60 Coinbase Employees Quit After CEO Pledges to Keep Company Apolitical

brian armstrong
Image: Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Following a new mission statement posted roughly a week ago by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, dozens of employees have left the company.

Over 60 employees have reportedly (via Bloomberg) left the company, after Armstrong pledged the company would not follow other companies in pushing social activism with their company. Coinbase is a digital cryptocurrency exchange, one of the largest in the world, providing a marketplace for users to buy, sell, and exchange various forms of cryptocurrency.

Coinbase offered all employees an exit package if they didn’t agree with the new pledge to remain apolitical, a pledge to only focus on their business goals. The 60 or so employees make up roughly 5% of their workforce, and there could be more resignations as more staff are discussing the new pledge.

The debate with Coinbase employees began this summer when the company would not produce a statement of some kind to support Black Lives Matter – prompting a “virtual walkout” with some of their employees. Armstrong said under-represented workers did not take the exit package in numbers disproportionate to their overall workforce.

“It has become common for Silicon Valley companies to engage in a wide variety of social activism, even those unrelated to what the company does. […] So why have we decided to take a different approach?” Armstrong wrote in the earlier update. “The reason is that while I think these efforts are well intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction, and by creating internal division.”

He added, “We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity, and there are many smaller companies who have had their own challenges here. I believe most employees don’t want to work in these divisive environments. They want to work on a winning team that is united and making progress toward an important mission.”

Lastly, Armstrong noted that shoehorning political activism of any kind within their operations goes against the very foundation of their company.

“It would go against our principles of inclusion and belonging to be more of an activist company on issues outside of our core mission,” Armstrong said. “We have people with many different backgrounds and viewpoints at Coinbase, and even if we all agree that something is a problem, we may not agree on how to actually go solve it.”

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