Coinbase hit $1 billion in annual revenue as this year’s bitcoin mania sent the popular digital coin surging up to almost $20,000, before it came back down. With over 10 million customers on the platform, Coinbase is far and away the most popular exchange in the US. And investors have noticed, giving the six-year-old startup $100 million in capital at a $1.6 billion valuation in a funding round last August.
However, popularity comes at a price, and Coinbase has had a difficult time scaling from a niche product to a real, sustainable business. It was under these difficult circumstances that Dan Romero, a four-year veteran of Coinbase, took on the role of general manager and vice president of the company in January of this year.
Romero, who previously ran the startup’s business development, is now in charge of growing and scaling both the engineering and product side of Coinbase, as well as its internal operations.
In a recent interview with Business Insider Romero said:
“the overall customer experience, that’s what I wake up every day and focus on,”
Romero downplayed a recent Recode report that the company was hiring a CFO to go public — but didn’t deny it, either. In a bigger-picture sense, Romero says that Coinbase is trying to build a company that could do for cryptocurrency what Google did for search.
“We are hiring a bunch of different executives at the company. It’s part of the scaling effort. We have a CFO right now. We may or may not be looking for a CFO. But I think the broader story here is that we’re trying to scale the company because we’re looking to build a lasting company in the space.”
In response to a question about SegWit and overall development of Bitcoin protocols Romero said:
“We are actually trying to increase the amount of contributions we’re making at the core protocol level. We have a significant amount of talent that we’re trying to hire for, for engineers that would only be working on protocols. So no direct benefit to Coinbase, they would be doing open source development on protocols like bitcoin and ethereum.”
“We have an engineer right now who’s working on the Lightning Network. We view this as both beneficial to Coinbase in the long-term because it makes digital currencies more scalable and more accessible for more people. But at the same time, it’s us giving back. Because we’re obviously a business that benefits from the open source protocols that exist.”
When pressed about the delay in implementing SegWit he had this to say:
“If you look at social media over the last couple of months you have a lot of feedback saying, “Why hasn’t Coinbase implemented SegWit? It took this team two days to update this product. Why can’t Coinbase, with all the money and engineers they have, do it in just as quick of a time?”
It’s a little underestimating the scale that we’re operating at.
We’re holding billions of dollars in customer digital currency. Any change we make to that core business structure has to be thoroughly tested both from the implementation, to make sure it’s working, standpoint, but also some serious security considerations.
We’re a very much a measure twice, cut once culture — and in some cases maybe it’s measure three times and cut once.”