Art by Mike Sullivan
Jan. 10, 2022 6:00 AM PST

It used to be that crypto startups could count on their missionary appeal to woo and retain top-notch talent, along with the possibility of a big payoff from tokens and equity they doled out to employees. In exchange, many employees didn’t mind missing out on some standard job perks or even taking slight haircuts on salary.

Now though, as venture money pours into the category and competition for talent soars, crypto firms are sweetening their compensation and benefits packages. Some are trying to catch up to a tech industry known for generous pay and lavish perks. Others who are already close to those tech giants in compensation are aiming to exceed them.

Take IOHK, the crypto startup that develops Cardano, a blockchain that positions itself as a cheaper and faster alternative for decentralized-finance apps than other systems. The company plans to begin offering a new benefit this year, a crypto-token award that will vest over three years, similar to how stock grants are structured at many tech companies, according to a person familiar with the company’s policies. IOHK, which was founded in 2015 and has more than 400 employees, hasn’t yet provided details on which token employees will receive, though the ADA token is Cardano’s native cryptocurrency.

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