From the earliest days I built Coinbase to harness the power of cryptocurrency and create more freedom in the world. Five years ago we codified this into the first version of our vision, mission and strategy, the top level objectives that our products and goals align to.
Every few years we take another look and see if we can improve the communication of these core tenets. Why? Because they inform almost every decision we make at Coinbase. “Does this help us achieve our mission?” is one of the most common questions we ask ourselves. This is how we ensure the decisions we make and products we ship are helping to drive our mission forward.
One of my philosophies around building a company is that you have the opportunity to stick only a few key messages in people’s heads about what you’re trying to achieve in the world. There are too many other brands in the world for people to remember much more than that. In this vein, we recently rolled out a simplified set of artifacts that describe Coinbase, with the goal of distilling each to their core.
Here is how we define them:
Our Mission: What we’re trying to achieve in the world
Our Strategy: How we are going to get there
Our Culture: How we hire and work together
If people only remember one item, it should be our mission.
Why economic freedom? Economic freedom is a global indicator that is clearly defined and has been measured for decades. It is a composite metric, assessed both globally and for every country, that looks at a variety of factors like property rights, stability of currency, ability to start the business you want and work where you want, free trade, corruption, etc.
Economic freedom is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for human progress. Societies with greater economic freedom have higher life expectancy and GDP growth, less war and corruption, better treatment of the environment, and higher income of their poorest 10%. Higher economic freedom correlates with the kind of societies that we all aspire to create.
The problem is that economic freedom isn’t growing fast enough; the trend over the last 25 years has been a very gradual increase. Our job at Coinbase is to bend the shape of this curve upward.
When I first read the Bitcoin whitepaper back in 2010, I realized this computer science breakthrough might be the key to creating more economic freedom. The current financial system is rife with high fees, delays, unequal access, and barriers to innovation. In many countries, citizens don’t have access to sound money, a functioning credit system, or even basic property rights. I realized that we could use cryptocurrency to create sound financial infrastructure in every country around the world.
Cryptocurrency can provide the core tenets of economic freedom to anyone: property rights, sound money, free trade, and the ability to work how and where they want.
At Coinbase, we are laser focused on increasing economic freedom, because we believe that this is how we can have the biggest impact on the world. Everyone deserves access to financial services that can help empower them to create a better life for themselves and their families, and Coinbase is tasked with making this future a reality.
About five years ago, I wrote the Coinbase Secret Master Plan that outlined the four phases I envisioned cryptocurrency going through on its path to reaching 1 billion users. We have made incredible progress towards this plan, with >50M verified users on Coinbase, and more using other crypto products.
If our mission of increasing economic freedom is what we’re trying to achieve, then our strategy represents how we’re going to get there. This revised framing reflects where we are in the evolution of crypto 5 years later, and what we think the next 5+ years will look like.
Our strategy has 3 pillars:
CRYPTO AS AN INVESTMENT
Crypto investing remains our core business and it’s the foundation of growing the cryptoeconomy. Investing is the first use case for every crypto holder and user, and we are the world’s most trusted onramp. We will continue focusing on:
Adding new assets: Ramp pace of asset addition, ultimately offering every reputable cryptocurrency to our users (read: not a scam, or illegal).
Institutional infrastructure: Building advanced trading tools professional traders are used to in traditional markets; building out the critical infrastructure and prime brokerage services to bring access to crypto markets to institutions of all sizes.
International expansion: Grow the reach of crypto, enabling safe and easy to use onramps in every country we can legally operate.
CRYPTO AS A NEW FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Crypto investing was the first use case, and it is bootstrapping a large and growing network of crypto holders. As more users hold crypto, new products will be built to help them use their crypto. Coinbase will offer financial services that are powered by modern crypto infrastructure, including:
DeFi: Safe and easy-to-use onramp to emerging decentralized finance use cases, accessible from the Coinbase app.
Payments: Tools to send and receive fast, cheap, and global payments, as well as tools for any merchants or businesses to accept crypto.
Earning: Unique opportunities to make money in crypto native ways, including staking (participating in network governance) and airdrops for completing educational tasks and incentives.
Borrowing/lending: More open, and more fair access to credit, as well as additional opportunities to earn yield on assets.
Our centralized products will continue to play a critical role in the growth of the cryptoeconomy. Over time, we expect DeFi (decentralized finance, built on open protocols) to outpace CeFi (centralized finance, including first party Coinbase products). We embrace decentralization, and will build products to make interacting with new DeFi as easy as we do our own first party products.
CRYPTO AS AN APP PLATFORM
Finally, crypto companies and protocol teams are driving new innovations and products beyond financial use cases. Coinbase will invest deeply in discoverability and usability of third party products in the cryptoeconomy, and make crypto as easy to use as it is to buy:
Surfacing apps: Enable our users to discover new applications and networks in our core product.
Externalizing shared services: Externalize our robust crypto infrastructure to non-crypto native organizations, making it safe and easy for anyone to interface with the cryptoeconomy.
Investing in the cryptoeconomy: Provide financial support for new compelling projects and teams through Coinbase Ventures that we think can help increase crypto adoption or otherwise further our mission.
Our mission and strategy are the what and the how, but building a world class company starts with building a high performing team. Our #1 priority is attracting and retaining top talent, which is why we are constantly working to build a culture to enable our team to do the best work of their careers. Our culture is the foundation of how we hire, and promote, and we’ve described it in detail in this document.