Hey BUIDLers, my name is Frank Chen. I’m joining Gitcoin Core as a data scientist and product manager. My background is in data science and product analytics, with an increasing interest towards data-driven product growth. Before joining Gitcoin, I worked as a data scientist in the health and wellness space, playing a variety of hats at companies both large and small. I slipped down the blockchain rabbit hole in mid-2017, when I kept hearing “Bitcoin” and “Ethereum” being thrown around…
My background is in data science and product analytics, with an increasing interest towards data-driven product growth. Before joining Gitcoin, I worked as a data scientist in the health and wellness space, playing a variety of hats at companies both large and small.
I slipped down the blockchain rabbit hole in mid-2017, when I kept hearing “Bitcoin” and “Ethereum” being thrown around in conversation. It didn’t take long before I was knee-deep in figuring out Coinbase and MetaMask, tinkering with hardware wallets, and reading about the whole gamut of protocols. It’s true what they say — once you blockchain, you can’t stop.
Alongside my learning streak, I quickly figured out that the industry was notoriously hard to follow (due to the sheer amount of noise), which didn’t help the fact that the concepts were already difficult, even to the intelligent layperson. Studying in a vacuum can only go so far. The best method, is community involvement, which provides access to interesting people doing fun (and useful) things.
In my quest to learn more, I paired up with Nathan Williams (co-founder of the Analysis in Chains podcast) and started a meetup branch in San Francisco, which interviews influential leaders and projects in the blockchain space. This essentially set me down the path of proactively conducting character references, researching projects, and doing outreach, all of which helped me seed connections in the blockchain community and drive a culture of constant education and openness.
During this time, I was still itching to find a way to use my existing data and product skills to contribute to the space. There weren’t many “traditional” data positions open — most of them were either quantitative investment positions, data engineering, or highly specialized machine learning or economic research positions, none of which exactly fit the bill.
Cue Gitcoin. Through some mutual introductions via Consensys, I was fortunate enough to land a call with Kevin Owocki and Vivek Singh. Gitcoin had a wealth of data just waiting to be utilized for product improvements, tracking, and growth. Up until this time, my contact with open source sustainability had been minimal — most of the data science world is protective of its data (naturally, most of the interesting data pertinent to products is also not open source). After hearing my story, Kevin, Vivek, and the Gitcoin team were kind enough to offer me a part-time contractor gig to help them build out some Gitcoin data feeds and explore how I could build my product skills.
As I explored the inner workings of Gitcoin, it became evident that it was an entity that was much larger than a “product”, and to some extent, much more than just a two-sided marketplace for open source sustainability. It was an entire ecosystem. Gitcoin was involved with multiple blockchain projects and community members, all of which comprise what Kevin coined the mesh network of humans. If Gitcoin got better, it was multiplying force that could bring value to all projects and all community members — and community is the glue that holds it all together. Not a bad deal.
Looking back on my interests and hobbies, the ones that held long and steady were always the ones that were rooted in community. Wherever I went, I instantly had a brother, a sister, a friend, a shared language together — whether that language be a coding language, a kinesthetic movement, or a topic of interest.
The communities that we foster and are a part of are hopefully the ones that lend themselves to inclusivity, compassion, and continued learning. I am confident and hopeful that this is the community that I am joining. Despite my currently short tenure in the blockchain space, I hope to be around a long time, because despite the blockchain haters, market manipulators, shitcoins, and hype, it’s the community that sets the tone and grounds the space. It truly is one of the weirdest, albeit better places to park your time. I’ll also plug that within the open source realm, there are projects to be done, interesting things to be learned (and taught), and money to be earned.
I encourage everyone to come learn and see how they can help. I’ll say that the onus is up to the individual (you!) to figure out where your skills are. Everyone has something to contribute. Maybe you write ridiculous software. Perhaps you’ve got an eye for bugs, beautiful design, super clear documentation, or a clearer way of writing and communicating. The open source community needs that, and needs you.
As I stumble onto this new journey, I’m not looking at it as just another “career move.” Okay yes, I have a “role”, I’m on payroll, etc, but “career paths” change. They die. They are denoted by distinct periods that are lauded, celebrated, or dreaded. I like to think of this stage of the journey as an alignment and continuation with what I find valuable in my life — connection, community, continued learning, and all of those good feelings.
Okay back to BUIDLing. See ya’ll around!