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Digital Asset Human Capital Trends Brief - December 2019


The digital asset industry grew from a nascent cluster of startups in 2016 to a high growth, professional space with 20,000
employees, burgeoning with fresh capital in 2019. In addition to the growing workforce, the digital asset space has an
actively traded market with $700 billion in volume traded in 2019. The five largest cryptocurrency networks1 by market
capitalization settled $950 billion in 2019.

The growth has been concentrated, with 85% of professionals being employed by exchanges, development firms, or
mining firms. In 2018, about 40% of companies were legally domiciled in the U.S. and research shows that demand for
employees in the U.S. rose in 2019. However, of the startups that launched a token sale in 2019, only 14% were based in
the U.S., while 38% of companies were domiciled in Singapore. This reflects a trend towards regions with less regulatory
uncertainty.

 
Job Listing Statistics - Digital Assets and Blockchain Industry

● 48 firms with 100 or more employees


● Largest employer: Huobi Global​, an Asia-based
digital asset exchange
● 67% ​of the largest employers are ​domiciled outside
of the U.S.

Two of the five largest employers globally are domiciled in the


U.S. Coinbase, a digital asset exchange, is the largest
company by headcount in the U.S., followed by ConsenSys, the
Ethereum venture studio and development firm.

● Nearly 46% of employers with more than 100


employees are cryptocurrency exchanges, while
more than 85% are exchanges, development
firms, or mining firms
● About 40% of 217 firms analyzed were legally
domiciled in the U.S.
○ Other popular regions include
Asia-Pacific, Switzerland, and Europe

The balance of job opportunities between the U.S. and


the rest of the world (RoW) evened out in 2019 from
2018, when there were fewer listings in the U.S.2

1
​Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin
2
​Based on a sample set of over 1,600 job listings. Source: Cryptocurrencyjobs.co
 
DISCLAIMER: T ​his report has been prepared solely for informative purposes and should not be the basis for making investment decisions or be construed as a recommendation to engage in investment
transactions or be taken to suggest an investment strategy in respect of any financial instruments or the issuers thereof. The Block will not be liable whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising
from the use of this publication/communication or its contents. For the avoidance of doubt, the firms included in the sample were independent of the Blockchain Association’s membership base.
 

Industry job listings exclusive to the U.S. grew 93%, compared to


the 37% growth in job listings in the rest of the world.

Singapore became the go-to jurisdiction for companies with utility


tokens. 38% of projects that launched a token sale in 2019 were
based there. The 37 companies that launched tokens raised
more than $160 million from investors, of which many were retail.

This could be a result of Singapore being known for its


business-friendly practices as well as its progressive
government. Comparatively, only 14% of the companies were
based in the U.S. According to The Block’s survey findings, a
majority of firms believe that regulatory uncertainty constrains
their ability to operate in the U.S. If the trend continues,
Singapore stands to gain additional market share and become a
top hub for industry employment, investment and corresponding
revenue. 

Investment Trends

Nearly 50% of firms that invest in the digital assets


and blockchain industry have offices in the U.S. and
approximately 18% of firms have offices in
Asia-Pacific regions.

It’s not uncommon for U.S.-based investors (e.g.


Galaxy Digital, Arrington XRP Capital and Arca) to
have offshore funds to give exposure to investments
that would otherwise be unavailable as a result of their
domicile.

● $6.7 billion​ invested in the industry during the


last 7 years, 2013 to 2019
● While total venture funding fell 60% from 2018 to 2019, the ​5-year compound annual growth rate is 24%
● The median capital invested in 2019 was nearly ​$3.2 million, an all time high​, up from $2.9 million in 2018
○ While the total number of deals fell, there was an increase in the number of later stage rounds with
correspondingly higher valuations than 2018 

What Digital Asset Firms Are Saying

● 91% of firms​ believe ​unclear regulations and guidelines in the U.S.​ regarding the operation of digital asset
and blockchain businesses are ​barriers to entry
● 43% said that regulatory uncertainty impose burdensome legal costs to their operations
● 91%​ of respondents ​want regulatory clarity​ from U.S. policymakers

 
DISCLAIMER: T ​his report has been prepared solely for informative purposes and should not be the basis for making investment decisions or be construed as a recommendation to engage in investment
transactions or be taken to suggest an investment strategy in respect of any financial instruments or the issuers thereof. The Block will not be liable whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising
from the use of this publication/communication or its contents. For the avoidance of doubt, the firms included in the sample were independent of the Blockchain Association’s membership base.