The concepts of NFTs, the metaverse and Web3 seemed to explode in popularity from nowhere in the last year. Dozens upon dozens of fashion brands have jumped on the NFT train, and huge companies like Meta, formerly Facebook, have put big bets on the entire Web3 space.
But to expand, you need people. And fashion companies are going on hiring sprees to find new talent who can help them explore the metaverse. Nike is hiring five full-time positions related to the metaverse, and Balenciaga announced in December that it’s building an entire metaverse department.
But the space is incredibly new and brands can’t just ask for “five years experience” with a concept that’s barely a year old. To find the right talent, they’re broadening their search horizons, seeking people with a mix of tech skills that they hope will help them adapt to a rapidly growing, and rapidly changing new industry.
Sebastian Fahey, managing director for EMEA at Sotheby’s, has an additional title under his belt as of last October: executive lead, metaverse. Fahey, in addition to his EMEA duties, is leading Sotheby’s venture into selling digital goods and is in charge of building up the team that will focus on the digital goods space.
Fahey said building this team has been a combination of seeking out new people with the right skills and asking existing employees to make the leap to a metaverse-focused team.
“We were very fortunate to have two contemporary art specialists who were very interested in digital art and NFTs,” Fahey said, referring to Max Moore and Michael Bouhanna, now co-heads of digital art at the company.
Moore is based in Hong Kong and Bouhanna in London, and both have pivoted to leading Sotheby’s digital art sales. Cassandra Hutton, another existing employee who specializes in science and culture, has also helped lead sales on digital pieces like the source code of the World Wide Web, which sold in June.
But for new hires, Fahey said the Sotheby’s team is being less restrictive with its experience requirements than it normally would. Candidates for metaverse roles don’t necessarily need to have a lot of work experience in the space.
“It’s ever-evolving as are our needs,” Fahey said. “We’re looking to draw from across experiences, coupled with a knowledge of the Web3 space. It’s not necessarily more difficult to find candidates who fit, but it is a more niche field.”
Other businesses are more demanding, in terms of the knowledge they require. StockX’s job posting for a senior NFT product manager includes a requirement that the hire is “fluent in NFTs.” Their role will be to “define the product vision, requirements and strategies [supporting] StockX’s NFT strategy.”
Fahey said it’s hard to quantify how many employees Sotheby’s has or wants to have working on metaverse-related projects, since many employees overlap and work on such projects on a case-by-case basis. But there are currently 5-10 people who regularly work on NFTs.
Harper + Scott, a creative agency that designs and produces branded merchandise for companies like Sephora, announced the formation of its own internal metaverse team on January 13, under the leadership of Michael Scott Cohen.
Cohen said his company is still hiring, but hasn’t been posting job posts on sites like LinkedIn. Instead, he and his team have been searching by word-of-mouth and in online channels like Discord in NFT-focused communities.
“Web3 is still really new, so it’s not as simple as just going on LinkedIn and searching for people with ‘NFT’ in their job title. There aren’t enough of those people yet. Instead, we’ve been looking for people who might know certain parts of it, like blockchain. Or maybe they have crypto experience. And on top of that, they need to be willing to adapt over time and discover the space as we go. We’re not necessarily looking for someone who is already an expert, but someone who can become an expert.”
Stacey Bendet, CEO of Alice + Olivia, said she’s only looking for one role right now: a director of metaverse. Rather than invest in hiring a full team, she wants to find the perfect high-level person to explore and develop the brand’s overall strategy when approaching the market. Once that person has been found and their vision articulated, they can begin a full staffing effort.
Bendet said she’s looking for this director through Creatively, a creative hiring tool she launched in 2020. The job description lists duties as overseeing NFT content, reviewing NFT assets, developing partnerships with other companies and individuals in the Web3 space and taking digital products to market. She said she hopes to turn Creatively into a premier destination for finding and recruiting talent in the NFT space.
“Right now, it’s about strategy and exploration,” Bendet said. “Once we understand what exists and decide what to build, then we’ll build our team. The first step is NFTs, then commerce in the metaverse. But right now we just need someone to help lead this exploration.”