Blockchain hires its first VP of engineering

Blockchain, the world’s leading provider of free digital wallet software for storing cryptocurrencies, has hired its first ever VP of engineering: Peter Wilson, a veteran Seattle engineering exec with past stints at Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

Take it as a possible sign that the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry is luring veterans from Big Tech.

“As Blockchain prepares for a new year, acquiring and leading world-class talent will be a core focus,” Blockchain CEO Peter Smith wrote in a company blog post. “Peter is an expert in scaling organizations and will be instrumental to these efforts.”

Wilson, who was most recently VP of engineering at OfferUp, previously led the Seattle offices of Google and Facebook. He began his career at Accenture and then spent 10 years at Microsoft. He joins Blockchain at a big moment for the company: last year it raised $40 million in new funding from Google Ventures and Richard Branson, and this year it will launch bitcoin trading in the U.S. (Until now, it has only offered buying and selling outside the U.S.) That will make Blockchain a competitor to Coinbase, the No. 1 mainstream U.S. brokerage for buying bitcoin.

Blockchain CEO Peter Smith at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: Crypto on Feb. 7, 2018 (Gino DePinto/Oath)

Just last week, Blockchain CEO Peter Smith appeared on a panel at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on cryptocurrencies, and spoke of Blockchain’s plan to grow its reach. Although the company is known as being squarely in the cryptocurrency space (as opposed to private blockchains sans bitcoin), Smith revealed that, “Three-and-a-half years ago, we did some of these projects with the banks, which is something we haven’t really discussed publicly all that often… We came away with this real firm conviction that innovation within that space was going to be very slow.” By bringing on Wilson, Blockchain clearly aims to lead the next stage of innovation while banks move more sluggishly to adopt blockchain tech.

Peter Wilson is hardly the first person in bit tech to “go crypto,” so to speak. CNET founder Halsey Minor launched the “cloud-based banking” company Bitreserve, which later rebranded to Uphold and scored a former Nike CIO as its CEO; Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne is a big bitcoin believer who is placing his company’s future on an initial coin offering cryptocurrency business called tZero. In December, a Facebook corporate communications exec left to join Ripple as its head of comms.

Twenty-three million people currently use Blockchain wallets to store their crypto holdings.

Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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