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People of Web3
Jason Shah

Jason Shah

Product Lead at Alchemy

Jason leads product and growth at Alchemy. Check out his newsletter at 0xshah.substack.com

How did you become interested in web3/crypto?

I became interested in web3 in three stages:

Observer: In 2012, I bought some Bitcoin without fully understanding how crypto works. After the 2013 crash, I forgot about crypto for some time.

Learner: A few years later, I discovered Ethereum and got really excited that it was programmable. I started going down the rabbit hole by reading whitepapers and trying out different products. I realized that a massive change was happening right under my nose and I wanted to be a part of it.

Builder. In 2021, I had more time at home due to the pandemic. I started using that time to learn about smart contracts, Solidity, and web3 development. In mid-2021, I spent 3 months meeting over twenty web3 teams before deciding to join Alchemy to drive product and growth.

What skills do you need as a web3 PM?

I think core PM skills like product sense and execution are still relevant. However, there’s a whole new set of skills that you have to learn in web3:

  1. You have to listen and engage with the community. Optimizing conversion and revenue funnels at the expense of what the community wants doesn’t work.
  2. You have to learn fast and execute ruthlessly. In my web2 PM job, I wrote strategy docs that would get an endless stream of comments before anything got done. In web3, people don’t have time to comment on my docs because they’re too busy executing. The space moves so fast - you have to stay nimble.
  3. It’s also good to be technical and creative. Being technical helps you understand the infra and being creative helps you define new use cases.

I've found that user needs often don't align with business needs in web2. How is web3 different?

Yes, in web2, it's often company-first instead of community-first.

For example, if you’re optimizing for engagement, you might have a company goal that you want to hit. But often, what you’re really doing is just driving addictive behavior that’s actually bad for users and communities.

In web3, I think there are technical and cultural restrictions in place to avoid this. For example, protocols and DAOs often make major decisions through an open community vote instead of behind closed doors (e.g., Snapshot). Web3 also has a WAGMI (we are going [to] make it) ethos. “We” means not just the team or the company but the entire community.

All of this makes it harder for you to build a product that only benefits a small group of people.

How does the core team interact with the broader community in web3?

Many web3 protocols start out centralized with a core team that has an initial vision. They then decentralize progressively by adding contributors, issuing tokens to the community, and setting up governance voting. Uniswap and Ethereum Name Service are great examples of this.

What's your advice for PMs looking to transition to web3?

My advice is to treat your web3 job search like being a founder. 

In web2, the typical process is:

  1. Apply to PM jobs
  2. Talk to a recruiter
  3. Do an interview loop

In web3, it’s less about “I want a PM job” and more about “this company has X, Y, Z needs that I can help with.”

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Do your homework. Start by understanding the space and look into projects that you’re excited about. Don’t worry about whether they have a PM opening.
  2. Join the project’s community and reach out to the team with some thoughts on how you can contribute. Work backward from what needs you think they have.
  3. Don’t wait for permission to start adding value.

If you have low lego and a willingness to just start contributing, you will get noticed. Those are two common qualities that all web3 teams look for.

Can you tell me more about your personal job search?

Yeah for me it started with why. I want to:

  1. Work in web3 for the next 10-20 years of my life. 
  2. Optimize for fun, adventure, and impact vs. chasing money or promotions. 
  3. Work on a team that impacts all of web3 vs. a specific segment.

Next, I cut the space into different categories (e.g., DeFi, NFT, tools) and layers (e.g., infra, applications). 

I ruled out working for a specific app (e.g., NFT marketplace) or protocol (e.g., L1 chain) because I want to have an impact on ALL of web3. This space is early and I didn’t want to lock myself into a specific ecosystem.

I decided to join Alchemy because the team works with almost every web3 chain and protocol. I would get a chance to build relationships across the ecosystem that would be really valuable for the next 10-20 years. It’s also a small team full of great engineers and ex-founders. 

You were on a path to climb the web2 PM ladder. Was it hard to give that up for this new direction?

Well, I’m genuinely excited about web3 and feel lucky to be able to take a risk to pursue my passion.

If you’re a smart, hardworking, person with good values, no one really cares if you take a risk to jump off the traditional ladder to try something meaningful. The narrow path that we feel we have to travel on is mostly imaginary. Frankly, I haven’t seen anyone go from web2 to web3 and decide to go back.

If you think about it, the amount of talent that’s locked in web2 companies because of titles or RSUs is insane. Like your GPA, I don’t think it really matters long-term whether you’re L6, L7, or whatever. 

Talent should be a public good.

In web3, I feel unleashed — I can do my best work freely.

Do you think people should get PM experience first before making the leap to web3?

You don’t need to be a web2 PM before making a successful transition into web3. If you’re interested in web3, get in as early as possible.

Join an early team and start building even without the PM title - it could have a multiplier effect on your career. A lot of web3 teams are actually more skeptical of someone with 10 years of FAANG PM experience.

Can you share some closing thoughts for people looking to make the transition?

Sure, here are some thoughts:

  1. Learn as much as you can. It’s OK to not understand everything. Ask for help. Talk to friends who are already in this space or reach out to people on Twitter.
  2. Start building. For example, you can use tools like Alchemy to deploy a smart contract or Thirdweb to do an NFT drop.
  3. Be proactive. Instead of waiting to hear from recruiters, you need to be proactive. Seek out teams that you are excited about and start contributing to their communities. You will get recognized and you will find your role.

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