Web3 has descended upon the technology world and things are moving fast. With all of the new products and services coming to market so quickly- medium and larger projects are going to need help sorting out all of the products that they have in the pipeline. Product management in the web3 space is a reasonably new problem that needs to be solved.
Bijan Shahrokhi is a Web3 product management executive with 10+ years of experience in building disruptive technologies in fintech. He has worked with startups and large tech companies as a product manager. The last web3 project he launched as Head of Product was Mina Protocol, which was valued at $3B by the market.
Understanding that most crypto projects can do without a PM in the early phase. The focus is on designing cryptoeconomic incentives, fostering online communities, and building out core project infrastructure—roles PMs hardly figure into.
The need for a Product Manager only appears as the project has achieved a considerable user base and wants to consolidate market advantage. This is where things like a product roadmap become necessary. E-Crypto New talks to Web3 Product Management Exec Bijan Shahrokhi below about what goes on in this space, and what is going to be the needs for Web3 companies in the near future
1. What types of jobs do you expect to come up in the crypto market in the coming years?
What’s currently missing in the industry are individuals that help teams be a lot more efficient with their product development process, guiding their approach to be more user-centric.
The reality is the industry is currently led by professionals from Research and Development, with a lot of them having PhDs but with no industry background. What we see is a pattern of making products and iterations that are overbuilt and over-promised. We can see signs of it all across the industry with nothing getting delivered on time.
The way you solve this is by bringing Product Managers who work relentlessly to clarify the scope of the project, end goal, and acceptance criteria, and work with the team to build the right product.
Product Manager is the type of job you will see significant growth on, especially with the recession challenges we see in the market. Definitely, teams will be aiming for more efficiency.
I think the first wave was all engineers building products. The second wave was marketers delivering on their promises. But now, because a lot of the teams are struggling with delivery, the third wave is going to be Product Managers who will come in and help deliver the output.
2. What are the main use cases for cryptos in Web3?
I would say anything related to the self-sovereignty of data and preventing censorship. Instead of big tech owning user data, Web3 is going to put the power back in the hands of users.
The use cases, to be honest, are unlimited. It’s like asking what the use cases of the internet are. Over the next five to ten years, we’re going to see a huge shift in the key principles of interaction with the web. Once that happens, use cases in every single industry will start emerging whether it’s in finance, education, healthcare, content, employment, or any industry you can imagine.
I think we’re seeing some signs of it. For example, Defi is already doing a large volume of financial transactions every day. However, these are just signs of a much bigger change that’s coming in the next few years.
3. Why are crypto jobs accelerating despite the crypto winter?
We have a tsunami of disruptive technologies that are sucking all the talents from top tech companies around the world. If you look at a lot of the founders in the Web3 space right now, you’ll notice that they have been previously successful in Web2 and are now moving to Web3.
As entrepreneurs spend more time in Web3, they realize that the opportunities are endless. There are so many untapped markets and ways for them to contribute and build lasting products. On top of that, there’s also a good mechanism for entrepreneurs and early employees to benefit financially from the endeavor.
They don’t have to wait for a company acquisition or IPO. Their early employee compensation is a lot more liquid because of the fact that tokens can usually be traded as soon as a project is launched.
This is why big VC firms like A16Z and Bain Capital recently announced another significant funding of around a billion dollars.
The Web3 companies that are funded are out there trying to hire talent that can help them deliver on their promises. From a product development perspective, we are not seeing so much of a winter because there’s just so much work to be done and so much capital to support these projects.
4. What are the most popular Web3 jobs?
I think the number one job continues to be Engineering, especially roles that have knowledge of smart contracts and can write programs in languages such as Solidity. It’s going to stay this way for a while because it’s hard to find talented smart contract developers. The talent pool given the large list of things to get done is pretty limited in Web3.
You’re also going to see an emergence of roles that support engineering heavy teams. For example, community management – it’s pretty important because Web3 projects are as good as their community gave most Web3 projects are open source. Or, Web3 product management – because product management can help smart contract developers become a lot more efficient and successful in getting adoption for their products.
I think engineering remains to be the key part, especially with a focus on smart contracts. But, Community Management and Product Management will become a lot more important over the next few years.
5. Which types of Web3 platforms exist?
First, let’s remember that there are different layers in Web3. There’s the base layer which we call Layer 1. It’s the consensus layer that takes care of transaction settlement. Then, there’s Layer 2 which helps with either scaling – increasing the number of transactions per second – or enabling a certain type of use case.
Then you have Level 3 which is the application that’s being built on top of the tech sack. And, maybe there will be Layer 4 and other layers over time.
To answer your question, it really depends on what we mean by platform. There are different layer 1s which are different ecosystems, communities, and use cases. For example, one requires transactions to happen on the chain virtual machine (e.g. Ethereum) whereas another layer 1 chain such as Mina moves the computation off-chain and optimizes for different sets of use cases. There are many different layer 1’s, layer 2’s, and layer 3’s that optimize for a large range of use cases.
6. What does one need to create a metaverse?
Scaling the transaction throughput has been a big bottleneck in improving the user experience for Web3 and Metaverse. I think these two go hand in hand. As you scale, the user experience gets better because you can abstract a lot of the complexities once the transaction costs go down.
However, it’s going to be more of a marathon than a sprint to improve the transaction throughput. It just takes time. For example, technologies such as Zero Knowledge, which many projects are optimistic about as a method of scaling transactions, will take a long time to mature. These technologies are essential for the metaverse to be successful (in a decentralized way) so for that reason, we have to wait and see how things will evolve over time.
In my opinion, we are at least one decade away from a large adoption of meaningful use cases of Web3 and the metaverse.
7. What metaverse firms will emerge once the technology gains mainstream adoption?
It’s hard to predict because we have to see what kind of technologies will have major breakthroughs and what use cases will emerge. It is definitely clear that there will be a lot of firms that can create their own virtual worlds according to the culture of their particular community.
We already see some of this with NFT communities like Nouns and Bored Apes. Every community of independent contributors will develop its own culture and a world that’s not limited by the laws of physics.
I can imagine that there will be millions of those communities. A community can be two people or it can be as many as the population of earth. It would be interesting to see where it goes.
8. What is the difference between the Metaverse and Web3?
Web3 is the technology infrastructure that enables the decentralized and censorship-resistant version of the Metaverse. Web3 is more about the decentralized distributed technologies that take away the power and ownership from big service providers, and reinforce the rights of the user. This shift in ownership will have a deep impact on various industries and enable many unique use cases such as digital scarcity, which is essential for the Metaverse to exist.
In other words, Metaverse is one of those big applications of Web3. And once you have scarce digital goods in the digital world in a scalable manner, you can create new digital worlds and bring Metaverse to reality.
9. How does metaverse virtual reality impact crypto jobs?
It will definitely help grow the market. I would say there are a lot of jobs that are going to be created for contributing to the Metaverse. But, in order for the decentralized version of the Metaverse to be successful, the challenges with Web3 have to be addressed first.
It’s almost like the iPhone. In order for the iPhone to be successful, we had to reach a certain level of technology maturity in transistors, the internet, and graphical interface. And in order for us to get there with the Metaverse, we need to hire a lot more talented people to solve the hard problems that exist in Web3.
10. Where do you see the crypto, metaverse, and Web3 spaces in the coming 5 years?
A lot of focus continues to remain in developing foundational technologies. We’re going to start seeing these technologies come to fruition – enabling us to build more applications on top of them.
For example, we now have multiple decentralized messaging protocols. On the social layer side, we now have some promising technologies. On the scalability side, we have some promising technologies there as well. All these things are going to emerge in the next few years into very robust projects with clear use cases.
That’s most likely where the next generation of companies can come in and build on top of them – projects that will be leveraging existing protocols to build useful and usable decentralized applications quickly.
Bijan Shahrokhi is an Employment Expert, Web3 Product Executive, and creator of Product Management Exercises, a resource that helps people strengthen their Product Management skills and land their dream PM roles at top tech companies around the world.