Back in 2012, Coinbase was one of the first digital currency exchange companies. Fast-forward to the present day, and the company is the most successful cryptocurrency exchange company in the US.
While it may be true that the timing proved to be favorable for the company to achieve extraordinary results, the timing alone couldn’t have been a single factor. In fact, our research has shown that Coinbase is a product of hard work, devotion, and uniqueness.
In order to really understand how Coinbase was ahead of its time, let’s investigate its roots and how it came to be.
What is Coinbase?
Before we investigate the timeline of Coinbase’s existence, let’s make a quick Coinbase review, shall we?
As mentioned earlier, Coinbase is a company that specializes in digital currency – aka cryptocurrency – exchange. Although the company’s headquarters are based in California, United States, Coinbase has more than 43 million verified users from all around the world.
It’s worth noting, however, that according to the co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong himself, Coinbase doesn’t exactly have a traditional headquarter like it used to. We’ll touch more on that later when we get to the timeline.
How does it work?
Coinbase has different functions and services to offer for two main categories of their clients – individuals and companies.
If you’re not representing a company but only yourself, you can use Coinbase for the following.
- Buying and selling crypto
- Earning crypto by learning about it
- Using Coinbase Wallet. It allows you to send and receive crypto, secure your storage, and have all different types of crypto in one place.
- Get a Coinbase Card. It’s a Visa Debit card with your Coinbase balance. It works the exact same way as a regular card – you can pay with a contactless, PIN, withdraw cash from any ATM, use it worldwide, and connect it to your Coinbase Wallet. Naturally, tracking transactions and balance history is an option as well.
Now, if you happen to be a business, here’s what you can expect from Coinbase.
- The prime brokerage platform with tools. The tools include stress-tested cold storage, multiple execution options, API solutions to programmatically manage your assets.
- Asset custodian.
- Coinbase Commerce. To accept crypto from anyone without any fees, sell crypto for cash or USD coin, use it globally without middlemen.
What makes Coinbase so reliable?
As you already know, the company is basically the digital wallet that gives you the platform to earn, use, invest, spend, and save cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Tezos are just a few of them and the list goes on.
However, the thoughtful functionality and the long list of supported crypto aren’t the only things that Coinbase prides itself with.
As a matter of fact, Coinbase is best-known for safe transactions and storage. More specifically, Coinbase stores the majority of the digital assets in offline storage that is divided into different geographical locations.
We know what you might be thinking right now.
“How does one store digital assets in offline storage?”
We understand the confusion, so allow us to share the explanation in the company’s own words in the image below.
In addition, to make sure that digital assets are 100% secure, the 2% of the crypto that is stored on servers is protected with Coinbase’s insurance policy.
But enough about the present. Let’s move back in time and get a closer look at how Coinbase came to life and progressed along the way!
How it all started
The company was founded by a former Airbnb engineer Brian Armstrong and a former Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam.
Brian Armstrong, the current CEO of Coinbase is particularly interesting. Having been raised by parents who were both engineers, after graduating in 2006 himself, Armstrong spent a year in Buenos Aires, where one might say that he slowly started his path to Coinbase thanks to discovering the effect of hyperinflation.
Fast-forward to 2010 and that was when Brian Armstrong has discovered the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto and his famous Bitcoin Whitepaper in which he describes Bitcoin itself and how it works.
In 2011 Armstrong joined Airbnb as a software engineer. Airbnb became the final push for Armstrong to start Coinbase, as he encountered different payment systems around 190 countries. In his encounter with the global payment systems, Armstrong has identified that sending money to South America is a long and complex process that disturbs business practices.
Already in 2012, he received an investment of $150,000. That was when Coinbase materialized itself from an idea into reality by providing services to buy and sell Bitcoins through bank transfers.
As seen in the image below, the company’s website was already set up and functioning in 2012. As we go down the memory lane, you will see the progression of Coinbase’s website.
Also, we’d like to note that when Coinbase started, it was offering only one cryptocurrency and it was Bitcoin. With time, the company has integrated other cryptocurrencies and better-developed services.
2013 – 1st year of existence
The year of investments
The year 2013 was very successful in terms of investments that Coinbase has received during the year.
It all started with a generous investment of $5 million from a venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, which was essentially approved and facilitated by Fred Wilson.
The year wasn’t even over when Coinbase has received another investment of $25 million from 3 other venture capital firms named Union Square Ventures (aka USV), Ribbit Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz.
The total amount of investments in 2013 adds up to $30 million, allowing the company to do wonders thanks to financial backup.
Now, if we look at the website of Coinbase back in 2013 and compare it to the version from 2012, it’s obvious that the layout and design have strongly improved, especially highlighting Coinbase’s signature blue color as well as one of the main selling points of Bitcoin – global usage and connection represented in the globe.
Once again, one year after the foundation of Coinbase we can still see that Bitcoin is the sole focus when it comes to crypto. Let’s find out if that changes the next year!
2014 – 2nd year of existence
Time for productivity and establishment
In 2014 it becomes clear that the generous investments in 2013 did make a significantly positive impact, as it helped the company grow its customer base to one million.
In addition, the company has acquired the beloved blockchain explorer service called Blockr. How can Bitcoin-related services function without a proper blockchain, right?
The growth didn’t end with just blockchain, by the way.
Now that Coinbase had a stable financial stance, it was the perfect time to ensure the company’s reliability and safety. To do that, Coinbase has also taken care of insurance coverage of bitcoin and launched the vault system for secure bitcoin storage.
That sounds like great progress, right?
Absolutely, but like you probably guessed, the story of Coinbase’s endeavors in 2014 isn’t over.
All this work and development would be for nothing if bitcoin wasn’t recognized as a worthy currency that people could actually put to use by purchasing goods and services.
Hence, Coinbase has established strong and long-lasting connections with companies like Time Inc., Dell, Expedia, PayPal, and others. This essentially means that these companies have agreed to support bitcoin payments.
We have seen a significant change in the website from 2012 to 2013. After the previous paragraph, it’s no secret that 2014 was a busy year for Coinbase.
So, it’s only natural to wonder: did the fast pace affect the company’s website? Were any changes made?
As the website was, and still is, the main gateway to using Coinbase’s services, the website wasn’t forgotten about.
In addition, as seen from the image below, it appears that Coinbase has found its perfect layout back in 2013, just made some adjustments that make the website more attractive. It seems likely that at this time Coinbase has been testing the success of different types of details on the homepage.
2015 – 3rd year of existence
The further flow of investments and continuous productivity
As it turns out, the hard work is paying off in 2015, making the year 2015 a mix of 2013 and 2014.
Why like 2013?
In the first month of 2015, January, Coinbase has already received a collective investment of $75 million from a group of banks, USAA, and the New York Stock Exchange.
Compare to 2013, however, the amount of investment is double the size, which clearly implies generally increased trust and recognition of the company.
Now, as you’ll remember from 2014, it mostly stood out as a productive and efficient year when Coinbase got a lot of significant tasks done.
It appears that the spirit of productivity stayed alive in 2015, as Coinbase successfully launched Bitcoin Exchange for professional traders who were based in the U.S.
Once again, Coinbase has kept the general layout of the website with a few adjustments.
This is when Coinbase displays the numbers higher up on the website for the first time.
Now we can see the amount of Bitcoin traded, the number of supported countries, and customers served.
In addition, Coinbase has acquired partners of significant authority level, so naturally, their names are displayed higher on the page to increase the level of trust.
2016 – 4th year of existence
2016 is the year when Coinbase began growing its crypto family by adding retail support to Ether, which was the first step that will eventually lead to the support of many others.
In addition, the previously mentioned Coinbase Bitcoin Exchange has been renamed Global Digital Asset Exchange (aka GDAX). The change is understandable, of course, as it seems that Coinbase Bitcoin Exchange was no longer a suitable name due to Coinbase’s plans to support other cryptocurrencies along with Bitcoin.
It seems that the website design that Coinbase had in 2015 proved to be successful, as it stayed the same in 2016. Perhaps a website analysis showed positive results for the current state?
2017 – 5th year of existence
Further effort to establish more crypto on Coinbase
In 2017 Coinbase is very well-established, but that doesn’t mean that the company decided to sit back and relax.
Instead, it appears that the company continued to work on expanding its services to other cryptocurrencies. Consequentially, Coinbase has obtained the BitLicense, the company also got licensed to trade in Ethereum and Litecoin.
Just like in 2016, no major changes have been made on the website and it stays mostly the same.
2018 – 6th year of existence
The year of improvement
Probably the best-describing word for Coinbase in 2018 would be “improvement”.
As it was seen in the previous years, many companies and institutions relied on Coinbase and believed in its mission, which was proved by their large investments. This consequentially allowed Coinbase to turn ideas into a real business and in 2018 the company was valued at $8.1 billion.
2018 was the year when Coinbase gave something back to the world and joined the investment game.
More specifically, in 2018 Coinbase has announced that it created an early-stage venture fund called Coinbase Ventures. The goal of the fund was to invest in companies that specialized in cryptocurrency and blockchain.
Already one month later the fund, Coinbase Ventures, announced that the very first investment was made in a start-up that builds Ethereum smart contracts. The company’s name is Compound Labs.
In addition, GDAX, which was previously known as Coinbase Bitcoin Exchange, rebranded once again. This time, it was called Coinbase Pro, which is also the name that we know today.
Coinbase’s website begins looking like the current version in 2018. As the company made some good progress with the integration of other types of crypto, 2018 was the time to adjust the website.
In addition, as seen in the image below, Coinbase was thoughtfully providing practical information regarding each crypto that it supports.
In 2018 it becomes very clear that Bitcoin is officially not a sole focus anymore.
2019 – 7th year of existence
Coinbase had both ups and downs back in 2019.
For instance, Coinbase has been doing exceptionally well in the UK, reporting a 20% growth in revenue, which reached €153 million ($173 million) and a net profit of €6.6 million.
However, as Coinbase was becoming more-known and more profitable every day, its safety became a target.
To be more precise, it all started with the acquisition of a blockchain intelligence platform called Neutrino in the same year. This even caused whispers and suspicion among Coinbase users, as Neutrino was known to be mingling with the Hacking Team, which at the time wasn’t considered trustworthy due to its all-revealing internet surveillance technology that was sold to governments.
Naturally, the CEO Brian Armstrong broke all ties with Neutrino.
Neutrino, however, wasn’t the only concern that Coinbase had to face in 2019.
Thankfully, all is well that ends well. Coinbase was able to intervene and stop the attack from happening, so no harm or losses were accomplished by the attacker.
2020 – 8th year of existence
Welcome to 2020, the year when everything we thought we knew changed. The year, when many companies had to work harder than before to prove their relevance. Coinbase, of course, was no exception.
For Coinbase, however, this was more about personal beliefs and opinions inside the company, rather than COVID-19.
More specifically, after the tragic events of police brutality in the US, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong refused to express his stance on the topic of Black Lives Matter, claiming that his company wishes to focus on its mission rather than social activism.
Armstrong’s response caused dissatisfaction among many of Coinbase’s employees.
The harsh criticism encouraged Armstrong to publish a blog post, where he explains that he doesn’t wish to divide people inside his company due to different opinions and beliefs, as this could lead to a downfall of the company. The blog post strongly highlights that Coinbase is a mission-focused company, where everyone shares the same goal of succeeding in their mission, rather than being divided by individual opinions.
Armstrong did, however, encourage the employees of Coinbase who face unfair treatment in the company to speak up.
2021 – 9th year of existence
We finally caught up to the present and as you can see, Coinbase is still around, still growing.
Since we’re not far ahead in the year, there’s only so much we can report on Coinbase’s progress, but something is worth mentioning.
After 2020, many surviving companies have transformed in one way or another, and this included Coinbase.
As you might remember from the very beginning of this article, we mentioned that the company’s headquarters are in California, the U.S. Just a month ago, on the 24th of February, the CEO of Coinbase has spoken again in a blog post.
This time, Armstrong wanted to share that he doesn’t consider Coinbase to be based in San Francisco anymore, as 50% of the employees are working remotely.
The CEO also claims that being a remote-first-company has taught him that not only remote work turned out to be a success at Coinbase but that the company was able to attract top talent from other states of America too.
The image below shows the current and for now the final shape of the Coinbase website.
Compared to the website from 2018, the change isn’t significant. The most obvious changes appear to be in new color domination tactics and more spotlight for crypto without mixing in other information just yet.
To sum up how was Coinbase developed
Seeing the leaders of the industry grow from an idea into reality is really something, isn’t it?
Coinbase, as we know it now, is the undeniable leader of the digital currency exchange niche and it didn’t happen overnight. In this case, we can see that Brian Armstrong indirectly began the path of Coinbase when he was driven by curiosity and armed with a challenge that he identified.
The rest is history now, but the history of Coinbase shouldn’t be forgotten because it teaches about successful business practices as well as challenges that test a company’s strength.
Despite Coinbase being a relatively young company, the pace of its growth was astonishing and demonstrates what people can achieve when they follow their passion.
We look forward to observing Coinbase’s next steps and endeavors. We also hope that you found this article interesting and useful!
If you liked this one, you may also enjoy our other “How was it developed” articles!
See More Articles