Jump Crypto Wants You to Know Its Name

A secretive trading giant with an army of developers is taking an increasingly active role in building key crypto infrastructure.

AccessTimeIconMar 25, 2022 at 1:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 25, 2022 at 9:29 p.m. UTC

Tracy is a deputy managing editor at CoinDesk. She owns BTC, ETH, MINA, ENS, various stablecoins, and some NFTs.

Jump Crypto, the cryptocurrency arm of the decades-old trading firm Jump Trading Group, is stepping into the spotlight – not as traders, but as builders.

In a presentation – titled “Who the F**k Is Jump?” – Jump Crypto President Kanav Kariya unveiled the extent of the historically secretive firm’s crypto operations at the Avalanche Summit in Barcelona, Spain. He wore a neon-orange puffer coat and flip-flops.

Jump Crypto has emerged as a uniquely powerful presence in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, branching further from its trading roots to become active builders, investors, governance voters and community members. The firm even executed what some observers called DeFi’s first bailout, putting up $320 million that was exploited in a hack of the Jump-backed Wormhole cross-chain bridge.

“Before, there was no need for marketing,” explained Kariya, who rose to head the multibillion-dollar crypto operation after joining Jump in 2017 as an intern. “But crypto is different – we’re building a whole bunch of stuff. We made our first marketing hire three months ago.”

The firm now dominates every aspect of the crypto ecosystem – operating a market-making business, a venture capital arm and, increasingly, a team of in-house developers who contribute to projects on several major blockchains.

According to Kariya, Jump Crypto now employs approximately 140, with over 100 being developers. Half of the developers are focused on trading, while the other half are on the ground, shipping code for protocols.

They’re “writing Rust for Solana and Solidity for AVAX and Ethereum,” Kariya said, in reference to the programming languages that power the three blockchains. “We’re builders first.”

Venture BUIDLers

The investors-as-builders strategy appears to be a growing trend, with venture giants Paradigm and Polychain Capital also expanding their research teams with talented developers who are able to build out key features for their portfolio projects.

Some of Jump’s biggest engineering bets have been on core crypto infrastructure, such as decentralized exchanges (Serum), oracles (Pyth) and Wormhole, the aforementioned bridge that had structural integrity issues in February.

“Many people asked me, ‘Why did you plug the $300 million dollar hole?’” Kariya said at the conference. “The default pieces of infrastructure that are responsible for communication across chains are going to be highly value-creative. … It’s never an easy decision, but we were able to do it quickly, and it was the right decision to make.”

In an industry where major decisions are frequently debated on open governance forums, Jump appears to be using its name to gain influence within the community.

Another priority of Jump’s is staying ahead of developments in market structure, according to Kariya.

He also hinted at possible Jump subnets, the application-specific blockchains that the Avalanche Foundation has committed 4 million AVAX tokens to attract.

“We’re exploring a few subnets with the Avalanche team,” he said on stage, adding the effort was “still largely explorative.”

“We’re excited about what they’re doing,” Kariya added.

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Tracy is a deputy managing editor at CoinDesk. She owns BTC, ETH, MINA, ENS, various stablecoins, and some NFTs.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Tracy is a deputy managing editor at CoinDesk. She owns BTC, ETH, MINA, ENS, various stablecoins, and some NFTs.