Video Of The Week: Chris Dixon and Brian Armstrong

Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of USV portfolio company Coinbase, sat down with Coinbase Board Member Chris Dixon and talked about how Brian started Coinbase, how the company grew, and where crypto is today.

It’s about 40mins and it’s a great conversation to listen into.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Richard

    A disclaimer :If bitcoin were a success the dollar would weaken, American power and influence in the worlds will likely weaken and Americans as a while will suffer, but wealth would be redirected to bitcoin promoters.If bitcoin were a failure wealth would be (and has been) redirected to bitcoin promoters.The manority of ICOs have proven to be nothing less than a Ponzi scheme .

    1. kidmercury

      Lol false on almost all points here, but the one lost worthy of being addressed is the implicit idea that America’s survival is both destined to continue. The country is already falling apart and is essentially a ticking time bomb, with the ticks getting progressively louder and more apparent.

      1. Richard

        I’m of course working on the presumption that we can work out of the QE 1,2 and 3 and Fed deleveraging and that the dollar remains the world’s currency, which if you are an American you better hope so! The kooks have been screaming for 40 years (who was that guy who ran for president on the corrupt federal reserve ticket year after year?) of the dollar downfall (in the greatest bond bull maket of all time) , but then again even a broken clock eventually get it right. If so, I still see no holes in the conclusion that Americans will suffer if crypto did became a world currency. Also, if dollar reserve does blow up (which it is not likely to do anytime soon if you look at the yield curve) cryptocurrencies are still an unproven system. I still don’t see how a functional system doesn’t leave folks hostage to the authenticators of the Block Chain.

        1. kidmercury

          yes, much like a broken clock does in fact end up being right in due time, so too will dollar bear prognosticators. the only question is when. and when it happens, then what? we are marching towards that day not only economically, but perhaps more significantly, culturally and politically.

      2. JamesHRH

        21st century is Sino.

        1. jason wright

          is, or will be? China has huge problems. The majority of its population live as peasants in the hinterland. It’s still possible that the country could suffer internal convulsions. There are some fifty ethnic groups under the red flag.

          1. JamesHRH

            Both.There will be ups and downs, but the emerging middle class is in Asia & China is the dominant Asian power.

  2. JamesHRH

    Great conversation.Especially the part where they totally geek out about the Blockchain and it’s avility to create protocols.I love when Brian says ‘ I never got to code a protocol before Blockchain.’ It reminds me of the advantages that Bill Joy and Bill Gates had ( access to mainframes ) being democratized to the masses.There’s no business model in new protocols mind you, but super fun listen.

  3. george

    Fascinated by the evolution of Bitcoin; really enjoyed Brian sharing his experiences and views on how the company, product, and people grow while faced with new challenges -emerging new use cases.Well done Chris Dixon (keep it casual).

  4. jason wright

    Brian: “crypto is at the dial-up stage”. Type I PCMCIA stage.

  5. jason wright

    Emerging markets, the unbanked, sending micro payments to Venezuela. Do these people really want to become the next cohort to be exploited to prop up the Ponzi scheme that is the global financial system? P.S. Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia. Something’s very wrong about what is being made to happen to that country. The hidden hand of deep state actors?

    1. JamesHRH

      Or, nationalist ‘us v them’ socialist quickly turned into dictator.

      1. jason wright

        It’s a war footing. The country is under siege from the US. With more oil than Saudi Venezuela could be an extremely influential actor in the Western Hemisphere, America’s extraterritorial domain.

        1. JamesHRH

          This isn’t theoretical for us.We know many VEN expat energy executives. They never mention US involvement in the destruction of the VEN energy companies, the countries institutional democracy or the economy.They just try to help starving family members back home.

  6. LE

    Lots of good things in this video.However on a personal level a few things resonated a great deal.1) Mom (or someone else; wife, girlfriend, friends) whining ‘come and spend some time with us!’. That was actually the rallying call of my ex wife (in addition to everyone else at various times in my life) as I was holed up working, learning or experimenting. As a small example my ex wife would be downstairs with her father etc and saying ‘he is upstairs doing something in his office’ or ‘at the office’ or ‘can’t be here he is working on something’. My first engagement broke off with the cry from my ‘almost mother in law’ to my ‘almost wife’ of ‘you will always be making excuses for him.’ [1] I remember that woman to this day. Sitting with relatives for hours is brain dead boring to me.2) Starting one thing thinking that it will only be for a few years and then you will move on to what you really want to do. First business that I started was exactly like this. To get the money to do the thing that was the opportunity. And true to what Brian said by the time I had the money it was (for that pursuit) to late.3) At high school age who can forget the kids who made fun of you for spending time studying instead of playing. I remember distinctly one person who would use the word ‘faggot’ to describe someone (was not about me though) who was always studying. That ‘faggot’ is now a pediatric medical professor at a well known medical school. Yes back then that word was used quite frequently. Ditto for not trying drugs or pot.I think running (and have always thought) a popularity contest is contra to being an entrepreneur. You almost have to like when people try to make fun of you and drag you away from what you are doing. You have to be selfish. And you basically tell them to go fuck themselves. While I never said that to my mother obviously, I do remember telling her that I was not going to be expected to be at any family event until I could get there which was after I was done whatever I was doing, or had to do, work wise. And I did exactly that and she learned to accept it. I will arrive when I can arrive so don’t have any expectations.Lastly never did those typical boring ‘kid things’ with my kids that everyone else says ‘you have to do that stuff’ and it all worked out and they are all over me and love me etc.[1] Note the total ‘loser’ mentality to even say something like ‘making excuses for him’. As if you should have to apologize for working hard.

    1. Rick Mason

      Kind of explains why Elon Musk was bullied when he was a kid. When I was growing up being a nerd was terribly unpopular, I suspect it always will be.

      1. LE

        Another angle is the following. All else equal being highly likable in high school (as well as middle school) is probably detrimental to focusing on your school work. You will be torn in more directions because people want to be around you and/or spend time with you. So the question is this. Are you a nerd because you are otherwise not popular and likable by mainstream kids or what is typically known as the in crowd? I say that is the case. Exceptions sure. But maybe you become a nerd because you are not accepted (either socially or physically in some way). Nerds (as a group) do look a certain ‘kind of way’, right?Take as an extreme the good looking and physically (almost perfect) and popular high school quarterback. He will be drawn in to social situations that will make it much more likely (if not impossible) for him to be a nerd (interested in what nerds entertain themselves with). Most people are simply not going to be able to resist the pull and attention of others that accept and fawn over them to slave away inside doing computer work or some obscure hobby.

  7. William Mougayar

    Best lesson of the interview: as Coinbase grew from 10 to 500 employees, so did Brian.This can’t be easily said about many other founders of his age.

    1. jason wright

      ‘Adult in the room’ – How old is Brian?

      1. William Mougayar

        not sure, but seems close to 30.

    2. PhilipSugar

      I don’t know and it’s just me, and I don’t what all those 500 people are doing, so I could be speaking out of my rear.When you lead an insurgency it’s always better to be super lean. And I kind of see him as leading an insurgency against big banks and huge governments.If you compare their relative sizes he is tiny.But I have always found it’s better to be too lean than to be too fat, and again I haven’t built a huge home-run so I again could be wrong. And many say when you get market fit don’t worry about wasting money, worry about not spending enough.But I have watched people become the thing they started out to upset.Again just my perspective from the peanut gallery.BTW: Is anybody else stunned at Microsoft’s transformation? $1/month/user for Office 365. Azure is as big as AWS, Server Tools super competitive. Edit: And that is for 5 instances, plus a Terabyte of data.Rallying call: Yes you pay us but you own your data. Is that worth what you pay us?You know many retailers and packaged goods companies are now saying if you work with us no data goes on AWS. Big ones like Walmart and P&G. I asked, is this because you don’t want any of your money going to a huge competitor? Yes, but we are worried about data.Accusing nobody of anything, but they think the FANG companies have taken control of data.

      1. William Mougayar

        2 great points you’re making.1/ I think Brian has hired a very empowered layer of executives under him, and that wasn’t enough emphasized in the interview.2/ Agreed, I have been noticing. Azure is emerging as the anti-FANG, but it’s another centralized form of storage too. Ultimately, we will have true p2p networks that are self-incentivized and free of any censorship or central control (via blockchain technology).

        1. PhilipSugar

          I don’t want to get too religious. I am a believer in blockchain. I think it would be great to have the ability to have no censorship or central control. I think distributed is awesome.But I will make two more points. Sometimes it is good to have a central “neck” you can choke. Businesses and actually individuals like this because frankly most don’t have the technology skill.I mean sure you can build a computer with a raspberry pi, but do people? It’s the same for point of sale systems. Sure you as a store can put yours together but do you want to? I have lost out a ton of times to people that just want to “buy” the stack.My second point is that those 500 people have to get paid for by somebody. Not today, not tomorrow, but sometime. And when that time comes it will probably be more like 5,000 people. Then all of a sudden I think of the Who Song Won’t get fooled again: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.If you told me I could buy 30 licenses of Microsoft office for $90 for 15 months at Costco a decade ago, I would have laughed you out of the room. That they would literally kill their own business like that showed more than intestinal fortitude.

          1. William Mougayar

            OK, and you are displaying conventional logic. The blockchain is a sort of un-stoppable network where each node is incentivized within an economic system that works. This is a new paradigm, and we are still peeling its layers without knowing everything about how it will unravel.

          2. PhilipSugar

            History rhymes and pendulums swing. Do you remember Ham Radio repeaters in the 1990s? Kind of the equivalent for cell phones.

          3. William Mougayar

            I do. Ethereum has now 18,000 nodes. Bitcoin 10,000. OpenBazaar 19,000. Etc. There are others. These networks are quite resilient now.

  8. Michael Elling

    The more I listen to interviews like this the more I think about alchemy. If the original premise is incorrect, there is no amount of effort and number of people that will make it work. To wit, the notion that distributed networks are sustainable. In Chris Dixon’s own words (min18) “there is still no business model in protocols.” At least not until there is a recognition of the need for equilibrating settlements north-south and east-west in the informational stack. These settlements allow for true interconnection, growth and sustainability through incentives and disincentives and value/cost sharing equilibration. That’s what one observes in nature; and not much in crypto land.

  9. Nick A

    Fred, I agree The Ethereum Foubdation needs to be run more as a company and that the Ethereum dev team, while brilliant is terrible at managing deadlines etc. I was wondering have you or other VCs ever offered Help to the EF the way you would with a traditional firm in which you have a stake? Surely they must recognize they need help.