Kevin Kim

Kevin Kim

Product Manager-Phantom

Kevin was the first PM at Phantom

Kevin was the first Product Manager hire at Phantom, the leading Solana wallet. Within web3, he co-founded one of the first-ever DeFi smart wallets in 2019 and was a speaker at DevCon4 in Prague about dApp UX.

What is your background?

Through chance I’ve performed almost every function within tech at some point - this has influenced my approach to product management. I started my career with summers at Google writing scripts as a product analyst and managing user research at Microsoft. I have close to a decade of product and growth experience at companies like Pinterest, Facebook and Quartz. I’ve also done freelance design and frontend development for a few web3 projects, including a DeFi smart wallet I worked on in 2019.

How did you become interested in web3?

Web3 captured my imagination as Ethereum rose to public prominence in the summer of 2017. I had to get my hands dirty - I started attending builder meetups in NYC hosted by the Ethereum Foundation and Consensys communities. I did some freelance frontend and design work for small web3 projects, won one of the Coindesk Consensus Hackathons. People in the space at that time were super friendly - the space wasn’t as hyped as it is now so anyone with serious intent to learn was welcome. I was a speaker at the flagship Ethereum conference Devcon 2018 in Prague about dApp UX. That was the tipping point to make me pursue web3 full-time.

How did you make the transition?

At the end of 2018, I quit my job and hacked on web3 ideas with friends, eventually spending the better part of 2019 on Gossamer, one of the earliest DeFi smart contract wallets. I wore lots of hats: design, product, front-end development, talking to users. Ultimately, we were too early - DeFi TVLs were 1/100th of the size of what they would be after 2020’s “DeFi summer.” After some modest yet lackluster growth, we shut it down. I did a 2 year stint polishing my skills as a Senior PM at Pinterest leading teams that drove a fifth of Pinterest’s growth and revenue. 

Most recently at the beginning of 2022, I re-entered the space as the first Product hire at Phantom, the most user-friendly wallet in web3.

What is your role and what do you do?

I was the first Product hire at Phantom and was somewhere between the 20-25th employee. I was spread across all of our features for a while (NFTs, DeFi, anti-phishing, growth and onboarding, notifications and activity history) and now have a more narrow focus while helping Phantom scale as we expand to a team of 3 PMs.

My day-to-day includes competitive analyses and industry research, riffing with designers, writing requirements, analyzing onchain/offchain data and helping shepherd small ideas to become new features. Phantom has a HQ in SF but is remote-first spread across 5 continents, so I spend a lot of time on video calls and tools like Slack, Figma and Notion.

Any tips for people looking to make a similar transition?

  1. Don’t wait til you get the job to dive into web3 - do it now. I’ve interviewed plenty of coming-from-web2 candidates who are generally bullish on web3 but don’t want to make the time investment to go deep as an active user until they join a company. There are a million sources out there to guide your learning. On the hiring side, depth of web3 knowledge in candidates is valuable because it demonstrates that they concretely have the financial and technical chops to “get it” - not everyone does. 
  2. Engage. Whether it’s writing articles, working on side projects or participating in hackathons - it’s cool to say that you’re interested in web3, but what’s even cooler is to show it. I underscore this not just for engineers, but for product, design and data as well - it’s a big space with a lot of opportunities to meet people to work with and carve out a niche. 
  3. Do your research. If you’re actively interviewing, chat with people who know more than you about the space. A few months ago, a PM acquaintance of mine told me they made the move from big tech to web3 with an exciting role at Celsius. For centralized crypto companies or small/niche web3 projects, do your due diligence to ensure that you’ll have a set of learnings worth having.

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