If you had asked us a year ago, the answer would have been San Francisco. But almost nine months into becoming a remote-first company, and now with 52% of our employees having joined us in a post-office world, that answer no longer feels right. After we can safely return to in-person work, about 95% of our employees will still have the option to work at home, in an office, or a mix — whatever works best for them. We now have employees, many who originally worked in San Francisco, all over the country and world. Since January 2020, nearly 250 employees have relocated worldwide, and more than 150 have left San Francisco, representing about 21% of our global and 29% of our San Francisco workforce during that time.
While we will continue to provide offices for employees who prefer to work in them, designating one location as our headquarters feels counter to our culture. Forgoing a formal headquarters is also more in line with the spirit of crypto, built on the inherent benefits of decentralization. We don’t want to downplay any of the legal, compliance, or regulatory obligations that come with being based in the United States, or the benefits that come from operating in a country with America’s values, but elevating one specific office over any other office does not make sense for a remote-first Coinbase.
Here are a few observations we’ve had now that we have no official headquarters in one city:
While we still have elements of the employee experience that we’re working to improve (some of them bottlenecked by the pandemic), 94% of employees believe that the benefits of remote-first outweigh the drawbacks, or that the benefits and drawbacks balance each other out. In particular, they appreciate the autonomy, flexibility, the ability to focus, and reclaiming commute hours.
One of the best parts about being a decentralized company is that we can hire more of the best people. Previously, less than 1% of the world lived within commuting distance of one of our offices. Now we can cast a much wider net. Over the last nine months, we’ve onboarded hundreds of employees from locations outside of the commute range of any of our existing offices. In Q1 of 2020, only 28% of new employees lived outside of California. In Q1 of 2021 to date, 58% of our new hires are from outside of the state.
Prior to going remote-first, nearly all of Coinbase leadership, including the executive team, could be found in the San Francisco office every day. Since we’ve made the decision to go remote-first, we’ve decentralized ourselves; even after people can safely return to offices, the executive team has no plans to be “in-office” on a regular basis, and none of them currently live in San Francisco. This is one of the most powerful things we can do to keep Coinbase from inadvertently returning to an in-office culture.
Being truly remote-first means redesigning how work gets done — that includes how people learn, bond, and grow. We’ve created new ways for employees to connect remotely, including offering virtual offsites, social gatherings and 1:1 coffee stipends; and deployed a blended onboarding and learning approach of live virtual, on-demand, and (eventually) in-person training. We’re fully committed to ensuring that all employees have equal access to professional growth and opportunity, regardless of how often they physically come into offices, so we’re thinking about the new collaboration practices that will be required when some of us are back in offices and others are at home. Overall we’ve seen high engagement, belonging, learning, and creativity happen in a remote-first environment.
Stepping back, it is incredible to think about the fact that almost no Coinbase employees have been physically together for nearly a year, and that the hundreds of employees who joined after March 2020 have never met a manager in-person, attended a live meeting, or visited a Coinbase office. Despite all of these challenges, we’re seeing this decision begin to pay off, during one of the most exciting periods of our history. This collaboration with our team has made me more optimistic than ever about the future of work at Coinbase.
About Brian Armstrong
Brian Armstrong is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Coinbase. As CEO, Brian is responsible for Coinbase’s consumer and institutional arms, which offer an entire suite of products that make accessing cryptocurrencies easy and secure, in addition to new products that operate at the frontiers of crypto and blockchain. Before co-founding Coinbase, Brian worked as a Software Engineer at Airbnb. He holds three degrees from Rice University: Bachelor’s of Computer Science, Bachelor’s of Economics, and a Master’s of Computer Science.
Jun 9, 2023,
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