Head of Research

$200,000 - $400,000 yearly
  • Dfns
  • Remote (New York, NY, USA)
  • Mar 17, 2022
Full time Blockchain Engineering Research

Job Description


Dfns is a cybersecurity company that builds custody SaaS protocol for web3 apps. Think of it as a developer tool that provides secure cloud for crypto. Our mission is to bring serenity to DeFi by eliminating new blockchain risks and making crypto transactions easier, faster, more affordable, and compliant with existing regulations.

From fintechs to large banks to e-commerce sites, Dfns gives financial institutions and businesses the freedom to own and transfer crypto on a battle-designed security infrastructure. Our API is designed to offer best-in-class developer experience allowing any platform to deploy custodial wallets in a matter of days, with streamlined feature delivery and frequent security upgrades.

Founded in 2020 in Paris, Dfns is a startup incubated at Station F (awarded Future 40), accelerated by Techstars and recognized DeepTech by the French Ministry of Economy. Our company is fully remote with offices in Paris, Amsterdam, New York, London, Stockholm, Sofia, and other cities.

Job Description

You will contribute to one of the most ambitious technology projects in crypto today: building a trustless custody infrastructure for the trillion-dollar digital asset industry.

You will join an amazing team of leaders (CTO, CISO, CPO) and experts (R&D Engineers, Cryptographers, Security Engineers) in a highly challenging and collaborative environment.

We are looking for a trailblazing Head of Research who can explore blockchain and ZK technology, generate new product ideas, and outline detailed R&D strategies. You will need to manage diverse teams spanning engineering and marketing, requiring both a strong technical background and excellent business skills. As an ideal candidate, you will have a keen eye for gaps in client product offerings and the innovative mindset to fill them. You’re a highly skilled cryptographer with a proven ability to strategize the full lifecycle of patent production—from conception through release.

As Head of Research, you must act as a visionary and an avid evangelist of our R&D program. You will also be responsible for creating new methods to improve research strategies, optimize the department's working environment, and streamline research processes. Your duties also include communicating progress upgrades to other company executives and people involved in the research project, as well as writing marketing content.


Your primary goal will be to research state-of-the-art cryptography to enhance our products with security systems, primitives, techniques, and algorithms, and make them safer, faster, more efficient, and more affordable.

Example of a primary metric would be Product Delivery Rate.

Your day-to-day projects will involve:

  • Sharing the big picture to your team, defining the levels of priority within the product roadmap, and being accountable for the deadlines and the quality of production.
  • Acting as a powerhouse of ideas on all cryptographic and research issues.
  • Defining multiple roadmaps in-line with company vision and strategy, and gathering product requirements including things like feasibility, time, cost, and impact.
  • Owning and driving the whole R&D lifecycle from design, launch and developing cross functional partnerships.
  • Developing a vision and setting the strategic direction of the product which aligns with customer needs, business growth, and overall technology strategy.
  • Developing metrics and KPIs to measure success and identifying areas for improvement.
  • Developing and managing our company's proprietary cryptographic technology, including its code, software, and third-party product adoption.
  • Training staff that handles cryptography and helping them develop secure systems.
  • Authoring and updating internal and external documentation.
  • Facilitating cross-team communication and know-how exchange between team members.
  • Handling communications with independent vulnerability researchers and designing appropriate mitigation strategies for reported vulnerabilities.
  • Working closely with CEO and product team to determine feature requirements, improve customer experiences, define product roadmaps and releases, understand product selling points, develop product pricing and positioning strategies.
  • Working closely with CMO and marketing teams to manage product launches.
  • Working closely with CPO, CTO and product team to transform feedback into features.
  • Working closely with CISO to embed best-in-class information security processes within the product specifications and the internal workflows.
  • Hiring, mentoring and managing an R&D team including product managers and software engineers, designers, and nurturing a customer-led product culture.
  • Assessing current competitor offerings, seeking opportunities for differentiation.
  • Keeping abreast of the latest developments in crypto, DeFi and blockchain to feed the company's strategic orientations.
  • Continually researching current and emerging technologies and propose changes.
  • Continuously participating in client meetings and customer care calls to gain insights into their user experience that will help improve the product.
  • Acting as a product evangelist and representing the company at public events.


  • 10+ years experience as a Head of Research or similar role.
  • Solid technical background with understanding and/or hands-on experience in cryptography, information security, software development and web technologies.
  • Proven work experience in blockchain, DeFi and/or cybersecurity industries.
  • Past track record of recruiting and developing a high performing research team.
  • Experience leading R&D programs aligned with business strategy and product delivery.
  • Good understanding and experience of product development methodologies.
  • Thorough understanding of the latest security principles, techniques, and protocols.
  • Excellent knowledge of relevant industry scientific standards (NIST, ANSSI, etc.).
  • Having published >1 article in well-known, international scientific reviews.
  • Experience working with secure, fault-tolerant, and resilient systems.
  • Founding-spirited with grit and guts to pursue complex worldwide ambitions.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Humble, respectful, and very professional to others.
  • Able to decide even in stressful, unstable situations.
  • Appetite for Cybersecurity, Fintech, Blockchain and/or Crypto industries.
  • [Bonus] Hands-on experience and willingness to contribute to open source projects.
  • [Bonus] Proven track record working on developer tools and/or cybersecurity software.
  • [Bonus] Extensive knowledge about the crypto custody industry and its use cases.
  • [Bonus] Experience with public key cryptography, such as ECDSA and EDdsa.


  • Title: Head of Research
  • Salary: €180-350K / year (avg base range).
  • Equity: 0.8-1.2% (≈ €32-40M in case of €2B exit).
  • Bonus: peer and spot bonuses after 8 months with us.
  • Location: Hybrid. You can either work in our offices, from home, or remote.
  • Paid time off: No less than 30 days per year, plus national holidays.
  • Employee benefits: healthcare, life insurance, retirement plan, sponsored transportation, gym cards, food, Apple devices and home office equipment, tuition fee assistance, team retreats, and more.