Diversity is Critical for Blockchain

How Livepeer is building a diverse team and community and how you can, too

Raffi Sapire
Jun 18, 2018 · 5 min read

Livepeer is the first decentralized video streaming protocol launched on Ethereum. We are one of the few protocols that are live on Ethereum today, and we are hiring software engineers to help build the the video network alongside us.

Building diverse teams is good for business. Studies show diverse groups make superior decisions. In media in particular, it is important to have diverse engineering teams building products for media content (I’ll bet a female engineer built tools that made it easy to do makeup tutorials online, and now it is a multi-billion dollar market).

For Livepeer, getting people with different ways of thinking and seeing the world to join our team and community is the best way to face the scaling, development, and reliability challenges ahead. I joined Livepeer as the eighth teammate and first female hire in March. I’m a Jewish South African immigrant raised in Texas who has always felt to be “other”. It may be for that reason that during my time as an investor, I launched Venture Inclusion to curate diversity resources, built the Women’s Executive Leadership Program with Union Square Ventures, and hosted regular termsheet roundtables via NastyGap.com. In joining Livepeer, I shifted from training other startups on hiring to implementing this playbook myself, and I can see why homogeneity is so pervasive. It is easier said than done. But I can also say that Livepeer realizes better outcomes as a diverse team. Here’s my playbook on how to get started, and know that we’re here to help you along the way. We’re still learning — if you have any resources or communities you suggest we reach out to please let us know in the comments below.

Implementing at Your Own Company

Build a Culture that Welcomes Diversity

Diversity isn’t just about race or gender. It’s about welcoming and respecting new or controversial ideas. Think about a time you’ve felt isolated, unaccepted, “the other.” Building a culture for diversity means encouraging new mental models, diverse team members with different backgrounds, various problem solving approaches.

Set Goals

As a global team we identified three measurable goals:

  • 40% diversity, women and people of color by 2020
  • 50 women in our talent pipeline by end of year
  • Build a diverse candidate pipeline for any open position (half women and people of color)

Hold Yourself Accountable

  • The CEO, CTO and myself have a monthly recurring 30 minute check in
  • We are offering a $5,000 referral for anyone who refers candidates we hire full time (see below for JDs)

Deliverables for all Team Members

  • Exchange information with 2 candidates who do not look like you at every event you go to
  • By August, each teammate presents Livepeer to one technical, diverse community
  • Distribute the software engineer JD at 3 places with diverse candidates

Build a Diverse Crypto Community

  • Get 2 female investors/devs running transcoder nodes (or for another protocol any other validator role)
  • Find blockchain Hackathons and be mentors — we’re starting with CryptoChicks this fall
  • Find CS classes, see if you can be involved with the course curriculum (e.g., build your dapp using video)

Don’t isolate humans further once you hire them

Ultimately we’re hiring the best candidate. We’re speaking to diverse candidates because we know you may bring the best ideas. Don’t offer to speak with someone “because they are [insert “other”]” or ask to make an intro to a professionally irrelevant person because “they are also [insert “other”]. This happened to me last week with an executive at a large blockchain company. I know the guy was trying to help. Don’t ask the [insert “other”] candidate to go to the diversity training. Go yourself.

We’re Hiring — Help us find our teammates

Livepeer aims to build a fully decentralized video stack for web 3, and building an exceptional team and community is critical for achieving this goal. If you’re an iconoclast, if you speak truth to power, if you care about doing what is right, not what’s easy, I hope you’ll consider changing the paradigm of video alongside us. We can’t do it alone.

Video Engineer. You’ll be building infrastructure project alongside our video engineers to help make Livepeer a more stable and reliable network. The day-to-day technical problems will be around scalable peer-to-peer infrastructure, live video streaming with different standards, crypto protocol design, smart contract development, and video application development

Javascript Engineer. You’ll be building interfaces to help people interact with the Livepeer protocol, and sdks to help developers build applications with Livepeer. The day-to-day technical problems will be around application architecture and development in the Ethereum environment, video streaming, p2p networking, and protocol design

Commitment to Mentorship and Development

As serial entrepreneurs who have built and exited companies prior to Livepeer, we know that people might join for the role, but stay for the people. Beyond the opportunity to work on brand new technology that has never been built before, you will also have one-on-ones with the CTO, structured training on blockchain & video technology, a development budget, and executive training on giving and receiving professional feedback

Putting Money Where Our Mouth Is

  • We are offering a $5,000 referral to anyone who refers our next team member! Tweet, Share On Linked In, Email Your friends!
  • Tweet: Want to work with an exceptional engineering team changing the paradigm for video? @LivepeerOrg is hiring:

This is hard.

Who you have on your team, as investors, and as advisors matters to how your community grows over time. I came onboard through Livepeer’s only female advisor. Even though we have committed to this goal, it is just a first step. People tend to refer people who look like them; when we announced that we had two roles open, of course someone knew someone who’d be a good fit, but that tended to be straight white men. When you build diverse teams from the getgo, network effects make it easier over time to retain a diverse community.

Resources for Teams Building Diverse Engineering Teams

Livepeer Blog

Decentralized live video streaming platform built on Ethereum - Livepeer.org

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade