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Is Coinbase a finance or a tech company?

I sent the below email to employees earlier this week. I’m sharing it publicly in case others find it helpful.

By Author


, August 24, 2018

, 2 min read time



At our last all hands meeting, an employee raised a great question: are we a tech company or a finance company? This question deserves a thoughtful answer, so I decided to lay it out here.

Many of you have noticed that we share aspects of both. On the tech side, we have an engineering and product-led culture, tech company perks (free meals, kombucha on tap, etc), and we hire from many of the best tech companies. At the same time, we share aspects of financial services. We have robust compliance and legal teams, we interact frequently with governments and regulators, and we’re opening offices in the world’s financial centers (New York and London).

There will always be a blend of these two in our culture. That being said, if we were forced to label ourselves as one of the two, we would be a tech company first. The reason is simple: technology is driving a ton of innovation and growth in the world today. When you think of the organizations that have changed the world in the last 20 years, how many are finance companies? We’ll succeed against established players entering our space by being tech first.

But ultimately, we are neither one. We are something different and new: a crypto company.

We’re not satisfied with the limitations of either technology or finance industries. We don’t want to move fast and break things — that doesn’t work when you’re handling people’s money. We also don’t want to become so conservative that more risk-tolerant organizations outrun us.

We do want to draw the very best talent from tech and finance, and any other industry where the smartest people on earth are to be found, and shape them to be innovative in this new industry. There are not clearly defined rules in this industry, which means we have an opportunity to help write them. That is a huge opportunity that requires creative problem solving.

I look forward to doing that together with you all. Brian + the leadership team

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