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Introducing Project 10 Percent: Building a culture of repeatable innovation at Coinbase

By Surojit Chatterjee

April 21, 2021

, 2 min read time

Innovation is a lot like exercise. You have to approach it with discipline, or you can easily fall out of habit.

Managing innovation is easier when a company is starting out, as there are fewer products, people and processes to manage. But, as a company grows, it becomes much more difficult. Creating sustainable, repeatable innovation at scale is one of the greatest challenges for technology companies today.

From the beginning, Coinbase has created a culture of continuous innovation, and as a result, it’s become a place where innovators and entrepreneurs thrive. We make it easy for employees to dream up new ideas, build new products, and bring them to market.

As Coinbase scaled, we asked ourselves: how can we make sure Coinbase remains an “idea factory,” and how can we tap into the creativity of all of our employees?

Our answer is Project 10 Percent, a new internal program designed to manage our disruptive innovation bets. The “10 Percent” refers to the amount of resources we’re dedicating to supporting these big bets in line with our philosophy that 70% of our time should be focused on core work, 20% on strategic bets, and 10% on innovative experimentation.

So, how do we define “disruptive innovation” that becomes 10 Percent projects? They are defined by their potential impact to the business — creating step-function change in our users, metrics, or capabilities.

These 10 Percent projects are managed differently, too. To solicit great ideas, we invite all employees to complete a simple two page submission. In addition, we’ll host two Y Combinator-style pitch day events internally each year. We believe that innovation is part of everyone’s job; great ideas can and should come from anyone within the company.

We also recognize the need to have a high risk tolerance. Every quarter we evaluate these projects to measure progress to determine their path forward. Not all 10 Percent projects will make it. And, that’s ok. That’s by design. If they all succeed, we weren’t thinking big enough. But the ones that do succeed should have a 10x impact and fundamentally move the crypto industry forward. Our most successful products today started as disruptive bets.

It’s still early days for the cryptoeconomy. By maintaining our culture of repeatable innovation through these 10 Percent projects, we’ll be in a position to continue building powerful, simple, and compelling product experiences that define the future of our industry.

We are hiring at levels across the organization, and we’re looking for entrepreneurs and creative problem solvers who are willing to take risks in order to advance our mission. Come build with us.

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Surojit Chatterjee

About Surojit Chatterjee

Surojit Chatterjee is the Chief Product Officer at Coinbase, where he is responsible for product management, product design, user research, and program management. Before Coinbase, Surojit was Vice President and Head of Product for Google Shopping. He also worked as Senior Vice President and Head of Product & Design at Flipkart, and was a founding member of Google's mobile search ads product. Surojit has an MBA from MIT, a B. Tech in Computer Science from IIT Kharagpur, and an MS in Computer Science from SUNY at Buffalo.