Speaking at Player’s Technology Summit in Silicon Valley, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong covered the exchange’s growth, crypto-bubbles, and its efforts to be inclusive and diverse.
Taking to the stage at a Silicon Valley-based technology meet-up, speaking to Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, the CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, described the rise of crypto exchange as “organised chaos,” before going on to explain that, at one point, it was dealing with something in the region of 50,000 new customers every day.
The site, which it would seem has suffered its fair share of hiccups along the way as it has grown, now one of the leading exchanges in the US – and at the forefront of efforts to comply with regulatory demands on the sector – was originally created by Armstrong while he was working as a developer for AirBNB. It has recently been rumoured to be a buy-out target for Facebook, though that has been denied.
“Certainly for me as an entrepreneur it’s been a crazy journey,” he told Chang. “We now have about a thousand people at the company, it’s about six years old, every year there’s another thing to learn, new skill set – whether it’s fundraising, or learning manage teams more effectively.”
It would seem things have calmed down for Coinbase with the struggles of the crypto markets through 2018, but Armstrong was philosophical when asked about the price of Bitcoin.
“This technology is going through a series of bubbles and corrections, so we’ve actually been through about four of five of them where Bitcoin has made a big run up in price and there’s been irrational exuberance, and then it corrected back 60-70%, and each time it does that, it’s at a new plateau, and it actually matches the growth of the company.” he said. “If you go back to 2012-13, we have maybe 500 people signing up every day, then on the next one it would be 5,000 people a day, then it’s more like 50,000 a day signing up.”
“People’s expectations are all over the map, but I think the real-world adoption and usage has been pretty steadily going up.”
The interview concluded with the Coinbase CEO expanding on his company’s efforts to bring diversity and inclusivity into the crypto industry, and defeating the ‘Crypto-bro’ trope that sometimes dominates how people think about it.
“We’re trying to build the best products, and to do that we need to get the best people,” he said. “Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.”
“I created a top-level company objective around diversity and inclusion,” he said, describing an OKR (Objectives and Key Results) metric that the company judges itself against as a target, including sourcing at least three candidates for every position of VP and above from less represented backgrounds.
“I felt like bringing in leadership that was diverse would be a a way of automatically attracting talent in under them into the organisation.”
Armstrong comments back-up the take of the company’s UK CEO, Zeeshan Feroz, expressed at the recent MJAC London Blockchain Summit earlier in the summer.
When asked by an audience member his thoughts on encouraging more women into the sector, Feroz said: “I think there’s a real opportunity because this industry’s so young, for us to have a different balance compared to traditional finance. We as a business are very aware of that; we’re very conscious of it. The first employee resource group we launched was ‘women in crypto’, and our activities range from speaking at meet-ups to events targeted at women. As an organisation, we’re making a lot of conscious effort to try and address it.”