New beginnings
0xE96a
July 1st, 2022

Sharing an update that I sent to the OpenSea team last night:

TLDR - I’ve made the very difficult decision to step away from OpenSea. My last day will be July 30, and I’ll remain on the board. I’m more excited than ever about OpenSea’s opportunity, direction, and the leadership team at its helm. With a great foundation in place, I feel ready to turn my attention back to my primary passion: building something from zero to one.

At OpenSea, we’ve been building a ship and sailing into uncharted waters at the same time. There are very few times in history when this kind of adventure is even possible at this scale. When the Internet started, it took decades for those early builders to be taken seriously, and then another decade to transform the world. Similarly, we are early in the chronicles of the NFT space – so why am I leaving?

Let me take you back to our beginning. At OpenSea, we had product-market fit almost from the start, but the market size was negligible compared to where it is today. In March of 2018, when we raised our seed round, we had seen just $500k in volume in 2 months. There were only 100 collections listed on OpenSea, compared to the hundreds of millions listed now.

As the market grew and the company with it, I played many different roles, technical and non-technical. After NFTs started to explode in February of 2021, Devin and I set out to find the best people in the world to lead each core function of the company. One by one, I transferred the functions I previously ran to leaders who could command the right balance of first principles, best practices, and executional excellence. And we found some incredible leaders…

In May of 2021, we brought in Ryan Foutty to take over business development and partnerships from me. This was a daunting role to own: OpenSea was just entering hypergrowth and we were suddenly getting emails from everyone. Ryan embraced the challenge, brought valuable new ideas and intuition, and also built a great team, who have launched some of our most memorable content and integrations. I’m very thankful for them, and excited about what they have planned for the future.

Another area of mine was community and customer support. In October of 2021, I handed the reins to Anne Fauvre-Willis. Anne is a crypto-native, world-class leader. Over and over again, I’ve been impressed by the intelligence, foresight, and wisdom that she’s brought to the company. Together, her team has tackled high-scale operational problems that literally no company has faced before. She is building the most capable Trust and Safety team in the web3 world, and I’m excited for them to take our community to new heights and even better experiences.

That same month, I met Whitney Steele, who soon took over as our head of marketing. She has a unique ability to point out the elephant in the room, regardless of the domain, and has pushed us towards focus, clarity, and accountability over and over again. Externally, she helped us refine our brand and image into something I’m proud to call OpenSea. I have so much confidence in her and her team.

In January, we brought in our new CTO, Nadav Hollander, to refine and stabilize the technical direction of the company. Conviction is a key leadership value for us, and he has demonstrated over and over again that 1) he has a high bar for conviction, and 2) he’s always determined to find it before we make key strategic decisions. It has been a privilege to witness his level of rigor, prescience, and empathy.

Next week, Marko Iskander joins us as our new VP of Engineering. After getting to know him through the recruiting process, spending time together in person at NFT.NYC, and helping him get up to speed, I’m more excited than ever for him to take the helm and build a rock-solid foundation for engineering here at OpenSea. Even in non-technical contexts, he’s an intellectual acrobat, an adept leader, and someone who can dive deep without losing sight of the goal.

For the past few months, starting in January with the Dharma acquisition, part of my role has been leading our ecosystem efforts across the NFT Security Group and OpenSea Ventures. Kevin Pawlak will continue leading our venture arm and infusing the rest of the company with strategic insights. 0age will take over as OpenSea’s representative for the NFT Security Group. And I’ll continue to support us from the outside, and as a member of the board. 

OpenSea will always be a part of me. I couldn’t possibly stop thinking about the exciting problems we solve every day, even if I tried. Devin has done an incredible job stewarding OpenSea to heights we never predicted. And now that we have all of you, I know I can venture on – with full confidence that you’ll continue building and growing OpenSea in the right direction.

I’ll be taking at least a month off in August, and in that time I will try to do nothing. But I look forward to getting back into crypto and building new things. If I’ve learned anything about this space in my time at OpenSea, it’s that the best companies and the best ecosystems are one and the same. As you all now know, it’s one big ocean.

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