In an ask-me-anything on the future of Coinbase, the leading cryptocurrency exchange in the US, CEO Brian Armstrong says he sees the company moving on from its roots of trading Bitcoin and other digital assets.
Despite recent clashes between big tech and Washington politicians over Facebook’s Libra, and as regulators stutter and struggle to catch up to the innovators, Coinbase is looking forward. With technical prowess being drawn to the fast-paced crypto industry, Armstrong is painting the future of radical change by spending his time onboarding new hires.
In five years, Armstrong says the company will be less about trading and more about growing a crypto economy. He plans to help connect the dots by joining individuals who are trading cryptocurrencies in solo activities and bringing them into functional economies where people are transacting with one another and actually using cryptocurrencies in everyday life.
“You’re seeing that in a little bit in our efforts already with Coinbase Earn. Soon we’ll have the ability for people to do borrow/lend, and do margin trading. So getting some of those other crypto verbs – other than buy and sell – earn, invest, borrow, lend. Those are kind of key primitives in starting to build an economy.
But in five years I hope that we’ll it even further beyond that. They’ll be thousands of companies that are crypto first. They raised money in crypto, they take all their payments in crypto. They have a global audience from day one because they don’t have this bureaucracy of going country by country with different payment methods that most companies have to do today. We’ll have like a billion people accessing an open financial system through our products every day. That’s my goal in five years.”
L.J. Brock, chief people officer at Coinbase, says that the work and the hiring happening at the San Francisco-based company today will seed that economy. Armstrong says that about 10 people so far have already left to start really successful crypto companies, which is a win for Coinbase and the industry.
“Or you can be an entrepreneur from within Coinbase. We’re building a lot of products. We’re going to be a multi-product company that has repeatable innovation.”