#627: Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase — The Art of Relentless Focus, Preparing for Full-Contact Entrepreneurship, Critical Forks in the Path, Handling Haters, The Wisdom of Paul Graham, Epigenetic Reprogramming, and Much More


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Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase — The Art of Relentless Focus, Preparing for Full-Contact Entrepreneurship, Critical Forks in the Path, Handling Haters, The Wisdom of Paul Graham, Epigenetic Reprogramming, and Much More | Brought to you by ShipStation shipping software, Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, and Helix Sleep premium mattresses.

Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Coinbase. Founded in 2012, Coinbase is building the crypto economy—a more fair, accessible, efficient, and transparent financial system enabled by crypto. Coinbase serves over 103 million verified users, 14,500 institutions, and 245,000 ecosystem partners in over 100 countries. In April 2021, Coinbase listed publicly on NASDAQ as COIN.

Before founding Coinbase, Brian served as a software engineer at Airbnb, where he focused on fraud prevention. Before Airbnb, Brian founded and was CEO of UniversityTutor.com, an online tutoring directory and a subsidiary of Johnson Educational Technologies LLC. Brian also previously served as a consultant for the enterprise risk management division at Deloitte & Touche LLP. Brian has a BA in computer science and economics and an MS in computer science from Rice University.

Over the last three years, Coinbase has worked with ten-time Emmy®-winning filmmaker Greg Kohs on a documentary about cryptocurrency and Coinbase. COIN is now available on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Vimeo on Demand, and other platforms.

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[05:46] How Brian’s first book idea became a blog.

[07:21] Brian’s time in Buenos Aires.

[13:39] Present-day economic warning signs.

[16:13] Coinbase beginnings: from genesis to the Buy Bitcoin button.

[20:35] Influential human beings, books, and documentaries.

[23:15] Core principles learned from early startup days.

[26:39] Favorite Paul Graham essays.

[28:12] Controversy: Coinbase becomes an apolitical, mission-focused company.

[37:11] Cultivating resilience to resistance as a leader.

[44:57] Competition.

[46:51] What crypto skeptics and crypto bulls each get wrong often.

[49:30] Main use cases for crypto.

[50:18] Making the case that crypto is still in early days.

[54:55] Novel crypto ideas Brian thinks will prove worthwhile.

[59:57] Lessons learned from the launch of Coinbase’s NFT marketplace.

[1:03:44] How Coinbase is addressing NFT security.

[1:05:34] “Not your keys, not your crypto.”

[1:10:56] Self-improvement.

[1:14:14] Learning biology basics from a tutor as an adult.

[1:20:03] The goals of NewLimit.

[1:27:32] What is ResearchHub?

[1:31:41] How open bounties work.

[1:33:25] What excites Brian most about science today?

[1:36:52] Brian’s billboard.

[1:38:24] Parting thoughts.


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