw participation from approximately 30 startups and 400 attendees.

Robinson suggested that this year’s iteration of the Bitcoin Job Fair, however, will likely reflect recent changes in the space, with more jobs emanating from a smaller group of well-capitalized industry participants.

He told CoinDesk:

“Last year, there was a larger emphasis on engineers and developers, I think this year it has widened. You see a lot more marketing and business development opportunities, because they can afford to pay somebody with those responsibilities.”

After first raising $5m in 2013 as a bitcoin mining firm, 21 Inc reemerged this March, revealing it had raised $116m over the course of its absence from the industry’s spotlight.

Asked for comment about its first high-profile public sponsorship, a representative for 21 revealed that the reason for the move is an unsurprising one, stating only: “We’re hiring.”

The event will be free for job seekers. Additional companies with an on-site presence will include 37coins, Airbitz, Bitwage, Blockcypher, Ciphrex, Coinbeyond, Mirror, Pavilion and Purse.io.

The Wall Street Journal’s Michael J Casey and Paul Vigna, authors of “The Age of Cryptocurrency”, will also headline a panel.

Industry consolidation

In an interview, Coinality CEO Daniel Roseman echoed Robinson’s forecasts for the event, noting that the larger VC rounds, such as those recently closed by 21 and Coinbase, are impacting the hiring market.

“Last year, there were more venture capital investments in different companies rather than massive rounds. Obviously jobs come from those VC rounds,” Roseman stated, adding that legal and compliance are now areas of focus for more mature startups.

Still, this expansion hasn’t come without a contraction for earlier stage startups, according to Robinson, who added that he believes the space has matured to a point where the “winners” in the bitcoin space are now being decided.

“We saw the Coinsetter acquisition of CAVirtex, we saw Buttercoin shutter its doors. What’s really happening is the winners are sticking around and buying other teams that are losing,” he said, adding:

“We’re starting to see the main players of the space, at least those that will be for the near future.”

Outside interest

Despite a contracting market within the industry, Robinson hinted that interest in bitcoin jobs is expanding.

Citing recent announcements by companies such as Intel and IBM, Robinson suggested he had been contacted by mainstream companies that are seeking to better understand the technology.

Though the presence of such names won’t be visible at the event, Robinson said “major financial entities” were inquiring about the job fair, a development further spurred by the recent wave of former Wall Street employees associating themselves with the space.

“We’re watching great talent be plucked away from financial institutions, and they bring with them that validation from experience at mainstream positions,” Robinson added.

Campus involvment

Yet another key member of the event will be the College Cryptocurrency Network (CCN), which will host a 72-hour hackathon in conjunction with the event. Sponsored by BitGo, ChangeTip and ShapeShift, the event aims to expose younger developers to the APIs of the sponsors, and by extension, bitcoin itself.

CCN’s Max Wilson, who operates the network’s Berkeley chapter, expressed his hope that the event will draw the interest of those with a more general tech background.

“Our target for this is people who know nothing about bitcoin at all, to bring these people to Plug and Play, give them a quick bitcoin 101, introduce them to the APIs and then have them go from there,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he hopes to build off the momentum of the group itself, which launched in September comprised mostly of grad students, but that now is predominately attended by younger members.

Wilson also spoke to the intended scope of the event, concluding:

“This isn’t just finding the next app, this is the intersection of technology, politics, finance and everything else.”

Job search image via Shutterstock.

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