The major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is bracing for another wave of criticism in the wake of CEO Brian Armstrong’s controversial stand against corporate support of political issues like the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a Nov. 25 blog post, Coinbase warned employees that an article that will be published on Sunday by the New York Times alleging racial discrimination inside the firm. The company commented on the contents of the upcoming article, which it said is being written by the well-respected cryptocurrency reporter Nathaniel Popper:
“We expect the story will paint an inaccurate picture that lacks complete information and context, despite our best efforts to fact-check details of the story with the reporter. That said, we know the story will recount episodes that will be difficult for employees to read.”
As Modern Consensus reported in early October, Coinbase attracted a fair share of controversy—even from Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey— after refusing to have Coinbase take a position on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
That stemmed from a Sept. 27 Medium post titled “Coinbase is a mission focused company.” In it, Armstrong argued that corporate social activism unrelated to its core mission has “the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction, and by creating internal division.”
The company subsequently offered a buyout to any employees unhappy with the position, which led to an exodus of several dozen staffers. Coinbase chief compliance officer Jeff Horowitz left at the time, although the company said that the timing was coincidental.
The exchange’s CEO Brian Armstrong found himself immersed in controversy once again after he tweeted support for an October blog post about voting for Kanye West that was critical of both President Donald Trump and then-candidate Joe Biden—not even a month after announcing Coinbase’s apolitical stance.
Yesterday’s post explains that the upcoming article is likely to quote three former Coinbase employees and a former contractor who left the company in early 2019. Furthermore, the exchange expects the story to rely on information from leaked corporate Slack chats, comments from current employees, and internal documents.
Still, Coinbase does not expect the New York Times feature to only cover the firm’s BLM controversy. The blog post said that“the story will likely imply that Black employees were discriminated against” during changes made to Coinbase’s compliance and customer experience organizations in 2018.
“This is false,” the post said.
We investigated, we’re not guilty
Furthermore, Coinbase expects the article to “allege that a number of Black employees and contractors referenced in the story filed complaints with the company” while only three did. The announcement also reads:
“All of those complaints were thoroughly investigated, one through an internal investigation and two by separate third-party investigators, all of whom found no evidence of wrongdoing and concluded the claims were unsubstantiated. We have shared this information with the reporter.”
Overall, Coinbase claims that it does not care about the stance of the New York Times reporters. Instead, the firm said it is afraid of how the article will affect its employees
“We don’t care what The New York Times thinks. The most important thing we care about is you, our employees, and what you think.”
Of course, making the letter public suggests Coinbase also cares about what the public will think.