Brian Armstrong wanted to be a tech entrepreneur since he was in high school, but his first serious venture—a tutoring website—never quite took off. Around 2010, while looking to get a job in Silicon Valley, he stumbled across an intriguing idea for a peer-to-peer digital currency called Bitcoin, which quickly turned into his obsession.
Brian’s initial prototype for a hosted Bitcoin wallet got him accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator program, and he launched Coinbase soon thereafter. Many experts warned that cryptocurrency was no more reliable than Monopoly money, but the startup prevailed, surviving wild swings in the crypto market and steadily building a user base.
Today, Coinbase is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, with 7.4 million monthly users, 2,700 employees and over 80 cryptocurrencies traded on its platform.
This episode of How I Built This was produced by Casey Herman and edited by Neva Grant. Research help from Claire Murashima and engineering help from Stu Rushfield. Additional support from Jeff Rogers, J.C. Howard, Julia Carney, Elaine Coates, Farrah Safari, Liz Metzger, Harrison Vijay Tsui and Katie Sypher. You can follow us on Twitter @HowIBuiltThis, on Instagram @HowIBuiltThisNPR and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.