Brian Armstrong, Coinbase CEO
Coinbase offers to pay employees who decide to leave the cryptocurrency company after it discourages employee activism and discusses political and social issues at work.
CEO Brian Armstrong emailed Coinbase employees that the company would offer severance packages for anyone "who is uncomfortable with this new direction." The compensation packages range from four to six months, depending on how long an employee has been with the company.
"Life is too short to work in a company you are not excited about," Armstrong said in the email previously reported on by The Block. "Hopefully this package will help achieve a win-win outcome for those who choose to opt out."
The news came days after Armstrong posted a blog post clarifying the company's stance on non-engagement on social and political issues.
In particular, Armstrong said the company "will not debate internally about causes or political candidates" and will not get involved if the issues are "unrelated to our core business because we believe impact is only related to focus". The cryptocurrency company is "laser focused" on the use of digital currencies and on making profits, Armstrong said.
The co-founder pointed to "internal conflicts" among Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook who "conduct a wide variety of social activities, including those unrelated to what the company does".
"While I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value in most organizations, both by distracting them and creating an internal rift," said Armstrong. "I think most employees don't want to work in these divisive environments."
The approach differs from many Silicon Valley companies that campaigned for social justice after widespread protests against racial injustice this year.
For example, Google this week announced a massive $ 310 million program to promote the company's diversity and inclusion in a legal battle with shareholders who alleged the company had not taken complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination seriously enough. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg recently tightened restrictions on political and social issues being discussed on the company's internal message boards, but no longer discouraged or banned them altogether.
Armstrong himself was open after George Floyd's death and tweeted his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I decided to speak up. It's a shame that this even has to be said these days, but racism, police brutality and unequal justice are clearly wrong and we must all work to get them out of society." "he said in a series of tweets.
Coinbase's new policy immediately sparked a debate on Twitter. Some, like investor Paul Graham, welcomed the position, predicting that "the most successful companies will follow Coinbase's example".
Others suggested this would drive away tech talent and customers.
The San Francisco-based company is the largest US trading platform for cryptocurrencies. According to PitchBook, the company has raised more than $ 500 million in private funds from Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Tiger Global valued at $ 8 billion.