Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming who oversaw some of its big deals to bring Twitch streamers to YouTube, is leaving to join the crypto company Polygon Technology, where he will be leading its Polygon Studios organization.
Polygon is a “protocol and a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks,” according to its website. Said another way, it can help people build decentralized apps that aren’t as tied to one blockchain’s fees, hurdles, or performance. In one description Polygon compares itself as the “broadband” to Ethereum’s internet, with faster transaction speeds and fees that are “10000x cheaper.”
Wyatt will be focused on leading Polygon’s non-tech-related efforts, he said to The Verge in a Twitter DM, and in an announcement shared on Twitter, he elaborated:
“In my role at Polygon Studios, I will be focused on growing the developer ecosystem through investment, marketing, and developer support and bridging the gap between Web2 and Web3,” Wyatt said. “I’ll be leading the Polygon Studios organization across Gaming, Entertainment, Fashion, News, Sports, and more. I’m excited to work with developers and builders across the Polygon ecosystem and I’ll be sharing more about my journey over the coming months.”
(Just to be clear: Polygon Tech is different than The Verge’s fellow Vox Media website Polygon.)
Polygon Studios still looks to be in early days — its sparse website has a short description, a list of partners (including Atari), and an email signup form — so it appears as if Wyatt will be tasked with building it out. Blockchain-based media and content has been under the spotlight thanks in part to the growing pervasiveness of NFTs, and with Wyatt’s hiring, Polygon is likely hoping more people will use its platform.
Wyatt joined YouTube in 2014. During his tenure, the company has persuaded many of Twitch’s biggest stars to stream exclusively on YouTube, including Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, Ben “DrLupo” Lupo, Tim “TimTheTatMan” Betar, and Ludwig Ahgren. It seems Wyatt may have had a key hand in many of those moves, given the many congrats tweets he’s received from streamers in replies to his announcement. Wyatt will be at YouTube until the end of February, he tells The Verge.
“Like many other companies, we’ve seen some of our people choose a new direction in the new year,” Google spokesperson Lauren Verrusio said in a statement to The Verge. “We are also fortunate to have a deep bench of talented leaders to take our business forward. We thank Ryan for his incredible contribution to YouTube over the years and can’t wait to see what he does next.”
YouTube is also looking into crypto and NFTs
Wyatt announced his departure the same day YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki suggested the company is looking into crypto and NFTs. “We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube,” Wojcicki said in a letter outlining YouTube’s 2022 priorities. This perhaps foreshadows a future where YouTube and Polygon Studios will someday compete. Google’s payments division is also looking at a bigger push into crypto.
Wyatt is the latest notable tech figure to move on from established names in big tech for crypto startups. While that’s likely in part due to growing interest in blockchain technologies, there’s also the potential for huge financial rewards. And Wyatt isn’t the only YouTube staffer leaving for crypto — Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s senior director of creator partnerships, is joining Bright Moments. Heather Rivera, a YouTube VP and global head of product partnerships, is departing YouTube as well, according to Tubefilter.