Token-funded blockchain project Tron is not only hiring while others cut staff, it’s recruiting an entourage for its founder.
Among the 10 open positions that Tron Group, the company behind the namesake cryptocurrency, posted on Wednesday, two were for aides to the 28-year-old CEO, Justin Sun. These hires would supplement the personal assistant he already has.
One of the jobs Tron is looking to fill is a senior executive assistant to the CEO, who would work with Sun’s personal assistant, mentoring the latter and making sure his scheduling is done properly.
Other duties for the senior executive assistant include organizing the CEO’s home and dealing with “maintenance issues” there; “packing/unpacking”; running personal errands; and developing extensive knowledge of the Bay Area’s restaurants and “well-known social and recreational spots.”
A college diploma is not required, but a “24/7 mindset” is, according to the job postings on LinkedIn and JobVite.
Another job, personal financial accountant for the CEO, requires keeping track of Sun’s personal spending, keeping his finances in order, and ensuring “that transactions are executed in order to optimize the HNWE’s [high net-worth executive] tax position.”
The candidate must speak and write in Mandarin fluently. (Sun is from China, and relocated Tron’s headquarters to the U.S.) For this job, a bachelor’s degree is required. Neither job posting indicated what the salary would be.
Cliff Edwards, a spokesman for Tron, told CoinDesk these were “routine hires.”
“Virtually every CEO under the sun, and certainly everyone I’ve worked with, has had an executive assistant,” he said by email.
“Whether the CEO has an accountant is the CEO’s business alone,” Edwards added. When later asked if that meant the accountant would be paid by Sun himself rather than Tron, he replied:
“Since Tron is self-funded by Justin, the two are essentially one and the same, although the duties obviously would be in the service of Tron activities.”
Neil Dundon, a professional recruiter specializing in the crypto space, told CoinDesk that hiring multiple assistants for a corporate leader is a normal practice for large enterprises, but unusual for crypto startups.
“Having a personal financial accountant does seem like a luxury,” he said. “It certainly seems like overkill in the crypto industry with it being so new.”
Flush in a bear market
While these hires might sound like cushy perks for a young startup founder, they are especially notable in light of recent retrenchment by other projects and firms in a prolonged crypto bear market.
“We are keeping the business growing because we are executing,” said Edwards. “Companies that are not executing, or that have poorly formed business plans, are retrenching and/or laying off staff.”
Further, Tron may have reason to feel flush these days. Its native token has nearly doubled in value since the beginning of December, from $0.015 to $0.027 Thursday morning, according to CoinMarketCap. The token’s market capitalization totals about $1.8 billion, ranking ninth among all cryptocurrencies.
And to be sure, Tron is also looking to fill technical and business positions, not just handlers for Sun.
Other job openings posted Wednesday include two translators from Mandarin to English “for daily communication with the China team,” three blockchain engineers of different levels, a technical recruiter, an engineering manager and a business development manager to build a developer community.
According to Edwards, Tron’s current staff in the U.S. is about 90 people, and the startup is planning to hire five to ten more in the first quarter of 2019.
Tron raised $70 million during an ICO in 2017, though it later returned some of those funds to Chinese investors after China banned token sales.
This past summer, Tron bought BitTorrent with the hope of boosting adoption of its blockchain with the file sharing service’s huge base of 100 million active users. The acquisition was controversial, prompting an employee exodus from BitTorrent. The file-sharing system’s creator, Bram Cohen, recently disavowed any connection with Tron or Sun.
Tron recently announced launching BitTorrent’s own token BTT, which can be used to incentivize users to share their bandwidth more actively for faster file exchanges. The job descriptions posted Thursday don’t mention BitTorrent or BTT.
Tron has also been criticized for its marketing tactics. According to CoinDesk’s Crypto-Economics Explorer, social media activity around the native TRON token is 33% that of market bellwether bitcoin, compared to just 7.5% of developer activity.
Additional reporting by Brady Dale
Justin Sun portrait via Tron’s Facebook page