Blockchain engineers are in demand

Demand is off the charts for blockchain talent, and the capital is waiting to back it up. More than $3.7 billion has been raised through ICOs in the United States alone. Blockchain-related chores are the second-fastest growing in today’s labor market; there are now 14 job openings for every one blockchain developer. And as Nick Szabo, the developer who coined “smart contracts, ” pointed out, there is an extreme “ $/ knowledge” ratio in the blockchain space, where capital by far outpaces talent.

Today, Toptal, a marketplace for on-demand tech talent, is publicly launching their blockchain engineering talent vertical out of private beta. In today’s software development scenery, Toptal represents about 50 percentage of on-demand engineering labor by revenue.

Requests for on-demand blockchain talent are skyrocketing. Last year, freelance talent marketplace Upwork assured blockchain rise to the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 skills to its implementation of freelancer billings — a year-over-year increase of more than 35,000 percent. These petitions span ICO advisory services, engineering projects and overall blockchain consultancy.

Since January 2017, the demand for blockchain engineering talent on Toptal has grown 700 percentage, and 40 percentage of the fully managed software development projects requested in the last month necessitate blockchain skills. By diving into the requests Toptal ensures, we can start to paint a better picture of the blockchain development languages and knowledge areas increasing in demand.

The first is Hyperledger Fabric implementation, an open-source enterprise blockchain framework. The second is Ripple development, a payment protocol used for distributed processes for remittances, payments and exchanges. The third is smart contract development with a concentration around Solidity, a smart-contract programming language for Ethereum Virtual Machine.

Taso Du Val, Toptal’s founder and CEO, thinks this sheds some predictions on blockchain development at-large.

“Different types of contracts are going to be disrupted first, ” he said. “Disruption will be in places like asset management, or deals being made that require complex contracting. Pays are so complex, and to work at scale, necessitate the sign-off of not just central banks, but also governments. Payments won’t come first. Contracts don’t need such a sign-off, since they are a lower roadblock to entry. There are less regulatory obstacles, so we will see the contract space get disrupted first.”

Toptal’s launch of blockchain engineering talent in its freelance talent marketplace could be a doubled win. On the one hand, it could help with blockchain ecosystem development overall by cross-pollinating blockchain development projects as on-demand technologists take knowledge from one project to another. Moreover, it is unable to grow the blockchain talent pool overall through Toptal’s engineering skill development program, which helps their existing engineering pool get up to snuff on blockchain.

Toptal’s blockchain engineers are working on projects like the Hashgraph, which addresses scalability issues, and with big public companies like SinglePoint on blockchain consolidations. The variety of clients utilizing Toptal for their projects, and their completely remote workforce spanning 100 countries, signals the further development of blockchain technologists with actual applied experience — Toptal even lets their clients hire them for a contract-to-hire fee.

Toptal’s talent structure aims to also grow the network of skilled blockchain engineers over hour. They co-designed a test and training curriculum with top technologists in blockchain that they use to develop their existing network of technologists. In fact, Toptal find growing the talent force in blockchain as integral to their business today and the only style to meet growing demand. They screen and accept to their talent network the top three percent of technologists, and are looking forward to developing their existing network to be skilled with blockchain.

The founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, thinks “core developers and researchers should be employed by multiple companies or organizations …[ and ]… the knowledge of the technical considerations behind protocol upgrades must be democratized, so that more people can feel comfortable participating in research discussions and blaming protocol changes.”

Vitalik’s vision of the market is a reality reinforced by more projects, implementations and companies demanding blockchain than there are engineers available to work on them.

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Stripe is ending support for bitcoin payments on April 23

Payments platform Stripe will stop supporting bitcoin in April, quoting the cryptocurrency’s volatility and long transaction times , among other things. It’s a logical decision, but one likely to indignation the easily provoked crypto-crowd.

The problems with BTC are hard to deny for anyone who use it regularly. For one thing, entering a transfer into the blockchain may take hours, which is already a bummer for merchant transactions, but during that postpone the value of the transferred BTC may also have changed considerably, making the incorrect fiat dollar value.

Fees have also increased as the value of BTC has risen, something that has stifled commerce and trading use the coin elsewhere as well.

As Stripe’s Tom Karlo points out, the truth is that BTC has evolved to become an asset rather than a currency, and is simply unsuitable for transactions that need to resolve in seconds or minutes at the outside. The platform, he writes, has insured a major decrease in BTC transactions.

Stripe started taking bitcoin back in 2014, after the coin first topped $1,000 and people genuinely started taking it seriously. And the company insists that it remains optimistic about the cryptocurrency ecosystem and name-checks a few projects: Lightning, OmiseGO, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin. And, Karlo writes, Stripe may support Stellar, in which the company has a stake.

Diehard bitcoin types may complain that the option should be remain, that it expenses little to accommodate those who choose to use this method, and that this may be a short-sighted, self-fulfilling prophecy that farther seals the fate of BTC as a transaction medium.

But it seems to me that Stripe is merely being realistic and embracing the ideals of decentralized currency that bitcoin has advanced, though which it failed to attain. Bitcoin must die( as a route to buy stuff, anyway) that cryptocurrency may live!

Stripe is supportive of bitcoin will end on April 23, so live it up until then.

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Russians arrested for ‘mining bitcoin’ at nuclear facility

Employees at the national nuclear centre in the city of Sarov tried to use work computers to produce the cryptocurrency

Why is Bitcoins price down to two-month lows?

Crypto investors are seeing red this week. Bitcoin plunged to two-month lows on Thursday, dipping below $9,000 for the first time since November. At the time of writing, Bitcoin had ricochetted back up to the $9,200 level, down from weekly highs simply above $12,000. This week has seen coins across the board in the red — a sign that investors are jumping ship to fiat currencies this time instead of swapping into altcoins as we’ve seen in the recent past.

At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market cap weighed in at $459 billion, down from January highs around $830 billion. It’s a contraction to be sure, but not a low for the last 30 days( that low came on January 18 ).

Is this the bitter end for Bitcoin? For cryptos? Well , no, probably not. Get your head bolt on right and you’ll should be noted that( for better or worse) many coins have watched unprecedented growth in the last six months to a year, even with Bitcoin’s price halved from holiday highs closer to $20,000. On the working day last year, Bitcoin was sitting pretty at $982. At the height of December’s craze, most reasonable crypto-watchers could agree that the price was overheated and there was only one way for it to go in the short term. Still, in the thick of the present correction, Bitcoin’s longer-term growth is anyone’s guess.

Cryptocurrency die-hards expecting the price to bounce back, even partially, “il be seeing” these tanking numbers as the perfect entry phase for getting in low and maximizing gains. Late speculators who got in during the mass crypto hysteria of the holiday season aren’t likely to have such steady hands, a factor that’s likely contributing to the slide.

So what’s causing the slide to begin with? As usual , no one thing can be blamed for Bitcoin’s current downturn, but recent skittishness around a subpoena for Bitfinex and fears around Tether — a kind of cryptocurrency equivalent to USD that matches the dollar one to one — likely taken into account in. Recent news that Facebook would ban ads for ICOs probably didn’t help either. And it seems like every day a new Ponzi scheme gets busted, hurling yet more doubt on the credibility of plenty of less than legit ICOs.

Even beyond news cycle highs and lows, Bitcoin has seen a few mid-January dips before, though 2017 ’s Bitcoin behavior surely broke from any seasonal patterns of the past.

Still, these growing aches are far from surprising. As cryptocurrencies mature — assuming they continue to do so — regulatory “bad” news will become more common. Countries across the globe will continue to struggle to accommodate their citizens’ sudden those who are interested in digital currencies — or not, in the case of India, which simply decided to ban them outright. Unsurprisingly, headlines like these inspire a sense of premonition among cryptocurrency fanatics wondering which country will be next to come down hard. Fear, perhaps justifiable anxiety for many speculators with plenty to lose, amplifies each new regulatory revelation. But for cryptocurrencies to grow out of the present scam-laden chaotic epoch, a thorough house cleaning is healthy.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have also looked less responsive to positive news in the latter half of January compared to their relative buoyancy during December’s dizzying highs. Then, every little positive news blip seemed to push the prices higher.

Bitcoin aside, some altcoins might just be adjusting from overheated, overhyped December highs. Ripple is an excellent example of this, hovering around$ 1 Thursday, a price that’s five times its November value and only seems bad after XRP flew a bit too close to the sunshine with sudden early January highs above $3. Ethereum is also faring pretty well, all things deemed, down from all-time highs above $1,400 but holding most of its newly built value after doubling in price from December costs around $500.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens as we move into next week’s Senate Banking Committee hearings on cryptocurrency. Titled “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission, ” the open hearings will air on February 6 at 10:00 Eastern day. It’s possible that the upcoming discussion in Congress has traders nervous, but ultimately variables from all over the globe combine to affect the market every day.

For anyone considering riding out the present correction, a little historical view — in this case, even a few months’ worth — could go a long way.

Disclosure: The writer holds a small posture in some cryptocurrencies. Regrettably, it is not enough for a Lambo .

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Bitcoin biggest bubble in history, says economist who predicted 2008 crash

Nouriel Roubini calls cryptocurrency the mother of all bubbles as it falls below $8,000

Coinbase hires a new VP of Operations to lead its customer service effort

Coinbase only announced they’re hiring Tina Bhatnagar as VP of Operations and Technology to lead all operational squads at Coinbase and GDAX.

But perhaps more relevant right now is the fact that her responsibilities will include overseeing the fast-growing startup’s customer service division.

It’s no secret that Coinbase is in need of some assist when it comes to support and customer service. The company has struggled to manage both technological and customer support operations during the massive spikes in cost, new users and transactions over the last few months.

Tina Bhatnagar

But Coinbase isn’t blind to these shortfalls, and about six months ago unveiled a plan to revamp their customer service experience and roll out phone supporting and shorter response times. They also recently hired Asiff Hirji, former COO at TD Ameritrade and promoted Dan Romero as GM of Coinbase to oversee all of Coinbase’s retail platform.

Bhatnagar comes from Twitter, where she was VP of Operations and User Services and helped scale the customer support team from 20 people to thousands across six offices.

When deciding to join Coinbase, I was not blind to the challenges ahead of me. But when I gratified Brian and the team, I knew it would be a truly joint effort to run our customer operations how we envisioned it. It’s an exciting day, with Coinbase and crypto in the public eye more than ever before, but that also means it’s an even more critical moment to stake our position. And this can only happen if we do right by our clients every single day.

— Tina Bhatnagar, VP of Operations and Technology at Coinbase.

In a blog post, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong noted that Bhatnagar will work to meet the company’s commitments to double their support team over the next three months, as well as roll out 24/7 phone support to all customers by Q2 2018.

Coinbase also noted that last week when cryptocurrencies all sank around 20 percentthe startup again find record volume and traffic, but was able to meet demand and avoid any major outages or down time.

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50 Cent realizes hes a Bitcoin millionaire thanks to sales of a 2014 album

Call him the ultimate hodler. After being one of the first musicians to accept Bitcoin all the way back in 2014, Rapper 50 Cent( a.k.a. Curtis Jackson) appears to have accumulated a small fortune in the volatile digital currency.

As TMZ first reported, and the man himself seems to have confirmed, 50 Cent left his Bitcoin sales untouched until rediscovering them some time lately. At the time, he reportedly raked in around 700 bitcoins in album sales for his fifth album, Animal Ambition, which launched in June 2014. TechCrunch reached out to confirm the numbers and will update when we hear back.

On the date of the album’s launching, one bitcoin was worth $657. If reports of his 700 bitcoin haul are accurate, then 50 made around $460,000 in sales at the time — not bad.

Today, that same sum of bitcoin is worth $7,770, 000.

50 appeared to confirm the news in an Instagram caption: “Not Bad for a kid from South Side, I’m so proud of me, ” followed by the comment “I’m a keep it real I forgot I did that shit. Lol.” A later Instagram post depicted bitcoin imagery with the caption “all moneys is good fund over here.”

In 2015, 50 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructured his finances, agreeing to pay off $23 million in debt with a five-year plan. Last year, he reportedly finished paying off the $23 million early after receiving some fund in a settlement. Back in 2011, the rapper debuted a decide of headphones marketed with his personal brand and became the CEO of his own audio company, SMS Audio.

50 may have stumbled onto his crypto-millions, but that doesn’t diminish his early vision to support the then still reasonably obscure digital currency. Still, cryptocurrency fortunes can change at a moment’s notification. We’d be curious to know if he plans to cash out or live that #hodler life.

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Robinhood adds zero-fee cryptocurrency trading and tracking

No-commission stock trading app Robinhood will let you buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum without any added transaction fees starting in February, compared to Coinbase’s 1.5 to 4 percent fees in the US. And as of today Robinhood will let all users track the price, news, and put up alerts on those and 14 other top crypto coins, including Litecoin and Ripple.

“We’re planning to operate this business on a break-even basis and we don’t plan to profit from it for the foreseeable future” says Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev. “The value of Robinhood Crypto is in growing our client base and better servingour existing customers.”

By basically employing crypto trading as a loss leader instead of its primary business like Coinbase and other apps, Robinhood could substantially expand beyond the 3 million users it already has. Simplifying trading and tracking could bolster Bitcoin and Ethereum. And by blending it with traditional stock, ETF, and option trading in a single app, Robinhood could further legitimize the cryptocurrency furor. The two trading worlds could cross-pollinate, dragging even more people into the crypto scene.

Robinhood founders Baiju Bhatt( left) and Vladamir Tenev( right)

Many of the startups dealing in crypto are upstarts with questionable track records. But five-year-old Robinhood has raised $176 million from top investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Index, and NEA that now value the company at $1.3 billion. There’s clear long-term is beneficial for rolling up crypto traders and using the feature as a wedge to get them to hold money with Robinhood where it earns interest, and pay for the Robinhood Gold premium tier for$ 6 to $200 a month that lets them borrow between $1,000 and $50,000.

Here’s how Robinhood Crypto works. You can instantly transfer up to $1000 from your connected bank account( more if you have a Gold membership ), with additional funds coming over slower ACH transfer. For smaller merchants, that could eliminate the annoying postpones on other platforms that can induce you miss a low price you want to buy up. The whole Crypto section of Robinhood is styled with an 80 s Tron design to denote the 24 -hour trading window, compared to its day and night themes for when traditional stock market are open or closed.

When you place a buy or sell order, Robinhood gives you an estimated cost, connects to a slew of trading venues, exchanges, and market centers to find the lowest cost, and uses its economies of scale to improve to score better costs over day. To counter market volatility, Robinhood puts a “collar” around your trade so if it can’t execute it at close to the estimated cost, it waits for the price to return or lets you know.

And in case the price of a coin skyrockets or plummets, you can place restriction orders to set a price where you automatically buy or sell. The full list of coins you can track is Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Monero, Dash, Stellar, Qtum, Bitcoin Gold, OmiseGo, NEO, Lisk, and Dogecoin.

Only BTC and ETH will be available for trading when that rolls out to waves of users starting in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire in February, though more will be added. “We’re exceedingly selective about the cryptos we’re making available on the platform” says Tenev. “We’re introducing those first because these are the most mature coins that people are trading these days. Multiple hours people have declared them dead and they’ve come back stronger than ever.”

To back-up the new Robinhood Crypto feature, the company is adding new two-factor authentication options including integrations with authenticator apps to ensure people don’t get their wallets stolen and dumped. “There are several senior world-class people that we’ve hired lately that are building the system in-house” says Tenev. Still, the move paints a giant target on Robinhood’s back. If the company gets hacked, or individual users get robbed, it could tarnish the fintech startup’s reputation.

Demand for the product was clear, though. 100,000 of Robinhood’s users were regularly seaching for crypto pricing and trading in its app, and 95% of those surveyed said they’d invest in cryptos if the product supported it. Robinhood even had to send a cease-and-desist to “Cobinhood”, a vying crypto trading app that cribbed its name and created $10 million in an ICO.

Judging by the choices of two top startups, you could see this week as a sign of cryptocurrency’s changing intent. Yesterday Stripe removed Bitcoin as a payment alternative on its platform, and now Robinhood is adopting trading. “People are thinking about cryptos less from a payments standpoint and more from an assets investment standpoint” Tenev explains.

Robinhood Crypto features a Tron-style 80 s design motif

As for whether he’s personally invested in the crypto scene, Tenev admits “I’m a dabbler, definitely, but I wouldn’t say that it’s all that significant.” But it’s a good fit for his business, which utilized a lean engineering team to fell stock trading fees to zero while competitors like Scottrade and E* trade can charge over$ 6 per trade to encompass their marketing and expansive retail footprint with huge overhead. Now Robinhood has handled $100 billion in transactions, saving its users over$ 1 billion in fees.

“[ Cryptocurrency] sets power that’s historically been held by financial institutions in the hands of the person or persons. I think that lines up immediately with Robinhood’s mission to democratize the financial system” Tenev tells me, concluding “We’re an established company and we can handle it”. The confidence to burst into the wild west of crypto could either tank his startup with a massive security fail or greatly boost its traction by alligning with what’s become a culture phenomenon.

Disclosures: The author of such articles owns small positions in Bitcoin and Ethereum, and knows Robinhood’s founders from college .

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Bitcoin won’t last in world of finance, warns Nobel-winning economist

Davos speakers round on cryptocurrency as Robert Shiller calls it a clever idea with an impermanent future

Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000

Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a fascinating paper on Bitcoin price manipulation. Entitled “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” and appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Monetary Economics the paper describes to what degree the Bitcoin ecosystem are dominated by bad actors.

To many it’s been obvious that the Bitcoin markets are, at the very least, being manipulated by one or two big players. “This paper identifies and analyzes potential impacts of suspicious trading activity on the Mt. Gox Bitcoin currency exchange, in which approximately 600,000 bitcoins( BTC) valued at $188 million were fraudulently acquired, ” the researchers wrote. “During both periods, the USD-BTC exchange rate rose by an average of four percent on days when suspicious trades took place, compared to a slight decline on days without suspicious activity. Based on rigorous analysis with extensive robustness checks, the paper demonstrates that the suspicious trading activity likely caused the unprecedented spike in the USD-BTC exchange rate in late 2013, when the rate jumped from around $150 to more than $1,000 in two months.”

The team found that many instances of cost manipulation happened simply because the market was very thin for various cryptocurrencies including early Bitcoin. “Despite the huge increase in marketplace capitalisation, similar to the bitcoin marketplace in 2013( the period examined ), markets for these other cryptocurrencies are very thin. The number of cryptocurrencies has increased from approximately 80 over the period examined to 843 today! Many of these markets are thin and subject to cost manipulation.”

The manipulation happened chiefly via two bots, Markus and Willy, that seemed to be performing valid trades but did not actually own the bitcoin the latter are utilizing. During the Mt. Gox hack a number of these bots were able to create fake trades and make off with millions while manipulating the price of BTC.

The publicly reported trading volume at Mt. Gox included the fraudulent transactions, thereby signaling to the market that heavy trading activity was taking place. Indeed, the paper afterwards shows that even if the fraudulent activity is set aside, average trading volume on all major exchanges trading bitcoins and USD was much higher on days the bots were active. The associated increase in “non-bot” trading was, of course, profitable for Mt. Gox, since it collected transaction fees.

But the Willy Bot likely served another purpose as well. A theory, initially espoused in a Reddit post shortly after Mt. Gox’s collapse( Anonymous, 2014 b ), is that hackers stole a huge number( approximately 650,000) of bitcoins from Mt. Gox in June 2011 and that the exchange owned Mark Karpales took extraordinary steps to cover up the loss for several years.

The bottom line is simple: if Bitcoin wants to be taken seriously it probably shouldn’t be this easy or legal to manipulate the markets. While decentralization is supposed to replace regulation it’s clear that there is still a route to go before it can be truly taken seriously. “As mainstream finance invests in cryptocurrency assets and as countries take steps toward decriminalize bitcoin as a payment system( as Japan did in April 2017 ), it is important to understand how susceptible cryptocurrency marketplaces are to manipulation. Our survey offer a first examination, ” write the researchers.

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