OAKLAND, Calif. — When Sandy Carter left her job as a vice president of Amazon’s cloud computing unit this month, she announced in a LinkedIn post that she was joining a crypto technology company. She included a link for open positions at the start-up.
Within two days, she said, more than 350 people — many from the biggest internet companies — had clicked the link to apply for jobs at the firm, Unstoppable Domains. The start-up sells website addresses that sit on the blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underpins cryptocurrencies.
“It’s the perfect storm,” Ms. Carter said. “The momentum we’re seeing in this space is just incredible.”
Ms. Carter is part of a wave of executives and engineers leaving cushy jobs at Google, Amazon, Apple and other large tech companies — some of which pay millions of dollars in annual compensation — to chase what they see as a once-in-a-generation opportunity. That next big thing is crypto, they said, a catchall designation that includes digital currencies like Bitcoin and products like nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, that rely on the blockchain.
Silicon Valley is now awash with stories of people riding seemingly ridiculous crypto investments like Dogecoin, a digital coin based on a dog meme, to life-changing wealth. Bitcoin has soared around 60 percent this year, while Ether, the cryptocurrency tied to the Ethereum blockchain, has increased more than fivefold in value.
But beyond that speculative mania, a growing…