In brief

  • Coinbase lost 5% of its staff over its decision to remain apolitical.
  • CEO Brian Armstrong said the team should focus on its mission of financial inclusion, achievable only by growing Coinbase's profit and revenue.
  • He said that politics may exist in the workplace but that the firm would not advocate for policies unrelated to crypto.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong today announced that 5% of employees, or 60 of the 1,200 who work for the San Francisco-based exchange, opted for an exit package after he said last week that the firm’s employees should separate politics from work.

More still may leave as the company wraps up discussions with some employees. 

In a Coinbase blog post today—the contents of which were emailed to employees earlier in the day—Armstrong said he “could have done a better job bringing the Operating Group and managers along on this clarification of our culture so everyone was prepared before it went out to a wider group.”

Armstrong came under fire from employees in June after he refused to share his views on Black Lives Matter, causing employee walkouts.

On September 27, Armstrong told employees that Coinbase is a “mission focused company.” This means its employees should focus on building the company’s cryptocurrency exchange. It also meant that the firm should only advocate for policy around crypto rather than extraneous social issues, such as “healthcare or education for example.”

“We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus,” he said. Armstrong said that those from minority groups “have not taken the exit package in numbers disproportionate to the overall population.”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and noted Bitcoin supporter, swung at Armstrong on September 30 (with a tweet) with the rejoinder that crypto is inherently, unavoidably political since it distributes to the masses power usually held by banks or governments.

 “Yes, we are ok being political about this one particular area because it relates to our mission,” said Armstrong today in his email.

Armstrong said that employees won’t have to “pretend politics don’t exist,” and asked them to use good judgment when making sense of this admittedly “blurry line.” 

And Coinbase doesn’t just stand for profit, he said, but for “accomplishing the mission” and to keep its employees happy. However, this mission can only be accomplished through…”growing revenue and profit.” 

“While having team members leave is never easy, I think we will emerge as a more aligned company from this,” he said. With dissenters gone, survivorship bias may play a helping hand.