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Continuing from where we left off in Part 1: Pivoting to Web3 Careers: A Guide for Web2 Professionals, this installment explores the Bitcoin-only maximalist culture, a significant aspect within the realm of Web3. The web3 ecosystem is characterized by its diverse cultural differences, which have a significant impact on career choices within the space. Bitcoin-focused companies, while not all run by Bitcoin maximalists, inevitably exist within the political nature of this industry. These companies prioritize hiring the best candidates for the job, irrespective of their personal coin ownership. However, understanding the cultural nuances and values of Bitcoin maximalists is essential for anyone considering a career in this domain. In this second installment of the series, we provide a crash course on Bitcoin maxi culture to bring you up to speed.
Our way or the highway
In light of recent scandals in the crypto space and the unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, which many believe to be contributing to today’s high inflation, Bitcoin maximalists find some validation for their self-assuredness and “I told you so” attitudes. Startups dedicated solely to Bitcoin adhere to an all-or-nothing perspective, firmly believing that all other protocols will eventually operate within the Bitcoin ecosystem. So what exactly distinguishes Bitcoin from other blockchain protocols?
Security: There is an unwavering emphasis on security. Bitcoin enthusiasts prioritize security above all else, resulting in minimal changes to the base layer, except for essential upgrades like SegWit. Unlike Ethereum, Bitcoin’s protocol layer undergoes fewer upgrades. Additionally, Bitcoiners always opted for a layered approach with their L2 protocol, known as the Lightning Network. This innovative solution has served as an inspiration for Ethereum’s L2 teams, such as Arbitrum and Optimism, who have followed suit in implementing their own layered protocols.
Decentralization: A fundamental principle that ensures no central authority can control the network, promoting autonomy and eliminating single points of failure. This principle that started in Bitcoin is now shared by the entire web3 ecosystem.
Limited Supply: 21 million bitcoin
Immutability: with no exceptions. Bitcoin maxis criticized Ethereum for its decision to reverse transactions on the Ethereum blockchain following a vulnerability exploit in the smart contract code of the first DAO on Ethereum. The attacker stole approximately 3.6 million Ether (ETH), which was valued at around $50 million at that time. The incident had significant consequences for the Ethereum community and led to a controversial hard fork, resulting in the creation of two separate blockchains: The new forked code became Ethereum (ETH)and the immutable code that continued is called Ethereum Classic (ETC).
Censorship Resistance: Transactions on the Bitcoin network cannot be censored, making it an open and accessible financial system for all. Bitcoiner love to say “Bitcoin is also for your enemies.” Bitcoin maxis also argue that this principle can be reversed within other blockchain protocols.
Self Verification: Bitcoiners faced their own forking controversy due to ideological differences within the community. Known as the Bitcoin hash wars, in 2018, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) emerged as a result of disagreements over the Bitcoin community’s decision to maintain a 1 MB block size.
This size constraint was implemented in 2010 to help mitigate potential spam and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on the Bitcoin network. It also enables Bitcoin users to independently verify the authenticity of transactions and the supply of Bitcoin without relying on third-party blockchain explorers by running a full Bitcoin node.
If you have come across any battle worn Bitcoin maxis, they may have strong antagonistic views toward Coinbase and other “centralized’ crypto businesses because during the bitcoin hashwars in 2018, these crypto-native businesses sided with the Bitcoin Cash consortium. These centralized crypto-native business models were also very late to implement The Lightning Protocol ; which is a native DeFi protocol to bitcoin. Bitcoin Maxis saw both these decisions or lack thereof; as an indirect attack and lack of support for Bitcoin. What do you think? Do bitcoiners have a point?
Trustlessness: You will find that web3 has its own unique language based on the innovation of the bitcoin protocol. This term means that trust is minimized through cryptographic proofs and consensus mechanisms, eliminating the need for intermediaries.
Fungibility: The interchangeability and indistinguishability of each Bitcoin are vital aspects that ensure the equal value and usability of all coins. Bitcoin maximalists place great importance on this principle. They have expressed concerns about certain startups, like Chainalysis, which they believe pose a threat to this fundamental aspect. These startups are criticized for flagging and marking coins that violate international sanctions or are involved in money laundering, as such actions are seen as compromising the core principles of the fungibility of all bitcoin.
Major Bitcoin players
Below is an overview of the different types of Bitcoin players and systems that you can look to for employment.
Lightning Network: The Lightning Network is a layer 2 protocol built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, aiming to enable faster and more scalable transactions. It uses off-chain channels for instant micropayments and helps reduce transaction fees, making it easier for users to send small amounts of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Ordinals: Similar to the controversial nature Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have faced for their potential for artistic plagiarism, ordinals on Bitcoin have raised concerns about the integrity and fungibility of the blockchain. Both concepts introduce a unique and collectible aspect to the digital realm, allowing for the ownership and trading of distinct digital assets. However, these innovations have sparked debates among enthusiasts and experts regarding their long-term implications for the underlying technology and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. The controversies surrounding both ordinals and NFTs serve as a reminder of the ongoing discussions and challenges faced by the digital asset community as it navigates the evolving landscape of blockchain-based collectibles.
Bitcoin-only exchanges: Some cryptocurrency exchanges focus exclusively on Bitcoin trading, offering users a platform to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin without the presence of other cryptocurrencies. Examples of such exchanges include Bisq and Hodl Hodl.
Bitcoin-only brokers: Bitcoin brokers serve as intermediaries between buyers and sellers, simplifying the process of purchasing and selling Bitcoin for fiat currencies or other assets. They often provide additional services such as storage, lending, and staking. Some notable Bitcoin brokers include River Financial and Swan Bitcoin.
Mining operations: Bitcoin mining is a crucial aspect of the ecosystem, as it secures the network and processes transactions. Various companies and organizations are involved in mining operations, contributing to the network’s overall hashrate.
Developer tools and infrastructure: As the Bitcoin ecosystem matures, more tools and resources are being developed to assist developers in building applications and services on top of the Bitcoin network. These tools can include software development kits (SDKs), libraries, and documentation that make it easier for developers to interact with the Bitcoin protocol.
Education and community: An important aspect of the Bitcoin ecosystem is its vibrant community, which is actively engaged in educating newcomers, promoting adoption, and fostering a healthy environment for discussion and collaboration. This includes bitcoin only podcasts, newsletters, online forums, meetups and conferences .
Now that you are armed with the main bitcoin maximalist principles, you are better equipped to navigate the career opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in the Bitcoin industry. Whether you choose to work in a Bitcoin-only startup, engage with Bitcoin-focused companies, or explore other avenues within the web3 ecosystem, your understanding of the cultural landscape will enable you to make informed decisions and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of this transformative technology.
Remember to remain open-minded and adaptable as the web3 ecosystem continues to evolve, embracing new ideas, protocols, and cultural perspectives. The career landscape in Bitcoin and web3 as a whole is dynamic and offers exciting opportunities for innovation and growth. With your newfound understanding, you are well-positioned to embark on a rewarding and impactful career journey within the Bitcoin industry.
Stay tuned for the next installment of web3 protocols labeled the “Ethereum killers”. Nako Mbelle is the Founder of Fintech Recruiters and a web3 career coach. She can be found at web3careercoach or Fintech Recruiters, LinkedIn and Twitter.