This is an opinion editorial by Peter Conley, product advocate at Vercel and contributor for Bitcoin Magazine.
How big can Bitcoin jobs, infrastructure, and opportunity grow overall? Not “crypto” as a whole – just Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin network is growing at the same rate as the internet.
We are well aware of the importance of the “monetary value” of this network. As of this writing, bitcoin has a global market capitalization of approximately $445 billion. What about the size of the “employment value” it can produce?
In 1999, the title of iOS engineer did not exist. If you do a basic search on LinkedIn, you’ll find over 33,000 open positions with that title alone. These are open positions, not the number of people already employed in that position. Back in 2002, React front-end developer jobs didn’t exist. On LinkedIn you will find over 47,000 open positions at the time of writing. Same with “AWS Engineer” – non-existent in 2004. Now? 203,000 job offers. Go where I’m coming from?
A similar trend is happening in the Bitcoin space. In 2013, the positions of Wallet Mining and Communications Manager, Lightning Infrastructure Engineer, and Bitcoin Mining Operations Manager did not exist. Not one. There are now dozens, if not hundreds of these types of positions available.
What will these opportunities look like in 2038? Will a LinkedIn (or equivalent) search for “Lightning Engineer” return more than 10,000 results?
Breaking down the Bitcoin sub-sectors and potential Bitcoin career paths
Let’s explore Bitcoin’s current sub-sectors to showcase existing and future opportunities:
We are still ahead. If Bitcoin is the Internet, it’s 1997. People will need useful educational content to understand the importance of Bitcoin and how to buy, trade, store, and transact with it.
Do you remember the 1990s when people were trying to explain to you how important the internet was going to be? Remember when major news anchors didn’t know what email was? Remember when Dave Letterman laughed in Bill Gates’ face when he tried to explain the importance of the internet?
We’re in the exact same place on the timeline if you map Bitcoin across the internet – it’s pretty much the same story. For this reason, the market will need great communicators to educate the public about the importance of bitcoin.
Bitcoin Mining Jobs
Examples of mining companies are Cathedra, Marathon and Compass Mining. Currently, the Bitcoin mining sector has the largest number of public companies and the largest measurable market capitalization compared to other types of Bitcoin companies.
Bitcoin mining could potentially be the largest sub-segment, both in terms of market capitalization and number of employees, simply because the bitcoin mining process requires a large amount of physical infrastructure and capital expenditure.
Bitcoin Engineering Jobs
Inventions that we cannot foresee will be created in addition to the Bitcoin protocol. Were engineers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ever able to predict e-commerce or online dating when they first invented the internet? Was Alan Turing ever able to predict smartphones after creating the world’s first computer? Now look at how many innovations have been built on top of these fundamental breakthroughs.
I don’t think in 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto ever mentioned concepts like keyphrases, multisignature wallets, and the Lightning Network, but here we are.
The opportunities are endless here. If you can dream it and code it, you can make it happen.
Bitcoin mining pools
In addition to bitcoin mining companies, there are entirely separate “mining pool” companies, such as Foundry. It can be an entire sub-sector in itself. Mining pools are similar to financial services companies and process efficiency companies for miners. Mining pools remove the risk of variable rewards from the mining process and allow more network participants to have a stable flow of sats.
Bitcoin Exchange Jobs
The need to convert USD to BTC will always exist until fiat currencies completely collapse. This is where bitcoin exchanges come in.
The exchanges were among the first – and now the richest – bitcoin companies. Examples are Kraken (launched in 2011) and Coinbase (launched in 2012). Most of them have since pivoted to the broader cryptocurrency offering, but there are exceptions: Swan Bitcoin is a bitcoin-only exchange. Expect this space to expand as other altcoins like Terra/LUNA begin to implode.
Bitcoin Software Wallet Jobs
The extent to which Bitcoin wallets will be integrated into almost any user interface (both physical and digital) will be mind-boggling. They will be as ubiquitous as email addresses or credit card submission forms. Every machine and website that accepts cash, credit cards, bank transfers and PayPal will be supplemented – if not entirely replaced – with bitcoin wallets.
You will also need several types of wallets. One as a quasi-chequing account (hot wallet) and the other as a savings account (cold storage). There will be a need to implement these wallets in existing businesses and there will be a need for education on how to transact with the Lightning Network, how to manage a hot wallet and a cold storage wallet and how to calculate the tax events.
Custodians help users maintain a backup key for multi-signature wallets. They even have departments specializing in this service for institutions, not just for individuals. Two of the biggest players in this space are Casa and Unchained Capital.
Bitcoin hardware wallets
You’ve probably heard of Ledger and Trezor hardware wallets, but have you heard of ColdCard? ColdCard specializes as a bitcoin-only hardware wallet.
Expect the hardware wallet space to become more creative and inventive. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of cold storage approaches.
Bitcoin Node Producers
Bitcoin nodes are the specialized hard drives that house the record of all bitcoin transactions dating back to the first block in January 2009. Several companies manufacture and sell these specialized mini-servers. Some include Nodl, RoninDojo, and The Bitcoin Machine.
As bitcoin’s market capitalization grows, more people will get skinned in the game, which will inspire more people to decentralize and protect the network.
Physical Bitcoin Products
The sky is the limit for physical Bitcoin products. Opendime is a great example.
Other examples include Coinkite’s BLOCKCLOCK. Then there are steel-based devices for backing up keys like Codl’s Punchplate or CypherSafe’s CypherWheel.
Bitcoin “bridge” services
Professional services won’t go away, they’ll just transition to the bitcoin standard. People will still need in-person help to transition to the financial system, such as Bitcoin cold storage consulting.
New paths are new business opportunities. A good example would be the mortgage market. Are you rich in bitcoins but poor in fiat assets and trying to get a mortgage? Look no further than Hoseki, an emerging technology to prove your assets without giving up custody.
As new needs arise, more and more business solutions and full-time work opportunities will arise to help others integrate into the Bitcoin network.
This is a guest post by Peter Conley. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.