Careers at Coinbase
Coinbase aims to develop and manage an open online financial system that makes it easy for non-technical consumers and merchants alike to transact using digital currency bitcoin. It also provides a secure and reliable for users to manage their bitcoin wallets.
Coinbase was launched in 2012 by Computer Science graduates Brian Armstrong (“Armstrong”) and Fred Ehrsam (“Ehrsam”). The Company has its roots in the prolific startup incubator Y Combinator, where Armstrong and Ehrsam first met.
The pair developed an interest in establishing a universal, online platform for payments and money management that would take advantage of growing digital currency bitcoin. The platform would allow users with no technical expertise to exchange bitcoin for traditional currency with ease, using a similar model to that employed by PayPal, which uses email addresses connected directly to user bank accounts.
Coinbase received $600,000 in seed capital from Y Combinator in 2012. The Company has gone on to receive more than $102 million in investment in four rounds of funding. Its 2013 Series A round of funding, led by a $5 million investment by Union Square Ventures, was, at the time, the largest round of funding for any bitcoin startup.
The Company to date has attracted 23 individual investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Digital Currency Group, and Queensbridge Venture Partners. The inclusion of the New York Stock Exchange among the Company’s financial backers has afforded it a greater degree of respectability.
Benefits at Coinbase
Business model of Coinbase
Coinbase’s primary customers are consumers who have adopted the use of bitcoin and require transaction, exchange and secure management services for their digital currency. The Company currently provides services to 3.5 million users across 32 countries worldwide, among whom are casual bitcoin owners and professional exchange traders. Coinbase also provides services and tools to 42,000 online merchants, as well as to payment solutions providers and financial institutions that wish to profit from the burgeoning digital currency market.
Research from December 2013 suggested that around half of Coinbase’s then 650,000 users were aged between 25 and 34, with users between 18 and 24 and between 25 and 44 each representing around 15%. The remaining share was for users over the age of 45. The vast majority of users across all age groups were recorded as being male. Research identified no information to suggest there has been a significant change in demographics in the past two years.
The key value propositions of Coinbase are the convenience and ease with which its platform can be used by consumers and the security protections it provides. Its services are accessible via its desktop and mobile channels, enabling users to complete transactions from anywhere at any time, without subscription and with only a 1% charge on exchange transactions. Coinbase purports to process its transactions quickly, confirming the majority of its bitcoin payments in just seconds and initiating payments on a daily basis.
Insurance protection is included on all transactions as standard, and the Company does not impose chargebacks, reducing the costs associated with online fraud. The Company stores 98% of user funds offline for added protection and employs a two-step verification process on all user activity.
With its API and merchant tools, Coinbase also allows online sellers and developers to access the growing bitcoin market. Coinbase currently has very few competitors in an industry that is still relatively new, and has so far established itself as a market leader.
Coinbase can be accessed from its desktop and mobile websites at www.coinbase.com, as well as via its Apple iOS and Google Play apps.
The Company’s services can also be accessed indirectly through various payment providers and online merchants that have utilised Coinbase integration.
Coinbase offers a self-service platform, whereby all services are made available to users once they have completed their online registration. Subsequent transactions require no direct contact with the Company, with many services being almost entirely automated.
Coinbase interacts with its users via its blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Its website also hosts a community forum through which users are able to interact with each other and are able to stay up to date with company announcements and developments. The Company’s community forum is divided into sections for its various users, with separate forums for Coinbase Wallet users, developers, merchants and exchange customers. Coinbase also maintains a ‘Learn’ section on its website, where more general information on bitcoin and the countries where the currency is supported is included.
With the release of an API and merchant tools, developers and merchants are able to develop their own integration with Coinbase semi-autonomously, with only limited interaction with the Company’s employees. Partnerships, however, require a greater degree of personal service from the Coinbase team.
Coinbase operates an international digital currency exchange and bitcoin wallet platform that enables consumers and merchants to securely buy, use, and receive bitcoin currency.
It also facilitates bitcoin transactions between consumers and online merchants, and provides merchant tools and an API to developers for further digital currency integration. Coinbase Wallet additionally allows users to convert any supported currency to bitcoin via their own bank account.
Coinbase partners with payment solutions providers, online retailers, and information technology developers, all of which work to broaden the Company’s reach and accessibility for consumers. Coinbase has formed integration partnerships with online merchants that have started accepting bitcoin payments, including Expedia, Dell and Overstock, among others. Coinbase also works with payment solutions companies – including Stripe, Braintree and PayPal – to enable further bitcoin processing capabilities.
The Company has also partnered with Shift Payments in 2015 to produce a bitcoin debit card which links to Coinbase user accounts. Coinbase has also partnered with a number of developers following the release of its API in 2014, and has made its merchant tools available to online retailers, allowing developers to work on additional Coinbase integration across multiple platforms.
Coinbase’s key resources are its platform, supported by its IT infrastructure, most notably its secure data centres.
The Company’s network of merchants and payment providers would also be considered a resource, in that they greatly increase the reach of Coinbase’s products and services.
Coinbase’s personnel who maintain the Company’s platform and manage its partnerships, also play a key role in the Company’s operation and development.
As an online business, Coinbase incurs costs related to the development and maintenance of its platform, including the operation of data centres, rental of servers and payment of personnel.
The Company also accrues significant costs during its exchange services, with a reported 20% to 30% of its revenue going to the international exchanges through which the Company submits its buy and sell orders.
Coinbase does not charge a subscription fee to its customers, nor does it charge a fee to merchants to receive bitcoin payments. Instead, the Company generates revenue by charging a fee on all exchange orders processed, both to consumers and to merchants. For merchants, the first $1 million of transactions do not carry a transaction fee; however, a 1% fee is charged on all subsequent transactions. A 1% fee is also charged to consumers.
info: Brian has served as Coinbase’s Chief Executive Officer since its foundation in 2012. He previously held a number of roles in the technology space, starting his career in 2003 as an intern at IBM. In August 2003 he founded e-learning company UniversityTutor.com, where he served as Chief Executive Officer until May 2012. He resigned this executive function shortly after joining Airbnb in 2011, where he worked as a software engineer specialising in fraud prevention. He stayed with Airbnb only one year before leaving to found Coinbase. Armstrong holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s degree in Computer Science from Rice University.
info: Fred does not appear to perform an executive role at Coinbase. He however maintains some involvement in the Company as a co-founder and shareholder. Prior to co-founding Coinbase, Ehrsam worked for several high-profile financial institutions, starting his career as a portfolio analyst at asset management firm Blackrock in 2009. He joined Goldman Sachs as a trader in its New York securities division in 2010 before leaving to focus on Coinbase. Ehrsam holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Duke University.
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