Brad Garlinghouse Disagrees With Coinbase’s Zero Politics Stance

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In Brief
  • Ripple founder Brad Garlinghouse has revealed his opposition to the “no politics at work” stance recently adopted by Coinbase.

  • Garlinghouse says he believes that tech companies have “an obligation” to be part of the solution to societal issues.

  • Ripple is offering its employees paid time off to vote and volunteer in the Nov 3 U.S. presidential election.

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Ripple founder Brad Garlinghouse has voiced his opposition to the non-political workplace stance announced by Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong in September.

Speaking to CNBC on Oct 26, Garlinghouse stated that he believes that tech companies have an “obligation” to be part of the solution to social issues.

On Sep 27, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong published a highly polarizing blog post stating that Coinbase is a “mission-focused” company that will not emphasize or engage in social activism or political discussions in the workplace. 

The Great Coinbase Debate

BeinCrypto reported on Sep 29 that Coinbase banned all overt political activity in its workplace, stating its desire to be a company that focuses only on making good products and being profitable. Mixed reactions greeted the announcement, varying from enthusiastic agreement to angry condemnation.

 

Garlinghouse has become the latest high profile Silicon Valley figure to voice his opposition to the stance adopted by Coinbase. Garlinghouse told CNBC that he doesn’t agree with that position.

An excerpt from the interview reads as follows:

“We think about our mission as enabling an internet of value but we seek positive outcomes for society. I think tech companies have an opportunity — but actually an obligation — to lean into being part of the solution. The sad reality is — and I say this as a long-time veteran of Silicon Valley — some of these (societal) problems are, at a minimum, exacerbated by the tech platforms themselves.”

Head to Head

Shortly after Armstrong’s initial blog post was published, the company offered a severance package to employees who wished to leave due to the new policy.

The package included four months worth of pay for employees who had been with the company for up to three years and six months of pay for those who had been at Coinbase longer than three years.

It also gave these employees six months of health insurance through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). CNBC reports that roughly 5% of the company’s total workforce took this offer and exited. Armstrong reportedly claimed this as a victory for the “silent majority” within the firm.

Ripple on the other hand, is known to operate from the other end of the corporate political engagement spectrum. According to CNBC, the company actively promotes corporate activism in line with the thoughts expressed by Garlinghouse. 

Among other things, Ripple is offering its employees paid time off to vote and volunteer in the upcoming Nov 3 U.S presidential election.

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David is a journalist, writer and broadcaster whose work has appeared on CNN, The Africa Report, The New Yorker Magazine and The Washington Post. His work as a satirist on 'The Other News,' Nigeria's answer to The Daily Show has featured in the New Yorker Magazine and in the Netflix documentary 'Larry Charles' Dangerous World of Comedy.' In 2018, he was nominated by the US State Department for the 2019 Edward Murrow program for journalists under the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). He tweets at @DavidHundeyin

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