Brian is the founder and CEO of Coinbase, the largest platform for purchasing cryptocurrencies with fiat currencies such as Dollars or Pounds. Born in San Jose, California, Armstrong learned coding and web development at a young age and took this passion for technology into his degree, studying Computer Science and Economics. He finished his masters at Rice University, Houston, Texas, in 2006 and gained an internship at IBM, later finding a more permanent career at top four accountancy firm Deloitte.
Whilst at University, Armstrong developed a website that matched students with a wide array of different tutors from across the world. This is very much the ‘Airbnb’ of tutoring, allowing tutors to advertise their work and students and parents to select the tutor that is best suited to them. He remained at University Tutor until he joined Airbnb for just a year before starting work on Coinbase in 2012. This project displayed Armstrong’s entrepreneurial ability to start a successful company that stands the test of time.
Bitcoin spiked Armstrong’s interest in 2010, but prices were very low and the market was in its infancy. Coinbase allows for users to purchase cryptocurrencies with fiat, the first hurdle for anyone who is interested in buying crypto. Coinbase secured significant investment from venture capital firms and they were able to grow fast and develop the product. They have developed a brilliant user interface and purchasing crypto is as easy as it should be! As of November 2017, Coinbase became a ‘Unicorn’ company as its valuation exceeded $1 billion to reach $1.7 billion.
Some people in the crypto space feel that Coinbase represents the traditional banking system they are trying to escape. The argument follows that Coinbase is too centralized and people are encouraged to keep their crypto on the system, thus not keeping control of their own private keys and vulnerable to the Coinbase system being hacked. Now, there is some truth in this argument, yes, it is safer to look after your own private keys as you are responsible for your own funds, however, for many people who want to be involved in crypto but aren’t tech savvy, Coinbase provides an appealing alternative. Additionally, Coinbase claims that 98% of their Bitcoin is stored offline, so protected against hacks. It is a personal choice whether to trust a company such as Coinbase with your funds, but even if you plan to keep your funds on Coinbase you should be aware of the process to safely remove them from the exchange using your private keys.
There is no doubt that Brian Armstrong is one of the most influential people in the crypto space. Opinions of him aside, the platform he has driven to create is the easiest way for newcomers to get started in buying, trading, and HODLING cryptocurrencies.