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Coinbase doubles down on anti-politics stance, offers generous severance package

Politics continues to bleed into the business world, resulting in major companies taking stances on social issues. However, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told employees the company would offer severance packages for those who leave after he discouraged employee activism and political discussions at work. Yahoo Finance's Dan Roberts joins The Final Round panel to discuss.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: Today, we've got bitcoin off about 1%, trading above $10,000-- $10,600 right now at about 3 o'clock Eastern time. But really, the story in the crypto space this week has been what's happening over at Coinbase. The company's CEO publishing a memo over the weekend, outlining the company's new set of values. And then, the company making an offer to employees that if they didn't like what Brian Armstrong said in that medium post, they can hit the road.

Dan Roberts, really a fascinating story to play out. I guess on the culture of bitcoin continuing to redefine itself, I thought about this in the context of Palantir going public this week. I mean, how are you kind of making sense of this this?

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, Myles, I view the Coinbase memo as really a symptom of the larger Silicon Valley crisis right now. There is a reckoning-- a political crisis happening with all these companies. They're wondering, should we stand for something? Should we take a stance?

And boy, we have talked to death in the last four years about how political corporate America has become and how so many brands have been pushed into politics, sometimes not by choice. And so as a result, many brands have chosen proactively to come out and take a stance on social issues, on racial justice.

Brian Armstrong's memo basically said, we're never going to do that. We want to be apolitical. And the term he kept using-- the euphemism was "mission driven" Well, what is their mission? Coinbase says, our mission is to build cryptocurrency products.

But that really is-- the key meaning there is they want to make money. It's naked capitalism. And that's OK. There's nothing wrong with that. Coinbase's mission is to make money. The company wants to be the Goldman Sachs of cryptocurrency. It is expected in the next couple of years to go public. I'm sure it will be a big, much-hyped IPO.

But at this time, a lot of employees did not like that memo. And clearly, the company is having an internal crisis. And so a few days after the memo, Brian Armstrong sent out, here's our exit package. We're willing to offer you if you want to leave. That's OK if you don't like our mission and you don't like our stance right now.

But it is, to me, symptomatic of what lots of Silicon Valley companies are going through. Palantir's a good example. And in many ways, Brian Armstrong, in this memo, comes off a lot like Mark Zuckerberg, which right now is not really a great thing.

MYLES UDLAND: It's not great, but at the same time, he didn't wait until his company had four billion users, or three billion users, or whatever, to then decide maybe there are some consequences with the platform. So again, I think certainly a culture story, as you note correctly, that is going to play out-- has been playing out in the Valley and will, I think, as remote work and all these things that COVID has accelerated continue in the years ahead.

All right, coming up on the other side of this break, we're going to have the closing bell live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. We're back with that in just two minutes.

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