Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong Rounds Up the Decade in Crypto


Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong published a Medium post on Jan. 2 sharing his thoughts on how the crypto space has progressed over the last ten years.

Armstrong’s post, inspired by Fred Wilson’s article on technology over the past decade, begins with Bitcoin. Armstrong noted that the leading cryptocurrency hasn’t failed once in its birth ten-year history. Despite any doubt about Bitcoin’s survival, Armstrong pointed out that the digital currency has actually thrived.

“There were over 379 articles written, prematurely declaring the end of Bitcoin. Not only did Bitcoin survive, it thrived, becoming the top performing asset of the decade. The naysayers were proved wrong and we learned an important lesson about human nature: most big breakthroughs are contrarian ideas that people dismiss and ridicule at the start.”


Armstrong also took the opportunity to mention that his cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has also succeeded over the past decade, despite many thinking it wouldn’t. He wrote:

“When I was thinking about starting Coinbase, a few people told me I was crazy to try creating a custodial crypto wallet and exchange. The best hackers in the world were trying to break into crypto exchanges, and Mt. Gox along with many others had suffered breaches. Through a combination of luck and skill, Coinbase managed to weather the barrage of attacks, and created many novel methods of key storage which improved with every passing year.”

Since Coinbase was founded in 2012, the company has grown to operate in over 100 countries worldwide. Coinbase has also created core products to help cryptocurrency adoption and ease of use. The company created a Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX) for trading a variety of cryptocurrencies. Coinbase also offers an API for developers and merchants to build applications and accept payments in digital currencies.

He pointed out that while technology debates are common, there is a strong sense of emotion associated with digital currencies and blockchains. Armstrong wrote:

“I believe what made this more vitriolic than other technology debates I’ve seen (emacs vs vim, iOS vs Android, etc) is that once people own a particular coin they have an inherent conflict of interest and emotions take over.” 


While this may be the case, Armstrong pointed out that strong emotions have helped advance the crypto and blockchain space, resulting in more than just one currency or blockchain taking lead.

He goes into much more detail on his Medium post, but Armstrong’s ten key takeaways are as follows:


  • Bitcoin never failed: Despite the ups and downs, Bitcoin has become the top performing digital asset of the decade
  • Coinbase didn’t fail: Over the years, Coinbase has made cryptocurrency easier to use and has created a number of core products to help drive adoption
  • Competition emerged: As new cryptocurrencies were created, and blockchain protocol changes emerged, competition in the crypto space increased, which drove innovation
  • Surviving the bubbles and crashes: Even with the bubbles and crashes that followed, the crypto industry advanced, attracting the attention of top-performing investors and companies
  • App adoption took longer than expected: As Dapps started taking off, there was little adoption until the rise of Defi this year
  • The ICO boom and bust: Many companies that did initial coin offerings failed to deliver real-world products, while sitting on piles of cash
  • Exchanges saw most value: Best business models over the last 10 years in crypto were exchanges
  • Stablecoin adoption increased: In order to solve the volatility associated with crypto, stablecoins emerged from companies like Facebook
  • Institutions grew: Crypto started off with retail investor adoption, but many institutions have since come on board
  • Regulations: Bitcoin started off being entirely unregulated – now cryptocurrency is a regulated industry



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