Amidst the strong social movement in the US, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong decides to take an apolitical stance and expects its employees to follow.
On September 27, Coinbase Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong published an article on Coinbase’s Medium blog account stating that Coinbase would be taking an apolitical stance amidst the political issues ravaging their country and the world today.
Armstrong cited the difficult year everyone has been having due to the pandemic, which affects economies, companies and individuals all over the world. As a result, various societal issues have sprung up.
Additionally, in the United States, a cultural revolution began in May 2020 after the brutal police treatment against George Floyd which eventually led to his death. The nationwide #BlackLivesMatter movement drew the world’s attention as thousands of protesters flooded the streets and demanded justice for all African-American lives taken due to police brutality. This movement saw Americans speaking out about abuse, systemic racism and inequality specifically targeting marginalized communities and races.
Despite the ongoing social demonstrations, Armstrong pushes for the company’s actions to be laser-focused, implying that there is no room for division, especially in political spheres. In his post, the CEO states that he wants to stay on track with accomplishing the company’s mission which is to create a financial system that drives global economic growth and freedom through the use of cryptocurrency.
He further stated company tenets that would help its employees stay on track with the company’s goals. These include focusing on what they have in common and not on issues they disagree with, especially when it’s unrelated to their work.
Armstrong made it clear in his post that there is no room for social activism in Coinbase since it diminishes the company’s goals and divides the workplace. Instead of giving importance on societal issues while at work, he encourages all employees to focus on the company’s goal and remain as #OneCoinbase.
Following his blog post, Armstrong offered a four-month severance package for all employees who would like to part ways with the company after his announcement. Dan Yoo, the vice president of business and data, and Clem Freeman, a software engineer, are among the 5% of the company’s employees who sent their resignation letters.
Other company CEOs such as Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and RippleLabs’ Brad Garlinghouse expressed their disappointment over Coinbase’s apolitical stance. In a tweet, Dorsey said that it’s at least important to acknowledge the societal issues faced daily by the customers especially since Bitcoin and crypto are direct products of activism.
Garlinghouse also disagrees with Coinbase’s decision, stating in an interview with CNBC that technology companies have an obligation to provide solutions for societal issues. They should be willing to provide solutions for some of the societal problems they have caused or made worse.
Reactions from the public are mixed with some agreeing with Coinbase’s decision to focus on their goal while others expressing disappointment over the apolitical behaviour.
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