Brian Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, revealed in a late September blog post that the company would prohibit employees from debating political or social issues, deeming this a “distraction” from the company’s mission.
Armstrong doubled down on his position during a virtual all-hands held on October 1, billed as an “AMA” (for “ask me anything”), from which Motherboard obtained audio. The AMA was meant to further explain the company’s new “apolitical” direction for those who might consider accepting a severance package that was offered to any employee who felt “uncomfortable.” Executives also explained when and where dissent would be appropriate, and explained why they required employees to delete specific political Slack messages.
This, at a company that works with cryptocurrencies intended to replace government banking systems in order to create a more free world.
Are you a Coinbase employee who knows more about the company's new direction and how it's being handled? Using a non-work phone or computer, contact Edward Ongweso Jr securely on Signal at (413) 225 2938, or email [email protected]
During the meeting, Armstrong claimed there is a “silent majority” at Coinbase that agreed with his decision but feared reprisal from colleagues. Armstrong and Coinbase leadership, however, failed to soothe fears that this policy would police employees if they voiced opinions that did not align with Armstrong or this “silent majority.”
One former Coinbase employee who left the company after the AMA and to whom Motherboard provided anonymity due to fear of industry reprisal said that these assurances were insufficient and workers feared surveillance and censorship.
These fears are not unfounded. Emile Choi, Coinbase's chief operating officer, explained that at least two employees were asked to delete Slack posts, and that HR head L.J. Brock “proactively reached out to employees to explain why their posts would be taken down. He had a very pro...