Brian Armstrong wants the company to eventually become the crypto equivalent of a global bank. Some people are taking issue as a key selling point of bitcoin was that it operates outside of banks and government. And yet in order for anyone to actually be able to use them, they increasingly require businesses that resemble banks!
But good luck finding it. There’s no logo outside the building or in the lobby. Nor is there any signage in the hallway outside that reception desk, just fortified metal doors and an intercom. Coinbase employees maintain a low profile, they explain, because most own virtual cryptocurrency, some in quantities that make them multimillionaires on paper. A kidnapper could capture someone and “pull out their fingernails,” a staffer says, to learn the location of their fortune—as if betting your career and well-being on a volatile, unproven financial technology weren’t stressful enough. Such is life at Coinbase, a company where the mood alternates between upbeat and under siege.