Jana Rich is a Founding BFF. The Founding BFFs are comprised of more than 100 female and non-binary leaders across crypto, tech, design, business, and more. Just like our community, some are new to crypto, and others are full-on experts.
Who: Jana Rich, Founder and CEO Rich Talent Group
For more than 25 years, Jana has partnered with leading companies, from early stage to Fortune 500, helping to build teams of proven leaders and diverse thinkers. Her clients – which include Adobe, Peloton, Eventbrite, Affirm, Lululemon, and Epic Games – have launched revolutions, small and large, that have changed the way we do business today. Additionally, Jana has built well-established relationships with many leading venture capital firms which include Lightspeed Venture Partners, GV, Coatue, Andreessen Horowitz, and Forerunner Ventures.
Jana is now working with her team to get smart on Web3 and make room for an increase in requests for Web3 crypto hires.
Her TLDR “I feel energized, because the qualities and skills needed to be a successful leader in Web3 are fluid and evolving. We’re in uncharted territory.”
What was your “aha” moment when it came to Web3?
For me it was the context that we got called to do a search in the space. It was about four years ago. We received a call to do a search for Coinbase when it was still early days. It was for a Head of Communications and we recruited Rachel Horowitz who is now Chief Marketing Officer at Haun Ventures. It felt really early. We had to learn what the industry segment was about. There were not a lot of people out there who had done anything in the space yet. It reminds me of when I got into the recruiting business in 1996. Netscape had just gone public. eBay had just launched. It was a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time in Silicon Valley. I was so energized and it felt like a massive learning curve for me and everyone else being with the companies that were leading the space.
How has Web3 shifted the work you are doing in the recruiting space?
Earlier this year, we saw significantly more activity. There are lots of heads of marketing and CEO searches. Marketing is important because people need to get the word out. People don’t understand the space or the individual companies. In Web1 or Web2, you didn’t hire your marketing leader until quite a bit later. The CEO search is different too. For the first time in a very long time, we are doing CEO searches that are almost like founder searches because they are coming on board so early. Whether you talk about marketing or the CEO profile, they are very difficult to fill. There is very little talent that has done this before. But that is part of the fun of it. We get to recruit people who are not necessarily obvious and a lot of what you are talking about is passion and excitement in the space, as opposed to spending lots and lots of time in it.
What does that mean for the type of talent that you are able to recruit?
Because these are new roles, vs long-established ones, there’s greater flexibility in where you can go to look for these people. We talked before about women getting chief operating officer roles because they are willing to take on that risk. We are seeing the same phenomenon with women, people of color and LGBTQ folks who see the opportunity to lead this space. Fundamentally at its core, Web3 and your identity on Web3 is something that you get to choose. There is something egalitarian about it. It is all about transparency and it feels Next Gen in a positive way. That said, the thing that is challenging is that the person who is recruiting for these roles, whether it is the board member or the founder, I don’t believe they are all going to get it right. Who knows exactly which of these planes is actually going to take off. I feel energized, because the qualities and skills needed to be a successful leader in Web3 are fluid and evolving. We’re in uncharted territory.
So what do you think is preventing women and non-binary people from entering Web3 now?
At the highest level it is education, networks, opportunity and money. When you have one community involved earlier than others, it can feel clubby and insular. All the terminology is new and they are speaking a different language. It's not just they are not in the club and they are not invited. They are not in the club, they don’t speak the language and they don’t know how to ask how to get into the club in the first place. BFF at its core is about education. If you decide to invest or not invest it’s up to you. It is about leveling the playing field with information. You are arming people with the language and the tools and that feeds into excitement. Once they learn the language, there is a leveling in terms of how people are representing themselves in Web3. These communities of women and women of color are getting up to speed and the more there are, that is changing the mentality. It’s like, ‘now that we know enough, we are going to get dangerous.’ It is almost like it grew like lightning. So despite the slow start, I hope that we’ll see more women and more people of color thriving in this arena.
You have experience entering rooms where not a lot of people look like you. Advice for those entering into Web3 having that experience right now?
Come at it with a learning mindset. Truthfully. Learn as much as you can and access it any way that you can. If you have a few people in your network that are uniquely knowledgeable about this, grab a few people and make sure you are educating each other.
What is your hope for Web3?
When I think about the future of Web3, I think about members of my own team who have entered the workforce recently. They are either a more diverse group or they are more “diverse aware.” They have grown up around groups that are more differentiated from one another. They have grown up assuming that their rooms are going to be diverse. The next generation of people coming through are so much more passionate about diversity and they advocate for diversity. It is a different frame than when I grew up. I have more optimism about this next generation of leadership. This group of people who will lead Web3 companies will be more diverse. They just will be.
This is not financial advice. If you don't want to spend money investing in crypto or Web3 — you don’t have to. The intent of this article is to help others educate themselves and learn.
Caroline Fairchild is Editor in Chief at BFF