How Did Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong Become One of The 100 Richest People on Earth

Think what you may of cryptocurrencies, but the fact remains that they have come to stay, and many people are cashing out big time on it. It may be through buying some of the blockchain money or developing ancillary software that helps others do so. One of the biggest winners in the latter regard is none other than Brian Armstrong. A budding business executive and techpreneur, Armstrong is the founder of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms in the world known as Coinbase.

From its humble beginnings in 2012, when bitcoin was relatively obscure and worth about $6, Coinbase has ridden the wave of progressive growth of the cryptocurrencies to become a leading player in the industry. The company IPO saw it reach a valuation of nearly $100 billion in 2021, and this was described as a water shade for the blockchain sector. On a personal basis, it also marked a watershed for its CEO, Armstrong, as the strong outing saw him enter the billionaires club.

Brian Armstrong Created His First App, Universitytutor.Com, During His College Days

Brian Armstrong now has a net worth of about $20 billion but he didn’t achieve that status overnight. He also didn’t come about his wealth by mistake as he sowed the first seeds for his success as far back as his college days at Rice University, Texas. Whilst juggling his dual college degree program, Armstrong began the business of matching tutors to students. He later created an online tutoring directory in that regard and ran it for nearly a decade. He would only drop it in 2012 when he founded Coinbase.

Meanwhile, the fact that he was running UniersityTutor.com did not stop Brian Armstrong from exploring other pursuits. He interned at the foremost computer hardware company, IBM, for some months. He then gained permanent employment as a consultant (enterprise risk management) with the renowned accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche, in July 2005. This role lasted for about five months before Armstrong dumped it, presumably to go and focus his efforts full-time on UniversityTutor.com.

He is one of the Pioneer Engineers of Popular Home Rental Site, Airbnb

After several years of working on UniversityTutor.com, Brian Armstrong was tempted back into the corporate tech world by the prospect of working for Airbnb. The online home-rental marketplace had opened shop in 2008 and was making a tangible impact after a few years. This spurred Armstrong to join them in May 2011 as their technical product manager. During the next 14 months that he spent there, he was one of the original architects of the company’s payment platform as well as their fraud detection system.

Armstrong contributed immensely to the ultimate success of Airbnb and so, when he quit in June 2012, it was on good terms. Brian Armstrong is still remembered fondly at the company till this date and the founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, has only good things to say about him. According to Chesky, he is really proud of what Armstrong is doing with Coinbase and has kept in touch with him. He also believes that the whole cryptocurrency revolution is a good example of what happens when people are provided with more power, empowerment, and access.

Coinbase’s IPO Valued the Company at Nearly $100 Billion and Quadrupled Brian Armstrong’s Net Worth

There is no gainsaying the fact that Brian Armstrong had a good thing going on at Airbnb. He however harbored dreams of being able to start his own billion-dollar company someday. His first attempt was UniversityTutor.com and when he couldn’t quite cut it, he continued on the lookout for better opportunities. While at Airbnb, Armstrong noticed that they were difficulties in trying to get money to certain parts of the world, including South America. He started looking for a way to solve that problem and he thought of cryptocurrencies.

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At that point, the most common cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was only worth about $6 but Armstrong sensed its strong potentiality. He, therefore, joined hands with a former currency trader, Fred Ehrsham, to co-find a platform where users can store, buy, and sell cryptocurrencies – Coinbase. The company formerly took off in 2012 and operated out of two offices. They recorded some gains on the way and their fortunes improved. They were however tough times though and when cryptocurrencies experienced a slump between 2014 and 2018, Coinbase ran into troubles. Many of their employees left and Ehrsam quit his managerial role, although he kept his shares.

It was left to Brian Armstrong to steady the ship and he managed this superbly. The price of bitcoin regained some strength and business started booming once more. Coinbase now has about 56 million users across 100 countries. They have done $455 billion worth of trades and have about $90 billion in assets on the platform. The company recorded $1.3 billion in revenue and $322 million in profits for 2020 alone. Such strong numbers were what helped Brian Armstrong achieve a net worth of $1.3 billion in March 2019. By April 2021, he broke into the list of the 100 richest people in the world with a net worth of $20 billion.

The major contributory factor to this feat was his company’s IPO. Thanks to the fact that companies such as Tesla are investing in bitcoin and even accepting it as a mode of payment, bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies have continued to acquire institutional credibility and their prices have soared (one bitcoin is now worth as much as $64,000). It, therefore, meant that when Brian Armstrong decided to take Coinbase public in April 2021, there were a lot of people waiting to buy in. The company’s shares opened at $381 per share and their valuation hit $99.6 billion. Armstrong was the biggest beneficiary of all as his 40 million shares in the company became worth about $16 billion overnight.

Armstrong Has Raised Eyebrows with His Anti-Social Causes Stance

While most companies are working hard to ensure that they stay sensitive, or appear to be sensitive to the social justice issues of our times, Coinbase is taking an entirely new direction thanks to its CEO. In a publicly-issued essay penned by Brian Armstrong, he expressed his belief that his employees should remain laser-focused on making profits as it is only with the income made that they can make a tangible impact in the lives of others. The young man also revealed that the world was presently filled with much strife over politics and race, and he wanted his workplace to be a refugee from all that.

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Armstrong acknowledged that there would be employees who would want to continue their activism. He, therefore, offered them a chance to resign and get their full severance pay. As you can expect, this essay caused a small ruckus with people evenly divided along the lines of those supporting Armstrong’s decision and those dissenting. The uproar over the essay has died down and it’s now back to business for the techpreneur and his company.

key Takeaways 

  • Brian Armstrong is one of the 100 richest individuals in the world with a net worth of $20 billion.
  • He owes his fortune to his shares in the cryptocurrency trading and storage platform, Coinbase, which he co-founded in 2012.
  • Prior to that, Brian Armstrong had made his mark as one of the pioneer engineers for the popular home rental app, Airbnb.
  • He also founded a university tutoring directory, UniversityTutor.com, during his college days at Rice University Texas.
  • Brian Armstrong added $16 billion to his net worth following Coinbase’s successful IPO in 2021.
  • He has signed the Giving Pledge and is committed to helping others realize their dreams.
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Ngozika Agu
Ngozika can turn any personal finance or entertainment information into an exciting, delightful and compelling article that informs and educates, she can quickly turn random letters into epic stories that not only entertain but also inspires or motivates

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