Bitcoin still plays a central role in the Blockchain universe. But how do you find Bitcoin engineers?
Three types of Bitcoin engineers exist. Those who build program applications that merely happen to interact with your blockchain, those who build applications for your blockchain, and those who make a blockchain from scratch. This third category is the least common, the most skilled, and the hardest to get. As of mid-2016, blockchain thought leader William Mougayar estimated there were only about 5,000 such individuals. They’re supremely rich, so they’re not seeking a job. Most freelance, so you’d want to consider hiring remote. There’s a trick to hiring the best of them. You may have to change your work environment and philosophy to get them. Here’s a peek into their characteristics and interests so you know what to look for and how to motivate them to join your team.
Qualities of Bitcoin Developers
Crypto-anarchists dream of a decentralized industry that has people all over the world functioning without government interference. Peaceful though their philosophy is, it tends to intimidate businesses. Get used to it. It’s part of who they are.
1. Autonomous: Bitcoin engineers worth their salt became extremely rich from Bitcoin early in their careers. They’re not in it for the money. They’re obsessed with the technology. As one Reddit member put it: “I was enamored with Bitcoin when I first learned about it, and wanted to know everything about how it works. I spent hours everyday after work (I was/am a software developer) learning and practicing the tech… researching the tech, writing smart contracts/Dapp prototypes, and more or less evangelizing this technology.” There’s little hope such people will agree to be caged. These are people who prize their personal freedom and tend to hate workplace conventions. They may agree to work for you remotely. You may have to relax your rules.
2. Crypto-Anarchists: Many Bitcoin developers are strong libertarians, or crypto anarchists, who aim to decentralize everything from governments to the monetary system. BitNation’s founder, Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, summarizes their viewpoint when she stated that she hoped that cryptocurrency could replace the nation state and rid us of bureaucrats, creating “a world of a million competing digital nations.” Crypto-anarchists dream of a decentralized industry that has people all over the world functioning without government interference. Peaceful though their philosophy is, it tends to intimidate businesses. Get used to it. It’s part of who they are.
3. Intelligent: They’re highly intelligent in the areas of technology, science, finance and arithmetics. Blockchain programming is programming of a different order. “In order to get your head around the complexities of Blockchain,” says Opus’ Zeth Couceiro, “you have to be a pretty smart programmer anyway, it is not just like knocking a website together.” Your dream bitcoin engineer knows game theory and economic principles inside out. Bitcoin developers often work with money, and, therefore, have experience in areas like fixed income instruments, currencies, and commodities (FICC), equities, payments processing, and wholesale credit.
4. Passionate about Financial Technology: Your dream Bitcoin engineer frequents blockchain communities, chats on hackathons, and patronizes on- and offline meetings – as a hobby. You’ll also find them on crypto Subreddits, writing LinkedIn articles, hosting podcasts, and so forth. While some have Ph.Ds in the field, others are self-taught. What they have in common is decades-long experience in the field and a passion for FinTech.
5. Innovative: Many Bitcoin developers have teamed up to work on crypto challenges. The really good ones form and develop their own startups. You’re likely to find them on platforms like Gitter, the preferred chat app for developers, Slack or Discord, or plugging away at blockchain projects on HackerRank or GitHub. They congregate on blockchain-related forums like Bitcointalk, relevant Reddit subgroups, blockchain meetups, and developer conferences like Ethereum Devcon (i.e., Ethereum Foundation Developers Conference).
Other typical characteristics include the following: They’re natural multi-taskers, juggling many different projects at one time. The best of them are able to solve technical and business problems simultaneously. They know they can resolve all problems, are highly competitive by nature, and crave recognition by and from their peers. They want to change the world – again, that’s where their libertarianism comes into play.
The Cost of Hiring Bitcoin Developers
They know they can resolve all problems, are highly competitive by nature, and crave recognition by and from their peers. They want to change the world
The low supply and huge demand for Bitcoin engineers mean that many companies are willing to pay a premium for this expertise. Opus’ Zeth Couceiro estimates a range of $70-90K for “regular” developers whom startups hire then boostwith training. For full-fledged Bitcoin developers, “expect to pay [between] $400,000 and $600,000” for an annual salary according to former chief information officer at UBS and founder of Bussmann Advisory, Oliver Bussmann. Bussmann believes there are only about 20,000 people worldwide with this kind of talent. “Demand for these skills is high. To get the talent you have to pay,” Bussmann tells the publication Financial News. (For a more comprehensive look at this area, see our Feature article “How much do Blockchain Developers Cost?“)
In short, demand for Bitcoin software engineers is high and growing. While Russia and Poland have an abundance of developers, the United States has far less. The search is harder, particularly if your project is not viewed as outstanding. Some of the solution lies in your hands, though it’s far from easy: Walk their walk, master their lingo, speak their speech. Show dream developers how their work will change the world and how they’ll gain visibility. Expect to hire remote devs who cherish independence and who enjoy juggling three or more projects simultaneously.
You’ll want to be resourceful, imaginative, persistent, and flexible. Some buy a whole company only to acqui-hire the right talent. It may be worth it.