How Brian Armstrong, the first cryptocurrency billionaire, got rich
Brian Armstrong is best known as a cryptocurrency billionaire and the founder of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase. The businessman has made a huge contribution to the popularisation of digital assets. He saw the promise of blockchain when the idea itself was unprofitable.
Armstrong was born in the United States in 1983. His entrepreneurial skills emerged at school, where he repaired and sold computers. Brian then went to university, where he decided to train in two exciting fields – computer technology and finance. In 2001, Brian received a bachelor’s degree in both fields and in 2006, he defended his master’s degree in computer science.
First professional steps
While at university, Armstrong completed an internship at IBM Corporation, where he helped develop Java-based data storage technologies. This experience helped him land a job at Deloitte Touche after graduation, where he worked in enterprise risk forecasting. At the same time, Brian developed his own projects, many of which proved commercially successful. One of these was a service to help people find tutors. Armstrong set it up with John Nelson in 2003. At the time, the University Tutor platform was multifunctional. It searched by location and customer requirements. It also allowed communication. The service was actively developing, and Armstrong managed it until 2012. He then became a programmer at Airbnb.
Creation of the Coinbase crypto exchange
In 2010, the future crypto-billionaire learned about Bitcoin and immediately believed in the success of the digital currency. For some time, Armstrong studied the technology and the potential for the money to be commercialised. Then, he came up with the idea of creating a solution for cryptocurrency transactions. Brian worked hard to write the code for the platform and didn’t stop when Bitcoin dropped to USD 2. Eventually, Armstrong, along with Fred Erzam, launched Coinbase in 2012 to enable cryptocurrency payments. Before the platform, owners of digital money could not make transactions quickly and securely. The service began to grow rapidly:
– in 2013, Coinbase received USD 5 million in investment; total funding for the year was USD 25 million;
– in 2015, the New York Stock Exchange invested in Coinbase; Armstrong’s project became the first in the crypto industry to receive exchange funding;
– in 2016, Ethereum transactions became possible;
– in 2017, Coinbase received an official licence to operate in New York. Litecoin joined the Bitcoin and Ethereum cryptocurrencies;
– in 2018, the number of exchange users exceeded 13 million.
Despite the fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrencies, Coinbase has been able to resist and actively develop. As of 2023, the exchange has over USD 25 billion in capitalisation.
Armstrong’s active social position
Brian has repeatedly stated that personal capital is of little interest to him. He is primarily interested in showing the world the vast possibilities of blockchain technology. To back up his words, the businessman joined the Giving Pledge community, whose members have pledged to donate more than 80% of their wealth to charity. In addition, in 2018, Armstrong launched a platform that allows people to transfer money to those who need it.