Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO of cryptocurrency company Coinbase, wanted to divorce politics from his company. It backfired.

In a recent memo, Armstrong outlined where Coinbase stands in terms of company culture and politics: “We are an intense culture and we are an apolitical culture,” he wrote. He followed up by offering a severance package for any employees who wished to leave the company if they didn’t agree with its mission. 60 employees took the offer, with more still in talks to leave.

💎 Data Digs

Currently, Coinbase has around 1,420 employees, and that number has been steadily increasing throughout the year. The chart doesn’t necessarily reflect the loss of the 60 employees, most likely because many of them may not have updated their LinkedIn profiles. According to Armstrong, the 60 who left constitute a 5% loss in Coinbase’s workforce.

⚔️ Big Picture

  • Armstrong’s memo could have been influenced by a previous incident: During a company-wide meeting in June, Armstrong refused to say “black lives matter”, which prompted a virtual walkout by some employees. One employee told Business Insider that it was the recent memo that led to 60 employees quitting rather than the “black lives matter” incident. According to the report, Coinbase employees didn’t think of the company as a particularly political place to work at before the memo.
  • Last week, tennis player and venture capitalist Serena Williams removed all mention of Coinbase from her VC site. Her husband, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, is also an investor in Coinbase. It’s still unclear whether the move was in connection with Armstrong’s memo or Coinbase’s new policies.

⚡ Get Ahead

The loss of 60 employees may not strike a huge blow to Coinbase, but it’s a telling sign that those employees would rather join the 12.6 million unemployed Americans than continue to work for Armstrong. The company is doing well overall, hitting a valuation of $8 billion after a recent $300 million fundraising round.

Armstrong has been supported as well as vilified by the tech world, which, at least as far as Silicon Valley is concerned, is mostly liberal. Investor Paul Graham came out as a vocal supporter of the new policy, saying in a tweet, “I predict most successful companies will follow Coinbase's lead. If only because those who don't are less likely to succeed.”

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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