Brian Armstrong - CEO, Coinbase

Brian Armstrong

Position: CEO, Coinbase

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science; Bachelor’s Degree in Economics; Master’s Degree in Computer Science

Twitter: @brian_armstrong

GitHub: @barmstrong

Brian Armstrong is the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase. Armstrong founded the company, which has become one of the largest in the Bitcoin space, in June 2012.


Before founding Coinbase, Armstrong worked as a Software Engineer at AirBNB from 2011-2012. Previously, he founded and also worked as a software engineer at


Armstrong holds three degrees from Rice University: a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.


As the CEO of one of the largest and well-funded Bitcoin companies, Armstrong has become one of the more prominent figures in Bitcoin.

Most of the controversy surrounding Armstrong stems from his support of two fork attempts of the Bitcoin network: Bitcoin Classic and Bitcoin XT.

Bitcoin XT was the first attempt at a hard fork and Armstrong showed initial support for the software on December 26, 2015 via Twitter:

Coinbase is now running BitcoinXT (BIP101) in production as an experiment

Bitcoin XT proposed an immediate block size increase to 8 MB block which was to be doubled every two years. Armstrong and the XT developers, Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn, pushed the software as a scaling solution. Most of the technical community and Bitcoin Core developers, however, considered XT an attack on the network. Its 75% miner activation threshold was also considered low because it created potential for a fork of the network which would create two separate chains.

Since Bitcoin is a consensus network, many took issue with the fact that Armstrong supported a proposal lacking support by most Bitcoin developers and the technical community. XT fizzled out when its lead developer, Mike Hearn, announced that he’s moving away from Bitcoin development.

Bitcoin Classic was the second major hard fork proposal supported by Armstrong. He first announced support for the software on January 16 via Twitter:

please support BitcoinClassic and help us move to a world with multiple competing Bitcoin forks

Bitcoin Classic proposes a hard fork to 2MB block size once–like Bitcoin XT–75% of miners mine Classic blocks. Because 75% is far from consensus and much less than the 95% generally required for soft forks, some consider Classic a hostile attempt to fork Bitcoin and create two separate chains.

Armstrong gained support among users wishing to see an increase in the block size. Many disagree, however, and criticize his second motion of support for an intentional hardfork of Bitcoin.


On Bitcoin as reserve currency:

Many will find this crazy, but I think bitcoin could surpass the dollar as reserve currency within 10-15 years.

On Bitcoin XT:

In my view, Bitcoin XT is the best option I’ve seen so far. Not just because it has working code, but also because it has a simple implementation that is easy to understand, the block-size increases seem about right to me, and I have confidence in the people behind the project. My preference at this point would be to have Gavin step up as the final decision-maker on Bitcoin XT, and have the industry move to that solution with help from Mike Hearn, Jeff Garzik and others that wish to do so.


Coinbase Founders Live AMA

Bitcoin articles by or related to Brian Armstrong

Related people


Charlie Lee
Director of Engineering, Coinbase
Fred Ehrsam
Co-founder, Coinbase
Gavin Andresen