[Short #87] Recruiting for Web3 pt. 2: Steve Cohen + Pudgy Penguins

Talent looks different these days

One of my favorite things to write about is headlines that don’t get the attention that they probably should. It’s inevitable as we’ve been conditioned over the years to focus on the flashier ones, but that’s where TPan comes in 😉

So here are a couple of headlines I found to be particularly interesting, and what we can take away from them.

Steve Cohen makes moves

Steve Cohen isn’t necessarily a name you need to know, especially if you aren’t in the finance world. However, this hedge fund billionaire ($17.4B to be exact) is making moves in crypto and Web3.

Last Friday, I saw this headline:

The headline is click-baity, but if you read the rest of the article the decision makes a lot more sense:

  • Acidphreak (real name Elias Ladopoulos) is the first portfolio manager for Steve Cohen’s new fund, On-Chain Investments.

  • Acidphreak used to be a hacker in the 90’s and was arrested on a conspiracy charge.

  • After serving his sentence, Acidphreak went into to security engineering and then the finance industry, working on AI and ML techniques.

On top of that, Steve Cohen has been playing in the Web3 space through another fund, Digital.xyz. This play is arguably more mysterious as their website leads to an Instagram profile.

Almost feels like a consumer brand geared towards Gen Z, huh? Let’s poke into the only post with text.

Posted Sept. 13, 2021

The message might be from Mark and Ben, but it looks like one more name is a part of this company.

LinkedIn provides some additional details:

They say to follow the smart money, and it looks like Steve Cohen’s is moving into Web3 and Crypto.

Do you know someone named Steve? If so, subscribe below or share this with a Steve!


Pudgy Penguins’ Advisors

Pudgy Penguins has taken the baton from Cool Cats and is now the NFT brand that is leading the cute meta charge.

Weren’t they left for dead several months ago? Yes, and they are under new management as of April this year:

Over the past several days, the Pudgy Penguins has been making moves, starting with an announcement around mass market toy production.

Luca Netz 🐧 @LucaNetz

First run of Pudgy Toys are in. Refining and then pushing to production 🐧


5:14 PM ∙ Aug 18, 2022


Yesterday, Pudgy Penguins made another announcement around an Advisory Board:

Twitter avatar for @pudgypenguins

Pudgy Penguins @pudgypenguins

Introducing the Pudgy Penguins Advisory Board! Coming from diverse backgrounds in Web2 and Web3, our board will assist in our pursuit to innovate through multiple industries. We’re excited to build alongside these strategic advisors to push our brand to new heights.


9:58 PM ∙ Aug 21, 2022


Who’s on it?

This reminds me of my post on Tessera’s Series A announcement last week, but from a different angle. The Advisory Board is diverse from an industry and skill set standpoint.

You have Web3 native companies and individuals (Nansen, Pentoshi), Retail (SAKS Fifth Ave, Hasbro, SFX/Fashion Nova), Tech (Meta), Non-profit (Save the Children), and VC (Limited Ventures).

Sure, it’s an Advisory Board. These individuals aren’t single-handedly going to make Pudgy Penguins a globally beloved Web3 brand. However, there is strong signaling on two fronts:

  • There is interest in Pudgy Penguins from various industries as well as Web2 brands. The team knows how to identify and close on strategic partners

  • The team knows how to make these announcements with a splash for their community, engaging and maintaining morale in a bear market

Also, how many Pudgy Penguin holders noticed this Easter Egg?

Considering who’s on the Advisory Board, I would believe that this individual is actually a Superstar…we’ll see 🤷

As a cherry on top, a record sale (in ETH terms, not $) was made earlier today 🥵. For context, this 1 of 1 Pudgy is clean and left facing (all others face right), hence the high sale price of ~$630k.

Twitter avatar for @punk9059

NFTStatistics.eth @punk9059

aaaaaand a pudgy penguin just sold for 400 ETH


6:02 PM ∙ Aug 22, 2022


The announcements and timing of them is a tactic other projects should take note of.

So what?

I’ve been making this case for some time and if you’re recruiting or trying to understand Web3 talent, it’s important to remove some preconceived notions.

The best talent in Web2 is not necessarily the best talent for Web3

With a paradigm shifts that Web3 is creating, finding talent and hiring the ‘right person’ is going through a paradigm shift as well.

Back to Tessera’s Series A announcement, here’s an example of a tweet from one of their Angel investors:

And one of the members of Pudgy Penguins’ Advisory Board is a crypto trader (with almost 600k followers on Twitter lol)

And Ben (OhhShiny) from Digital.xyz, what’s his experience?

I’m confident that the individuals mentioned are beyond qualified for their roles. But they sure wouldn’t look like people you’d want to hire in Web2. 🙃

See you tomorrow.

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