Four months after departing Polygon Labs, Ryan Wyatt is joining the team supporting a totally different Ethereum scaling network: Optimism.
On Monday, the former Polygon Labs president was announced as the Chief Growth Officer for Optimism Unlimited, a newly created subsidiary of the Optimism Foundation. Wyatt will build a team to support adoption and development on Optimism across a variety of functions, including business development, marketing, partnerships, and beyond.
Ahead of the announcement, Wyatt described Optimism to Decrypt as having the “best team in all of crypto.”
“They’ve really shown what they can do in the last 12 months, particularly, from both the tech perspective as well as people buying into Optimism and the ethos,” he continued. “I just think there’s an opportunity to really ramp up the non-technical efforts of the Optimism Collective. That’s what I’m good at and that’s what I like doing.”
Wyatt was with Polygon Labs from February 2022 until this past July, when the company announced that he was stepping down. Marc Boiron, previously Polygon Labs’ Chief Legal Officer, stepped into a new CEO role to lead the firm as Wyatt departed. Wyatt said at the time that he planned to stay in the crypto industry.
Asked why he wanted to leave Polygon Labs and take on a new challenge elsewhere in the space, Wyatt told Decrypt that his move was “less about leaving Polygon” and more about taking on a new challenge to grow a decentralized network that’s still relatively young.
“There’s really a special moment in time where you get to build out a team, build out a community, stand it up, and then turn the keys over to the world. And that is a moment in time that’s happening now,” he said. “I want, on a personal level, to be really impactful during that time, and I think there’s a huge opportunity to do it at Optimism.”
Jing Wang, co-founder of Optimism, told Decrypt that current adoption on the network has been supported by a two-person business development team. She believes that Wyatt’s addition, and his plans to ramp up those efforts, will make a considerable impact.
“I think Ryan can 100x adoption for us,” said Wang. “That’s what I’m most excited about.”
At Polygon Labs, Wyatt was credited with helping to court a number of prominent brands to build on the Ethereum scaling network, including Starbucks, Nike, and Reddit. Decrypt named Polygon its 2022 project of the year based in part on the significant mainstream brand adoption that took place during that span.
Asked if he will approach business development and brand adoption for Optimism like he did with Polygon, Wyatt said that some of the same tactics will come into play. However, he said that given Optimism’s focus on decentralization, he plans to help encourage growth across communities rather than assemble a large, central team to try and drive adoption.
“Optimism is so focused and so far ahead on the decentralization front,” he said. “And so there’s a unique opportunity to leverage and rally around the community to be able to amplify our efforts.”
Optimism’s OP Stack tech is already driving other networks, most notably Base, the Ethereum layer-2 network incubated by Coinbase and launched earlier this year. Base, which houses the buzzy social app Friend.tech and other applications, shows the kind of path forward that Wyatt hopes to see more broadly, with the OP Stack standing up various scaling networks.
“You have Ethereum here; we want the bedrock of all the blockchains to be built on Optimism,” said Wyatt. “And that’s where I think it’s going, and that’s where it’s certainly going fast
Wyatt comes from a gaming and esports background, and led YouTube Gaming for several years before joining Polygon Labs. Before that, he was an esports commentator and industry executive. Wyatt said that gaming will be a significant focus for him at Optimism as he tries to drive forward adoption around digital item ownership.
“I truly believe that digital ownership in a certain subset of games is going to be really important,” said Wyatt, affirming previous comments during his time at Polygon Labs. “Gaming will be very important for Optimism, and we’re going to do a bunch of cool shit in gaming.”
“That’s why it’s called the OP Stack,” added Wang, citing the gaming term “OP” or “overpowered.”