A bit of Background
Coinbase is the largest public exchange in the cryptocurrency space with revenues reaching over $1B in 2017, and has quickly become a household name to many in the community. Despite their humble origins as a simple website to buy Bitcoin, they’ve recently begun investing heavily in technology development and mass-adoption oriented products.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong appeared today not unlike Haley’s Comet on the third day of Tech Crunch to profess the long term prospects of cryptocurrency. On the question of whether all the buzz that cryptoassets have received from the mainstream media has affected price volatility, Armstrong quoted user growth numbers and referenced the learning experience he’s had with building the company so fast to meet demands. He went on to say that the industry is only in it’s infancy, and spoke at length about the excitement of working in such an early stage business.
“We’re only 1% of the way there – only 40 Million people have crypto, but I believe we can get to 10% within 5 years.”
As the interview continued, he went on to describe the complications of developing such a complex company in uncharted territory. In particular, he cited that the typical Move Fast and Break Things mentality of most Silicon Valley firms simply does not work in the crypto space because they’re dealing with people’s money, and not just their social life. Coinbase has recently acquired a broker-dealer organization Keystone Capitol in order to streamline regulatory compliance as more and more cryptoassets are classified as securities by the SEC. Speaking on the future of Coinbase’s token inventory, Armstrong seemed optimistic on the prospects of the industry and the development of a wider range of cryptoassets.
“I think there’s going to be hundreds [of tokens] on the platform within years, and millions eventually – we’re hoping to build a platform that is the best solution for any business hoping to issue a native token or currency”
Armstrong closed by saying “Web3 will be about transmitting value on the internet” and that he sees Coinbase as the key to creating an open financial solution for the world. On going public, the founder indicated that Coinbase has no need to do so, but nonetheless plans to continue to operate with the same level of strict financial management while maintaining high growth.
So the founder of a large company in the space is bullish about the industry – why should we take his advice? Despite the obvious concerns of many about the space, Armstrong’s vision of hundreds or thousands of tokens is not entirely unfounded. In the image of web3 as a network of trust online, there is room for a wide range of cryptoassets supporting various micro-economies, and the key to their interaction will be exchanges like Coinbase. As Ben Horowitz noted yesterday, the only thing holding the space back is user culture, and Coinbase’s wallet technology which runs in the browser could be the key to opening up that side of the industry.