Serena Williams’ VC firm quietly removed Coinbase from its website

  • Serena Williams invested in Coinbase in 2018 through her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures. But the cryptocurrency startup is no longer included on the investments page of the firm’s website.
  • Coinbase is entangled in controversy after CEO Brian Armstrong wrote a memo telling employees to leave their politics and social causes at the door. At least 60 employees have quit in the aftermath.
  • It’s possible that Serena Ventures has divested her stake in Coinbase, and that’s why it pulled the startup from its website. The VC firm did not respond to a request for comment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Serena Williams is keen on investing in startups changing the world for the better.

That strategy explains her earlier investment in Coinbase, a company on a mission to “bring economic freedom to people all over” through an app that allows casual consumers to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

But a battle at Coinbase on the role of employee activism at work may have her tiptoeing away from the startup.

Serena Ventures, the investment firm started by Williams, has quietly removed Coinbase from the investments page on its website, even though it backed the cryptocurrency startup that’s now entangled in political controversy.

In September, Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong publicly posted a memo describing how the company should take a hands-off approach to politics and social causes, and instead stay focused on the company mission. The directive was viewed by some as a “cultural reset” after employees pressured the startup to issue a statement on the Black Lives Matter movement in June, and the company’s stonewalling led some to quit and others to do a virtual walkout.

serena ventures old investments page

The Serena Ventures website included Coinbase on its investments page as recently as July 2020.

The Wayback Machine/Serena Ventures


serena ventures investments

A screenshot

Chamath Palihapitiya responds to Coinbase controversy: Get a soapbox

  • Well-known venture investor Chamath Palihapitiya said on his “All-In” podcast that employees should be able to have free-form debate on any topic, on one condition — they should have to speak from a physical soapbox.
  • The investor was responding to the Coinbase controversy where Brian Armstrong told employees in a memo last week that politics and social causes had no place at the company.
  • “You put the soapbox someplace — in a safe space — where you can go and you can talk and people who want to listen will listen, and people who need to work can work, and people who don’t want to listen don’t have to be forced to listen,” Palihapitiya said on the podcast.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The head of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, created a firestorm in tech last week when he told employees in a memo to leave their politics and social causes at the door. Social causes were a “distraction” from the company’s mission, he wrote, and he later told employees that anyone not on board with this apolitical policy would be offered severance.

Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya has a suggestion for founders like Armstrong running companies in these divisive times.

Put a literal soapbox in the office.

That’s what the founder of Social Capital said on his podcast, “All In,” on Friday. Palihapitiya, perhaps best known for his investment in Slack, said companies would be better served having their employees express their ideas in a designated space on campus, where people who want to participate in the discourse are able to and those who want to focus on work can tune it out.

He said companies should “allow 100% free-form debate about anything.”

But, he suggested imposing “one condition. You literally need to have a soapbox and like in

Coinbase and Clubhouse aside, Ethel’s Club founder wants to take us ‘Somewhere Good’

Welcome back to Human Capital, a weekly digest about diversity, inclusion and the human labor that powers tech.

This week, we’re looking at a number of topics because a lot went down. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong took a controversial stance on social, Clubhouse found itself under scrutiny again, but this time around anti-Semitism and a new site launched that sheds light on some of the negative experiences of underrepresented people in tech. Meanwhile, the founder from Ethel’s Club unveiled Somewhere Good, which aims to provide a safe social platform for people of color. The timing couldn’t be better.

Human Capital launches as a newsletter on Friday, October 23. Be sure to sign up here to get it sent straight to your inbox. 

Stay Woke

Coinbase CEO’s stance on societal issues stirs up controversy 

Over the weekend, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said the company does not engage on border societal issues when they are not related to its core mission. On political causes, Armstrong said Coinbase also does not advocate for any causes or candidates that are not related to its mission “because it is a distraction from our mission.” In that Medium post, Armstrong recognized that some employees may disagree and even resign. 

A couple of days later, Armstrong began offering employees who don’t feel comfortable with the direction of the company a severance package, The Block Crypto reported

“It’s always sad when we see teammates go, but it can also be what is best for them and the company,” Armstrong wrote in an internal memo. “As I said in my blog post, life is too short to work a company that you aren’t excited about.”

It’s quite a statement to make just weeks away from a very important presidential election. But Armstrong’s justification seems to be that he

Coinbase Workers Rattled by Politics Ban and Fear Being Muzzled

(Bloomberg) — Coinbase Inc.’s clampdown on discussing politics and activism at work — and the offer of severance packages to employees who don’t want to comply — continues to ripple through the cryptocurrency exchange and Silicon Valley.



a group of people standing in a living room: Inside the Coinbase Inc. office in San Francisco, California, U.S., in 2017.


© Bloomberg
Inside the Coinbase Inc. office in San Francisco, California, U.S., in 2017.

Many employees were shocked by Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong’s blog post imposing the rules Sunday, and some are concerned that he is trying to stymie discourse that should be happening, according to two people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. Neither knew of anyone taking an exit package from the San Francisco-based company, but employees have until Oct. 7 to apply.

Loading...

Load Error

Jack Dorsey, Twitter Inc.’s CEO and a noted Bitcoin advocate, criticized Armstrong’s ban on politics, saying late Wednesday the change runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrencies. Other veterans of the digital-asset industry suggested Armstrong’s stance represents a broader shift taking place in a sector that was founded by computer hackers and libertarian-leaning programmers.

Twitter’s former CEO, Dick Costolo, also weighed in, tweeting that “me-first capitalists who think you can separate society from business are going to be the first people lined up against the wall and shot in the revolution.”

Read more: Coinbase’s no-politics stance rankles Silicon Valley

The polarizing 2020 campaign, epitomized by the chaotic debate this week between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, has left many companies struggling with how to stay above the fray. But the cryptocurrency industry, built on iconoclastic ideas, faces its own challenges.

“This is highlighting an evolution in crypto culture,” said Adam Draper, a venture capitalist who was an early investor in Coinbase. “Crypto is about the innovation in finance and connecting the world’s financial infrastructure. The culture of

Coinbase and Silicon Valley’s Losing War Against Politics

Illustration for article titled Silicon Valley Is Fighting a Losing War Against Politics

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair (Getty Images)

You’d be excused for not following the recent brouhaha associated with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s announcement that the company would no longer play politics. The statement, posted to Medium on Sunday, is a doozy.

“In short, I want Coinbase to be laser focused on achieving its mission, because I believe that this is the way that we can have the biggest impact on the world. We will do this by playing as a championship team, focus on building, and being transparent about what our mission is and isn’t,” Armstrong wrote.

He rattled off a number of examples of this, culminating in something that gave many pause: “We don’t engage here when issues are unrelated to our core mission, because we believe impact only comes with focus.”

Armstrong’s post is a direct reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, the pandemic, the election, and the civil unrest that has become a focal point in a extraordinarily tumultuous year. In June, Coinbase employees clamored for Armstrong to vocally support BLM, which he finally did on Twitter. The reaction from so-called CryptoTwitter, a loose association of weirdos and anti-goldbugs who basically pump and dump tokens all day, was swift and angry.

“I want to say unequivocally fuck coinbase,” wrote one “trader.”

Armstrong, for his part, tapped into a growing movement inside Silicon Valley, a movement that basically says, “Fuck your feelings.” Based on his statement on Medium, Armstrong believes, probably incorrectly, that his army of coders wants nothing more than to produce clean, usable products for the cryptocurrency community.

There are three types of crypto users who love Armstrong’s argument. In order of odiousness, we begin with the bored coder who once