20VC: Coinbase's Brian Armstrong on Real vs Fake Emergencies, Coinbase's Failed NFT Launch, The Politicisation of Leadership, Why This Crypto Winter is Different From The Past & Brian's Development and Insecurities as a Leader


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Brian Armstrong is the Co-Founder and CEO @ Coinbase, the easiest place to buy and sell cryptocurrency. Over the last 10 years, Brian has led Coinbase to today, a public company with over 3,500 employees and revenues of over $7.5BN in 2021. Brian also raised venture funding before going public from some of the best including Fred Wilson @ USV, Micky Malka @ Ribbit, Marc Andreesen @ a16z and Garry and Alexis at Initialized. Prior to founding Coinbase, Brian was a Product Manager @ Airbnb.

In Today's Episode with Brian Armstrong We Discuss:

1.) Founding Coinbase:

  • How did Brian make his way from PM @ Airbnb to founding Coinbase?
  • What is Brian running from in his past? What is he running toward in his future?
  • What does Brian know now that he wishes he had known at the start of Coinbase?

2.) Brian Armstrong: The Leader:

  • What does "high performance" mean to Brian in leadership?
  • How does Brian think about stepping off the treadmill for a second and appreciating what has been achieved? How does one celebrate as a team without creating laziness or arrogance?
  • How has Brian most changed as a leader over the last 10 years?
  • On reflection, what does Brian believe are his biggest weaknesses today?

3.) Crucible Moments in the Coinbase Journey:

  • What does Brian mean when he says, "you need to be able to differentiate between a real emergency and a fame emergency?" What is the difference?
  • When Brian made the speech to the Coinbase team on political views in the company, was that a real or fake emergency? What happened? What would he have done differently?
  • Is the failed NFT launch, a real or fake emergency? What big mistakes were made? What are Coinbase doing to correct and improve them?
  • "Bankrupt Coinbase" campaign on social earlier this year, real or fake emergency? What has been Brian's biggest lessons on how to deal with fake news?

4.) Crypto and The Ultimate Mission for Coinbase:

  • What is different about this crypto winter from all other crypto winters?
  • Why did Brian ban discussion on the market cap from employees within Coinbase?
  • How does Brian maintain morale internally when everyone sees the stock at all-time lows?
  • How does the Coinbase mission extend far beyond financial freedom for the world? What does Brian want Coinbase to be in 10 years?