Coinbase’s No-Politics Stance Rankles Silicon Valley Executives

Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey joined a chorus of criticism for Coinbase Inc.’s newly announced policy of not debating politics at work, saying it runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrency.

The outcry came in response to a blog post by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, who said that the company should be mission-focused and not “advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction.” Dorsey said Armstrong’s stance runs counter to the purpose of currencies like Bitcoin, which is traded on Coinbase and is itself a form of social activism.

#Bitcoin (aka “crypto”) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society,” Dorsey tweeted. To not acknowledge and connect the related social and political issues “leaves behind people,” according to the Twitter chief. The bio section of Dorsey’s Twitter profile lists only “#bitcoin,” signaling it’s a key issue for him.

Twitter’s former CEO Dick Costolo also lamented how this move will dilute the tech industry’s culture, which used to “welcome lively debate about ideas and society.”

“This isn’t great leadership. It’s the abdication of leadership,” said Costolo. “It’s the equivalent of telling your employees to “shut up and dribble.”

For Aaron White, founder and chief technology officer of software management company Blissfully Tech Inc., Armstrong’s view is an “isolationist fantasy.”