Brian Armstrong is an American businessman and software developer famous for operating the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. By managing Coinbase, Armstrong provides custodian, brokerage, and exchange services to more than 35 million customers in over 100 countries for both institutional and retail markets.
Armstrong graduated at the William Marsh Rice University in Texas, where he earned a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and computer science. His career officially began in Deloitte, where he worked as a consultant for Enterprise Risk Management, a position which he took after a short internship at IBM.
In 2010 Brian Armstrong stumbled upon Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper - an event that marked the start of his crypto journey. While working at Airbnb as a software engineer a year later, Armstrong saw the difficulties of sending international payments. Because of the prominent difficulties, he decided to work weekends on a side project that would allow users to buy and store cryptocurrencies.
In 2012 Armstrong entered a startup accelerator held by Y Combinator and received a $150,000 grant. The capital was subsequently used to found Coinbase together with business executive and investor Frederick Ehrsam.
With the help of venture capitalists and prominent investors, Coinbase managed to rise rapidly over the course of the next few years. A year within the company’s launch, Armstrong and Ehrsam secured a $5 million investment from Union Square Ventures. By the end of the year, the co-founders had also managed to raise a total of $25 million from Andreessen Horowitz and Ribbit Capital.
In 2015 Coinbase became the first cryptocurrency exchange for raising capital from a large financial institution. The New York Stock Exchange, Draper Fisher, and a number of banks have invested a sum of $75 million into Coinbase. As the exchange continued to grow, it naturally managed to raise even more investments.
In 2017 the New York Department of Financial Services gave Coinbase the BitLicense, which allowed it to provide its services to NY citizens.
Around the same time, Coinbase reached the stage of being a ‘unicorn company’ (the first one in the crypto space) by achieving a valuation of over one billion dollars. In 2021 Coinbase also became the first exchange to go public after being listed on the Nasdaq under a valuation of $99.6 billion.