The topics blockchain, Bitcoin and other crypto currencies regularly provide topics of conversation, not only in the crypto scene. Finally, the revolutionary idea of a monetary system independent of central banks also raises social questions. But how much critical debate can one of the leading crypto companies endure internally?
It is obvious that the rapid developments in crypto space require an open and critical mindset. Looking beyond the horizon is also conducive to reacting to global challenges and advancing innovative projects.
However, it is precisely this openness to a wide range of topics that could lead to losing sight of the real goal. At least that is how Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong sees it. Therefore, in a blog post on 27 September 2020, he clarified what the company’s mission is and what behaviour he expects from his employees.
Coinbase is not only one of the world’s largest exchanges for crypto-currencies, but also sees itself as a global player with responsibility. Thus, the company’s mission, according to its own statement, is nothing less than to create an open financial system for everyone. Every person in the world should have the opportunity to gain economic freedom with crypto-currencies.
Coinbase: Corporate goals come first
To achieve major changes like this, he said, requires a group of smart, talented people who are willing to focus on a difficult problem for a decade or more. This is how Armstrong explains his decision, pointing to companies that fail to achieve their goals because that very focus is missing. When employees are distracted by various issues, the company lacks that time and energy. Instead, Coinbase can make an even bigger difference in the world if the company explicitly focuses on its products and customers:
I want Coinbase to focus on achieving its mission, because I believe that this is the way we can have the biggest impact on the world.
The CEO also describes in his statement what this focus on the essentials looks like. He wants his employees to refrain from political and social discussions. The same applies to activities that have nothing to do with the core objectives of the company. He also says that Bitcoin System only participates minimally in charitable projects. After all, the company works profit-oriented. Last but not least, a more profitable company can make an even bigger difference in the world.
Profit vs. dispute culture?
Leaders from the crypto-scene, entrepreneurs and investors reacted differently to Armstrong’s statement. One clear critic came from Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. He spoke in a tweet on 30 September:
Bitcoin (also known as „crypto“) is direct activism against a financial system that is unmonitorable, that excludes and that negatively affects so many areas of our society. It is important to recognise *at least* the related social problems that your clients face on a daily basis and to see them in that context.
In contrast, others see Armstrong’s push in a positive light. Various „Twitteratis“ attest to the CEO’s pioneering entrepreneurial thinking. They see his statement as a courageous decision and a clever move.
Jennifer King of Startup Recruiting Bootcamp takes a more differentiated view of the whole thing:
Coinbase announces a ban for employees to participate in political discussions. Ok, the challenge of regulating political issues in the workplace in this climate is real. But banning them is not the solution. People simply do not work that way.
Armstrong, on the other hand, believes he knows that this is how his people want to work. In his blog post, the Coinbase boss explains that political and social conflicts should be kept out, especially against the background of the very heterogeneous composition of his workforce:
„I believe most employees want to be respected at work, have a welcoming environment in which they can make a contribution, and have opportunities for growth. They want the workplace to be a refuge from the divisions that are increasingly present in the world“.