Opinion,  Politics

CEO of ‘apolitical’ Coinbase shares blog post about voting for Kanye West

Brian Armstrong is being accused of hypocrisy for his now-deleted tweet after announcing an apolitical policy that caused dozens of staffers to resign; Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin came to his defense

Coinbase’s new rules are crystal clear: employees are forbidden from advocating for political causes and candidates because it is a “distraction” from the company’s mission.

The exchange’s stance caused controversy and upheaval—with dozens of staffers taking an exit package.

And in a move that will likely infuriate staffers further, Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong has already violated the self-same policy that he was insistent on enforcing.

“Epic post”

it’s not political if there’s a picture of Homer Simpson (Photo: Twitter)

On Friday, Armstrong tweeted about an “epic post” written by Rob Rhinehart, the founder of meal replacement brand Soylent. The title of the 5,400-word post? “Why I am voting for Kanye West.”

In the article, Rhinehart says he is now sick of politics—and until recently, he wasn’t planning to vote. Although the author is full of praise for Barack Obama’s time in office, he dismisses Trump as someone who should be disqualified from leadership for being a liar and then questions the legitimacy of Biden’s selection as the Democratic party’s candidate.

He goes on to argue that America needs a real leader—but not necessarily someone who is political. Endorsing West, he adds:

“Kanye’s personality seems eccentric, therefore he must be unfit for leadership. Really? Trump is far more chaotic and erratic and he developed a huge following. If Kanye seems crazy it is because the world is crazy. He is the most sane man alive.”

Rhinehart concludes the missive by vowing to follow West even if he is not elected.

Hypocrisy?

Armstrong’s tweet has since been deleted, but nonetheless, the message has attracted widespread criticism on the social network and allegations of hypocrisy.

But some, including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, came to Armstrong’s defense. Pointing to how the Coinbase CEO tweeted in support of Black Lives matter in March, Buterin tweeted:

“The idea that individuals in the company express their viewpoints but the company itself stays non-aligned is a consistent philosophy and I don’t think Brian’s tweet today violated it! Is the philosophy good? That’s a separate question and a complicated one; not intending to stake any particular position on that here.”

Buterin also argued that because Armstrong’s Twitter account “seems like a 50/50 mix of Coinbase-related content and personal-interest content.”

Because of that, he added, “IMO definitely enough personal-interest content for a veil of separation between person and company to be reasonable.”

Square CEO Jack Dorsey was one of the first crypto executives to criticize Coinbase’s new policy. Voicing his disapproval earlier this month, he said that Bitcoin is inherently political—“direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society.”

Modern Consensus has contacted Coinbase for a comment.

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C Sephton is a journalist with an interest in cryptocurrencies, personal finance, and financial inclusion—as well as the challenges the crypto industry faces in achieving mainstream adoption. He owns cryptocurrencies.

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