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People of Web3
Catherine Shyu Sullivan

Catherine Shyu Sullivan

Senior Product Manager at Coinbase

Catherine leads products at Coinbase and is also a photography NFT creator.

What is your background?

I’ve worked in Product for over 10 years now in both B2B and B2C roles. I started off my career leading products in marketing tech (SendGrid, Google) but made a move into fintech and crypto (ShapeShift, Coinbase) over recent years when I saw how much the underlying technology was enabling entirely new use cases in every industry. I originally double majored in Economics and Media Studies at UC Berkeley. 

When I’m not working, I run my own landscape & travel photography business selling prints and NFTs of my work.

How did you become interested in web3/crypto?

Cryptokitties was surprisingly my entryway into crypto. It was one of the first NFT projects and showcased new use cases for crypto, which back then was still mainly used as an investment vehicle. From there, I started learning more about the Ethereum network and was amazed at what could be built on it. 

Denver, CO where I lived at the time also had a robust crypto community, so a few friends already working in the space encouraged me to take the red pill and join them. 

What is your role and what do you do?

I lead a consumer-facing team at Coinbase that enables new ways to pay with crypto. We have a number of zero-to-one products in the works, but most recently launched a crypto gifting product that allows you to introduce friends and family to both new crypto assets as well as NFT artists that are featured on the cards.

How did you approach your web3/crypto job search?

I thought about my web3 job search across a few vectors: what I personally wanted to work on, and what I wanted from the company I joined.

Yourself

  • Area of focus: The web3 industry is large enough now that there are specific areas you can focus on if you want. exchanges, L1/L2 blockchains, NFT marketplaces, wallets, and more are all verticals that have plenty of companies playing in. 
  • Risk appetite: What is your own risk appetite for your next company? Do you believe the companies you’re interested in can make it through a bear market? Crypto is no stranger to them, and the crypto market in particular goes through fast cycles. 

The Company (or DAO)

  • Stage of Company: Do you want to work at a pre-seed startup trying to find product/market fit, a scaling company or a large established company? This decision can often be made with your risk appetite decision from above. 
  • Team: When you talk to the team, do you think you’d want to spend 8-10hrs a day with them? Would they push you out of your comfort zone and help you grow? 
  • Growth Potential: What has the team shipped in the past year, and have their decisions been strategically sound? Do you trust the leadership team to steer the company to success? If you’re going to be one of the founders, do you think the market has unsolved problems you can address? Essentially, how much and how fast do you think the company can grow? The more it grows, the more opportunities you’ll get. 

I had been through the 2018 crypto bear market so I wanted to join a company that knew how to weather the storms. Additionally, I knew I wanted to work at a B2C company that 1) was going through hypergrowth and 2) I believed was generational and would redefine finance across the board. That criteria defined most of my job search, and from there I optimized for a great manager. 

What was the hiring process like?

Coinbase has one of the most straightforward hiring processes of any crypto company. We have quite a lot of ex-FAANG talent, so our interview process for each role largely follows the standard in tech. You don’t need crypto experience to join Coinbase (but you are expected to become an expert in it for your role), so it’s a great entry point into web3. 

Any tips for people looking to make a similar transition?

  1. Think deeply about your own priorities for your career, and what you would want out of any company you join – not just a web3 company. 
  2. Narrow down your target list of companies by stage of company you want to work at, web3 vertical you’d want to focus on, and the growth potential of each company.
  3. Start applying and reach out to people at the company. The methods of engagement may be different for web3 - you might have better luck reaching founders on Twitter, Discord, etc. rather than LinkedIn.

Most of all, don’t give up! New companies in web3 are being started every day, and even large companies like Facebook and Microsoft are paying attention with their forays into NFTs and the Metaverse. Additionally, you can join DAOs to gain web3 experience and start contributing right away. If you want to work in web3, you can get a job there – or, start your own company!

Sign up to get our best web3 guides and learn how you can make the transition.