Paddy McEvoy discusses the growth of jobs in blockchain and how the remote-first approach at ConsenSys could open up opportunities for workers in Ireland.
As the director of legal at blockchain software company ConsenSys’ European division, Paddy McEvoy is very future-focused. He says that the company’s hiring model is also quite progressive – it was recruiting staff on a remote and hybrid basis long before the pandemic began.
“When I joined ConsenSys three and a half years ago, the idea of flexible working really worked in my legal workload,” he tells SiliconRepublic.com. “For engineers, for people that are writing code all day, it kind of makes sense for them as well. So, I think it is a huge sell for ConsenSys, this remote-first philosophy.”
As he sees it, the company’s “asynchronous” way of working makes sense due to the nature of the work its people do. Blockchain software is a relative newcomer in the world of tech, with ConsenSys focused on decentralised finance (DeFi) and Web3 applications.
Web3 and blockchain
Web3 is the idea of a version of the internet that is decentralised and based on public blockchains. Some blockchain devotees believe this is the natural successor to Web2, which brought about a focus on user-generated and interactive content.
It’s no surprise that McEvoy is singing from the same hymn sheet as these futurists. Looking towards the 2030s, he says: “I think blockchain will have a huge part to play in our lives and probably even more than people in the crypto and blockchain space realise right now.”
He hails Apple’s iPhone as an example of what can be achieved in the space of a few years. The company released the world’s first touchscreen phone in 2007 and has continued to shake up the technology since then.
And while there is speculation as to whether blockchain and DeFi products such as ConsenSys’ MetaMask might be adopted as universally among Irish people as other fintech products have been, McEvoy is resolute in his belief that this technology could become as ubiquitous as PayPal.
Globally, crypto wallet MetaMask now has more than 21m active users, which represents a 38-fold increase on 2020.
“We want our technology in the hands of as many users as possible,” McEvoy says. “We’d love to get to 100m monthly active users as soon as we can.”
ConsenSys is in a phase of “rapid growth” at the moment, McEvoy says. The company recently announced that it had secured $200m in funding, valuing it at $3.2bn.
This growth could well translate into jobs for people in Ireland. Referring to a recent jobs announcement that declared it would be hiring for 400 new roles, McEvoy explains that the company’s remote-first policy means many positions could be taken by workers in Ireland.
“We’re not saying that we’re looking for just QA or DevOps people in Dublin and then product leads or PMs in Paris, and HR people in London, or anything like that. These are 400 jobs and the vast majority of them are remote-first roles, so they can be performed anywhere.”
McEvoy, who leads the company’s Dublin office, says there has been a “huge supply of engineering talent here” going back 20 years. He recalls working for Google in the 2000s and hearing about engineers coming to Dublin from other tech hubs like Istanbul, Rome and Moscow without so much as an interview, “knowing that they would get a job because there’s a huge demand here”.
“I think in terms of blockchain specifically, [Ireland] really has become something of a blockchain hub,” he adds, mentioning other players Coinbase, Kraken, Gemini and Crypto.com that have recently set up bases in Dublin. Their expansion into Ireland has been aided by the “stable regulatory regime” and “Governmental support for blockchain,” McEvoy believes.
“Dublin has always been a key delivery hub for a global client base. There’s a lot of product development in Dublin, a lot of delivery.” The company’s former MD Lory Kehoe told SiliconRepublic.com something similar back in 2018.
The mission is remote
While ConsenSys has an office in Dublin, it hasn’t been used since last March. McEvoy says the team has found ways to both connect and switch off in this remote-first world. He thinks flexible working can be “exciting” as it means he can catch up with global colleagues in different time zones.
“To wind down, we’ve been having what we call ‘productivity zero’ days. And we have a number of these days throughout the year where we don’t have meetings and employees are encouraged to not Slack message people … So, that’s been really, really good, just in terms of work-life balance, and I think it does help productivity as well.”
So, what qualities is ConsenSys looking for in potential new hires for the team? According to McEvoy, the ideal candidate is someone “who’s intellectually diverse and likes the idea of working on Web3 and building infrastructure and applications for the Web3 ecosystem”.
“Our mission is all about unlocking the collaborative power of communities by making Web3 universally easy to use, access and build on. We want more developers using Infura. We want more users on MetaMask. And we have a number of NFT projects in the pipeline, CBDC projects, DeFi projects, really across the whole blockchain spectrum.
“More and more people I meet are au fait with blockchain and the crypto space,” he says, adding that he considers his parents as a “litmus test” of the familiarity of the public with new technology. His father-in-law, a farmer from Mayo, and even the trainer at his gym have had conversations about crypto with him, while his brother-in-law is “obsessed”.
Perhaps Web3 will go the way of the iPhone in 10 years’ time. The future of tech is anyone’s guess, but the consensus is that the future of the workplace will be flexible.
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