Building the Future: Brian Armstrong


Brian Armstrong is, without a doubt, one of the most influential people within the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. He has appeared in many 40 under 40 publications for his numerous achievements, including Coinbases’ coveted ‘Unicorn’ status as a billion dollar company.

In a relatively short-career, Armstrong has worked as an engineer and consultant for companies such as IBM, Deloitte, Airbnb, and Touche. This industry experience clearly fostered a strong affiliation with technology, disruption, and engineering, resulting in unimaginable success.

Early Life

Born January 25, 1983, Brian grew up in San Jose, California. At high school he began learning CSS and Java, taking a keep interest in computer technology. His first paying job saw him earning money designing websites for small-scale business in the local area – whilst still at High School.

Further study took place at The Rice University, Houston, Texas, in 2001, where he read Computer Science and Economics. In 2001 he graduated with a double major in Economics and Computer Science. Studying continued with a Master’s degree in Computer Science in 2006.

Before Blockchain

Brian spent four months as an intern at IBM in San Jose, California, where he designed Java-based stools for Network Attached Storage devices. After graduating from Rice University, he secured a job at Deloitte and Touche as an Enterprise Risk Management Consultant. It was at this time that Armstrong co-founded his first business enterprise with John Nelson in June 2003, while he was still a junior. He remained as CEO of for 8 years.

Whilst working as CEO Brian began yet more work at as a Software Engineer in May 2011. His stay at Airbnb was short, leaving in June of 2012 to establish Coinbase.

Blockchain Career and Coinbase

It was in 2010 that Armstrong became interested in Bitcoin, realizing that there weren’t many Bitcoin startups at the time. He saw the commercial opportunity, devising ways in which to do capitalize on the growing demand. Together with Fred Ehrsam, he founded Coinbase in June 2012. They both envisioned Coinbase becoming a leading Bitcoin exchange marketplace with retail and industry customers able to purchase the cryptocurrency.

The new team enrolled their startup in the Y Combinator Startup Incubator Program, with the company fully launching in October 2012, providing Bitcoin buying and selling services through bank transfers.

As a result of notable investors, Brian and Fred were able to rapidly expand the size of the Coinbase’s operations in a very short time. For example, they secured a $5 million investment from Union Square Ventures (USV), and in December 2013, USV in association with Ribbit Capital and Andreessen Horowitz invested a total of $25 million. In January 2015, Coinbase became the first Bitcoin exchange to be a recipient of direct investment from a major financial institution. The New York Stock Exchange, in conjunction with several banks and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, invested an incredible $75 million into the company.

Coinbase Website


In 2017, Coinbase’s customers rose to an impressive 13.3 million, helping to cement the companies financial status as a Unicorn (valued at over $1bn). Despite this year’s bear market, the company’s financial reach seems to be exponentially growing, and now lists Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, ZRX and more. With ever-expanding retail and industry custody solutions, as well as increased exchange-pairings, both Coinbase and its founder’s cryptocurrency future seems very bright.