Brian Armstrong is the Co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, the company, and platform that’s trying to create an open financial system for the world.
“People are irrationally pessimistic.” That’s a comment that Brian Armstrong made after Bitcoin crashed in December of 2017. I don’t know who the unicorn is: Brian Armstrong or Coinbase. I think it’s Armstrong. The guy’s surely not irrationally pessimistic himself. With a crypto net worth approaching a billion dollars, he’s the Cornelius Vanderbilt of the 21st century, making his wealth from pans and pickaxes instead of from actually panning for gold. Or, more apropos to Vanderbilt, Armstrong’s built and is building, owns, and runs the crypto railroad. I’m not casting aspersions—he’s no robber baron—as I’m a Coinbase user myself. I love it. To me, he’s rationally optimistic.
I don’t know if I could have predicted this from Armstrong’s past, which has a lovely pedigree but doesn’t enjoy the eccentric prodigy component. He seems a little square. Mind you, Stanford has more than enough Unicorn alumni. I’d love to be the admissions officer who rejected Armstrong’s application. Rice is top-drawer and the unicorn proof is in the unicorn pudding.
From his Computer Science Bachelors and Masters to his stint at Deloitte as a consultant, even to his launch of UniversityTutor.com during his Junior year at Rice, it would be very hard to predict that he would conceive of and create the most important, easy to use, and popular platform for buying, trading, and selling cryptocurrencies on planet earth—all before he was 30 (he’s only 35 now).
But he’s done much more than that. He’s a cryptocurrency ambassador, advocate, and a bit of a Johnny “Cryptoseed.” Coinbase, under Brian Armstrong’s leadership, has wooed, seduced, and convinced well over ten-million customers across 32 million countries to dip their toe—or jump in head-first—into the cryptoconomy.
As proof that Brian Armstrong suffers from rational optimism, he truly believes that Bitcoin will not only be completely legal, he also believes that Bitcoin will surpass the US Dollar as a reserve currency in 10-15 years.
While becoming the Google of Crypto seems like a high bar (what if Google decides to become the Google of Crypto? Or Amazon?), if anyone or any company can attain those numbers and that level of market penetration and name recognition, it’s Brian Armstrong and Coinbase.
Takeaway: You can please your mom and dad and go to college and get your Masters or Ph.D. and not miss the boat when it comes to becoming successful, even in the crypto space. You don’t need to be a maverick Harvard dropout like Gates or the Zuck or a no college coder who doesn’t see the value in going to college. Brian Armstrong received his undergad and graduate degrees and spent years working as a consultant at multinationals like Deloitte before he found his perfect project, Coinbase.