Last month, Coinbase, the U.S.-based crypto exchange caused a bit of a stir, after the company announced its policy of restricting employees from sharing their political beliefs. The exchange has had to face a litany of backlash from the tech space since the policy was put into effect. The chief executive of Ripple Labs, a blockchain company, Brad Garlinghouse has now also joined the ranks of people against it. Speaking in an interview, Garlinghouse said that he was not in favor of the company’s policy, stating that tech companies had the responsibility of sharing their views regarding different political matters.
The CEO went on to say that tech companies had played a role in the degradation of political matters within the United States. As they have provided platforms where hate speech can thrive and haven’t been able to police content adequately, they have played a vital role in bringing the US to the boiling point it has now reached. While a number of these issues have occurred through no fault of tech companies, they have inadvertently made them happen and so, they should be willing to come up with solutions for them. As an example, he pointed out that their company was currently suing YouTube for promoting a fake giveaway scam that involved his name.
He added that even though this legal battle wasn’t consuming the company, tech firms need to take more responsibility for the content they are pushing out and find a better way to police it. The apolitical stance taken up by Coinbase is interesting, to say the least. When Brian Armstrong, the company’s CEO, announced it the previous month, he explained that they had chosen this approach to help employees in maintaining their focus i.e. pushing economic freedom by giving everyone easier access to crypto. Armstrong had said that in his opinion, allowing employees to spend their time on activism would just hamper the exchange’s goals.
The CEO also stated that a lot of employees preferred working in a company that would provide them with refuge from the problems in the outside world. Thus, he said that from now on, Coinbase would be focusing minimally on causes that are not aligned with their mission. These include nonprofit work, societal and political issues, along with policy decisions. The announcement of the policy immediately drew some reactions, both within the company, and the industry as a whole.
It was confirmed by Armstrong that after their announcement, almost sixty employees had decided to leave the company. This was approximately 5% of the total workforce at Coinbase, with some additional departures expected soon. As far as the industry is concerned, Square’s boss and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey tweeted that Bitcoin itself was a kind of activism against a financial system that discriminates. Considering the position Coinbase enjoys within the crypto space, the firm is risking pushing its customers away by choosing to turn a blind eye to the political stance in the United States. This doesn’t bode well for the exchange.