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Coinbase Ventures: Investing for a Decentralized World

By Emilie Choi


, August 16, 2021

, 3 min read time

When I joined Coinbase in Spring 2018, I spoke with our founder and CEO, Brian Armstrong, about booting up Coinbase Ventures. Brian said, “Write a blog post about what you intend to do.” I did, sent it to him, and he said, “Looks good.” I said, “Now what?” He said: “Go launch it!”

Just over three years later, Coinbase Ventures has more than 150 investments in our portfolio. These investments include bets across all sorts of compelling areas in crypto, from international plays (Bitso, a Latin American exchange) to crypto tax players (CoinTracker and TaxBit) to marketplaces (Dapper Labs and OpenSea) to infrastructure plays (Spacemesh and Starkware) to decentralized finance, or DeFi (Uniswap and Compound).

Imagine if you were Google or Facebook in the early days and had made investments in some of the most promising emerging internet companies of the time, from Stripe to Shopify. That’s exactly what we’re achieving in the crypto ecosystem via Coinbase Ventures, our investing arm whose structure mirrors our commitment as a company to decentralization — the team, effort, and decision making is decentralized, and we’re investing in companies that are making this decentralized world possible.

Here are some answers to questions I get:

What’s the common theme? Easy. We invest in amazing teams who are executing on the most important new ideas in crypto.

What will success look like? We want the crypto ecosystem to bloom. We don’t solely invest to generate ROI (Return on Investment), but we’re keeping pace with the best VC funds in terms of returns and ultimately, we’re focused on driving innovation that helps us further our mission to increase economic freedom in the world.

Do the companies have to be of strategic interest to Coinbase (M&A, partnership, or other)? Not at all. That can often be a side benefit, but really we want to invest in amazing entrepreneurs and companies that are building the ecosystem, including potential competitors in certain areas.

Do we invest in competitors? Yes! These companies may look competitive to Coinbase from the outset, but these are still-early days of the industry and we’re committed to building out the cryptoeconomy. Also, Coinbase is a multi-product company and competitors of one product can and often are critical partners for another product.

What is Coinbase Ventures’ secret sauce? OK, here’s the real secret. It’s a labor of love. We don’t have any dedicated employees solely responsible for Coinbase Ventures. Shan Aggarwal, our Head of Corp Dev, oversees it in addition to his demanding day job, and we have a group of exceptional, crypto-native employees such as Justin Mart and Ryan Yi, who do this nights and weekends because they love it so much. My theory is that we’re doing so well because of this. We have no LPs (Limited Partners), no committees, no heavy infrastructure, no marketing, nothing. Just a bunch of passionate employees who use their networks, know-how, and love of crypto to find the best players in the space to invest in.

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Emilie Choi

About Emilie Choi

Emilie Choi is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Coinbase. She oversees all operations at Coinbase including Corporate and Business Development, Ventures, Security, Institutional Sales, International, IT and Data and Marketing and Communications. Prior to her current role, Emilie served as COO of Coinbase, as well as Vice President of Business, Data and International. Before Coinbase, she spent more than eight years at LinkedIn as the Vice President of Corporate Development. Emilie holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Johns Hopkins University.