Coinbase sees 5% of employees depart in wake of politics controversy
The cryptocurrency giant Coinbase has been in a media firestorm since its outspoken CEO Brian Armstrong published a blog post two weeks ago exhorting employees to refrain from politics in the workplace. The post, which appears to have been touched off by an employee walkout over the company’s stance on Black Lives Matter, also invited workers to take an exit package if they disagreed with Armstrong’s position.
On Thursday, Armstrong published a follow-up post that clarified his position, and which disclosed the number of employees who decided to depart.
The new post states that about 60 employees have accepted the exit package, which provided paid severance of four to six months. That figure amounts to about 5% of the company’s workforce, says Armstrong, who added that the final number could be slightly higher in light of ongoing negotiations with some workers.
Armstrong also stated that, contrary to fears of some Coinbase employees, the departures did not include a disproportionate number of people of color.
“It was reassuring to see that people from under-represented groups at Coinbase have not taken the exit package in numbers disproportionate to the overall population,” said the blog post.
Armstrong’s latest missive comes two weeks after his original blog post provided fodder for an ongoing culture war in Silicon Valley that has pitted those who say that companies must do more to promote social justice against those who say such discussions have become a distraction from companies’ core missions.
Armstrong’s original post declared that politics had become a “distraction” at Coinbase—a position that is perhaps ironic given how the post has produced a torrent of media coverage, and criticism from other executives, including Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.
Follow-up reports to the original blog post by Wired, The Block and other publications recounted how a Black Lives Matter protest in August provided an impetus for Armstrong to issue the new directive about avoiding politics—a directive that many, including Fortune writers Robert Hackett and David Morris, have suggested is impractical.
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