#AMA Dr Changhao Jiang, Co-founder & CTO at Cobo: Building APAC's Largest Digital Asset Custodian


In this Ask Me Anything (AMA) interview, we sat down with Dr Changhao Jiang and discovered some behind-the-scenes insights on what it is like to be the CTO of Cobo. More about Dr Jiang:

  • Entered the digital currency space in 2013 and co-founded China’s first cryptocurrency wallet, Bihang
  • Before this, Dr. Jiang was a platform engineer at Google and research scientist at Facebook
  • Received his Ph.D in Computer Science from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. 

Our favourite snippets from this AMA:

  • The reasons behind leaving Facebook and Google to go into crypto
  • Why maintaining formidable, military-grade security is of utmost importance at Cobo
  • Dr Jiang's favourite question to ask during an interview

What is Cobo about?

Cobo is Asia Pacific’s largest digital asset custodian and blockchain technology provider. Based in Singapore, Cobo builds scalable infrastructure to power the Web 3.0 revolution globally.

Here are some quick facts about Cobo:

  • Raised US$40 million Series B round in 2021 co-led by DST Global, A&T Capital and IMO Ventures
  • Attained the System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC2) Type I Report which makes Cobo one of the most secure and compliant custodians in APAC
  • Entrusted with billions in assets under custody

Tell us about a day in your life as CTO at Cobo?

As the CTO and co-founder, I am involved in the day-to-day operations as well as the broader strategic planning for the company. There is no typical day for me but here are some of the things I do every week!

Once a week, I sit down 1:1 with my managers to ensure that things are well on track and everyone is moving in the right direction. We will discuss the week’s progress, objectives achieved, challenges faced and the action plan / goals for the next week for their respective teams. As a rapidly growing start-up with ~150 employees currently in various offices, I believe in empowering my managers and giving them the space to take charge, grow and succeed. 

I also spend time every week with my other co-founder and senior leadership team to discuss our goals and priorities and formulate strategies to take Cobo to the next level.

As CTO, I keep my finger on the pulse of the latest blockchain developments - user needs, technologies, applications, etc - so that we can seize opportunities right in front of us as well as actively anticipate and pursue what lies ahead of us.

Creative and ambitious technical talents should join Cobo if they are looking to make a genuine impact on the future of digital asset custody...
Dr Changhao Jiang's sharing during the grand opening of Cobo's Singapore office earlier on (Image credits: Cobo's Twitter)

You were previously from Facebook and Google. What made you decide to leave to go into crypto?

When I was first introduced to Bitcoin, I became very intrigued with the technology and spent time studying the science and concepts behind it. It was then when I saw the huge potential blockchain technology has in revolutionising businesses and economies.

This excitement coupled with my entrepreneurial DNA made me dive into the crypto industry and develop China’s first crypto wallet.

Later, I was introduced to Discus Fish* and we decided to come together to start Cobo and the rest is history.

* “Discus Fish" is the CEO and other co-founder of Cobo. In our research, we found out that Discus Fish is the OG in the cryptocurrency world.

  • One of China's earliest cryptocurrency pioneers and thought leader for the country's cryptocurrency entrepreneurs
  • Wrote the very first Chinese-language mining tutorial and led the development of the 24-hour settlement protocol
  • Co-founded F2Pool, one of the largest mining pools in the world
  • Co-founder and COO of Yibite, the first Bitcoin portal in China
Cobo's co-founders. Left: Discus Fish (CEO), Right: Dr Changhao Jiang (CTO) (Image credits: Cobo)

What’s the main difference between working at Google and Facebook v.s. working in a startup?

At a big tech company, you’re typically part of a larger team working on a certain area of a big project.

Contrast that to working in a startup, you will have the opportunity to take ownership of an entire project from start to finish and drive its success. You will get to wear many different hats, which keeps your day-to-day work interesting and helps you accelerate your career growth.

Work can be demanding and fast-paced, and requires strong passion and belief in what we do.

But at the same time, it can be extremely empowering and rewarding when you get to truly make a difference and drive real changes.

Currently, we are also working on our next big project - a fully decentralized custody infrastructure with a dedicated blockchain.

In a sentence, how is Cobo different from other players in the crypto industry?

We are an innovative thought leader in digital asset custody and we put our people - customers and employees - at the heart of everything we do.

Cobo's team at an AMA with the local community (Image credits: Cobo's Twitter)

What is the working and engineering culture like at Cobo?

At Cobo, we are an energetic and passionate bunch, excited about powering the Web 3.0 revolution. We value open communication, ownership and accountability, and a flat hierarchy. I firmly believe in creating an environment where people can reach the best of their potential and thrive within their roles.

In a sentence, why should an engineer join Cobo?

Creative and ambitious technical talents should join Cobo if they are looking to make a genuine impact on the future of digital asset custody together with like-minded talents who share the same passion and goals.

Image credits: Cobo

What are some of the most exciting projects and challenges at Cobo?

At Cobo, we are entrusted with billions in assets under custody so maintaining formidable, military-grade security is of utmost importance. It is our 365-day, 24/7 round-the-clock top priority.

Currently, we are also working on our next big project - a fully decentralized custody infrastructure with a dedicated blockchain. It is a very exciting and ambitious project and it represents a whole new paradigm in digital asset custody. 

Unveiling 2 latest products: NFT-as-a-Service, in collaboration with MetaMask Institutional and Cobo Argus, in collaboration with Gnosis Safe (Image credits: Cobo's Twitter)

How do you ensure that your team is motivated daily to carry out their tasks at Cobo?

Open communication is key. I share Cobo’s vision and set clear goals with each team member so that they are able to track their progress and measure their success in a tangible way.

This way, my team is more engaged and they can see their daily activities directly contributing to the company’s growth. This makes their work more meaningful and keeps them motivated.

What is your favourite question to ask in an interview?

What do you want to do differently in your next role?” - the answer will show me the candidate’s ability to self-reflect and identify his/her areas of improvement.

What I really want to know is if the candidate has a positive work attitude and is self-motivated to keep growing and improving. 

What was a mistake which gave you the greatest takeaway in your career?

Losing momentum when choosing stability over passion. The takeaway is that if you feel strongly about working on something, do it. Let nothing stand in the way of your passion and do not lose your momentum.

You must have received a lot of resumes at Cobo. What makes a good resume stand out from the rest?

A good resume that stands out is one that is tailored to the specific job the candidate is applying for, never generic. It should show strong passion in the work you do and demonstrate contributions, not just duties.

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