Brian Armstrong is one of the most influential people working in the cryptocurrency industry and is the CEO and co-founder of Coinbase, one of the largest and most popular Bitcoin exchange in the world. He is a leading advocate of Bitcoin adoption, regularly speaking at conferences, workshops, and seminars.

1.Early life

Brian Armstrong was born on January 25, 1983. He grew up in San Jose, California. While in High School, he developed an aptitude for computer technology. He started learning Java and CSS. He was given the label of a ‘nerd’ in school.  He started designing websites for small-scale business in the areas in of San Jose while still in High School.


Brian graduated in 2005 from Rice University with a double major in Computer Science and Economics. He continued studying in Rice University and pursued a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. While studying at Rice University, Brian did an internship at IBM.

3.Work profile

Brian worked as a developer for IBM, engineer and consultant at Deloitte, Touche and Airbnb. All his life Brian has maintained a strong interest in the technology market and has participated actively in developing solutions for the industry.

4.University tutor

Brian co- founded with John Nelson in August 2003 while he was attending Rice University and studying computer science. The vision and objective of was to become the world’s largest tutoring directory for containing tutors and companies for free. It is a global platform that matches students with a wide array of different tutors from across the world. The service allows tutors to advertise their work and students and parents can select the tutor that is best suited to them. Brian was the CEO for a period of 8 years, from August 2003 to May 2012.

5.Book and movie

Brian wrote a book ‘Breaking Free: How to Work at Home with the Perfect Small Business Opportunity’.

Brian Armstrong starred in the movie ‘Rise and Rise of Bitcoin’ which is a 2014 American documentary film. The film shows the interviews of multiple companies and people that have played important parts in the expansion of Bitcoin.


Brian started working as a software Engineer at Airbnb from May 2011. He was part of the hospitality marketplace which focused on fraud prevention. Brian was an important part of the team and worked here for a period of just one year and left in June 2011 when he established Coinbase.

7.Blockchain Technology Career

The first time Brian became aware of Bitcoin was in Christmas of 2010. He immediately became interested and realized that there were not many Bitcoin startups at that time and he saw this as an opportunity. He started thinking of ways to make maximum use of this opportunity and this is when he came up with the idea of Coinbase.

Since Brian and his friends had gone through a lot of business ideas when in High School, this helped him a lot and it shaped him well when he began to undertaken his business as Coinbase.

8.Foundation of Coinbase

Brian Armstrong co-founded Coinbase along with Fred Ehrsam, and it was fully launched in 2012 and is also the chief executive of Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. thanks to an ever-expanding list of features, services and robust security record.  It is based in San Francisco. Coinbase allows users to purchase cryptocurrencies with fiat. They have developed a brilliant user interface and purchasing crypto is as easy as it could be. The team has also enrolled their startup in the Y Combinator Startup Incubator Program. The program provides platforms for startups and investing in them. The company provides Bitcoin buying and selling services through bank transfers.

9.Investors of coinbase

Coinbase has had a number of investors and venture capitalists over a period of time. This really helped Brian and Fred to expand the Coinbase operations in a short span of time.

  • In 2013, Coinbase secured a $5million investment from Union Square Ventures (USV).
  • In December 2013, USV in association with Ribbit Capital and Andreessen Horowitz invested a total of $25 million in Coinbase.
  • 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 a large amount of $75 million into the company.
  • In October 2018, Coinbase raised $300 million in a financing round led by Tiger Global that valued the company at $8 billion.

10.Growth of Coinbase in a short period

  • In 2016, 4.7 million people had accounts with Coinbase.
  • In 2017, the number rose to 13.3 million and this was possible because of Brian’s passion.
  • Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, one of the cryptocurrency giants, was said to be the third person that was hired to work for Coinbase platform when it was formed. Charlie started working with Brian at Coinbase when he left his job at Google. He worked as the Director of Engineering while at the company until he left in June, 2017.
  • In 2017 there was a time when Coinbase was the most downloaded app on iPhone in America and it generated $1 billion revnue for Coinbase.
11.Unicorn status

Coinbase attained the Unicorn status in August 2017 and became the first cryptocurrency to attain the prestigious status. For a cryptocurrency to attain the unicorn status, its value must be $1 billion or more. Coinbase had a valuation of $1.6 billion, making it the first startup in the world of crypto with a valuation of more than $1 billion.

Initially the company was valued at $400 million in 2014, according to Coin Telegraph. Today, the company has grown 2.5 times bigger than what it was, and investors see this growth as consistent and satisfactory. According to Brian, digital currencies are having their “Netscape” moments.

12.IRS inquiry

Coinbase was asked to provide detailed personal information for

more than one million customers with what is known as a “John Doe Summons“ by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS)  for the year 2013-2015.

Coinbase refused to do so and fought against the IRS and their wide reaching summons and won. They only had to provide information regarding accounts that conducted Bitcoin transactions, either through exchanging Bitcoin for dollars or through sending and receiving coins from another bitcoin user, worth $20,000 and above.

13.Coinbase future

Over the years Coinbase has spread to various countries across the globe.  They act as broker exchanges of Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Etherum with fiat currencies in 32 countries and carry out Bitcoin transactions and storage in over 185 countries around the world.  Coinbase got access to UK’s Faster Payments Scheme which meant that they were able to offer instant fiat bank payments to their UK-based customers.

Coinbase was issued a BitLocense by The New York State DFS which allowed the company to offer virtual currency trading services in the state of New York.  The New York DFS also authorized the company to provide Ethereum and Litecoin trading services in the state.

Inspite of facing hurdles Coinbase has come out to be a strong company and continues to grow. In the near future, Brian believes that Bitcoin will be completely legal and some countries will have actual currency control.


Brian Armstrong has a net worth of $1.3 billion as on 15th june 2019.

15.Philanthropic Effort

Brian first philanthropic effort was by starting ‘,’ which made direct cash transfers to people living in poverty. Brian wanted to help people and sees their ideas giving them results. So far, has raised $4 million worth of cryptocurrencies from donors.

Brain signed the Giving Pledge which was started by Buffet and Bill Gates in 2010, to give away a bulk of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Brian was the first crypto entrepreneur to sign the pledge.