A Biography Of Crypto Billionaire Brian Armstrong

Co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world, Brian Armstrong was born in San Jose, California, in the year 1983. His journey from being a software engineer to a visionary entrepreneur who revolutionized the industry is a remarkable and inspiring one.

This article intends to give you a glimpse into his early life, unparalleled achievements, and the growth trajectory of Coinbase, the dream he realized.

Academic background

Armstrong earned his high school diploma from Bellarmine College Preparatory, a Catholic, private school. Later, he joined Rice University, Texas, where he studied Computer Science and Economics and earned a dual degree in 2005. A year later, he completed his Master’s degree in Computer Science from the same institution.

During this period, he ventured into entrepreneurship with UniversityTutor.com, an online platform that matched instructors with students, which continued to be his full-time job for years.

While at Rice, he also interned for IBM and later joined Deloitte & Touche and worked in enterprise risk management.


UniversityTutor.com, the first business venture Armstrong launched in 2003 was a kind of virtual schooling system that connected not only the students and tutors but also parents all over the world.

Armstrong remained in the CEO position until 2012, and two years later, in 2014, Johnson Educational Technologies LLC acquired the company. 

As part of democratizing cryptocurrency and promoting financial inclusion, Armstrong co-founded GiveCrypto, a platform specifically designed to provide tokens to the underprivileged sections of society.

Apart from working as a consultant at Deloitte, he also hustled as a software engineer at Airbnb, alongside his entrepreneurship.

The exposure these side hustles offered put things in better perspective and sharpened his entrepreneurial skills, paving the way for his biggest-ever venture in the future. The same year he stepped down as the CEO of UniversityTutor.com, he entered Y Combinator, a US-based startup accelerator firm, and obtained $150k as an investment, which turned out to be the initial funding of Coinbase.


Initially, Ben Reeves, the co-founder of Blockchain.com, expressed his interest in being a founding member of Coinbase. A difference in opinion regarding the functioning of Coinbase Wallet led to their breakup days before receiving the Y Combinator incubator funding.

Armstrong had to hold over fifty meetings to find the perfect partner with whom he could launch his latest venture, as demanded by Y Combinator. Finally, he met Fred Ehrsam, a former Goldman Sachs trader on a Reddit subgroup, after his post explaining his mission and looking for a co-founder, went viral on the platform.

Both of them were optimistic about the future of Bitcoin as well as the entire crypto industry, and this is what brought them together, apart from the knowledge they shared on the subject.

Armstrong co-founded Coinbase in October 2012, with basic services for buying and selling Bitcoin using bank transfers. It was introduced as an efficient and reliable platform for traders and investors to exchange tokens including the most popular one of them, Bitcoin.

Armstrong was appointed as the CEO while Ehrsam served as the President of Coinbase until he left the company in 2017. Coinbase was valued at $8.1 billion in 2018, which rose to $85 billion after the company went public through direct listing in 2021.

Both Ehrsam and Armstrong became billionaires, and as of March 2024, Armstrong has a net worth of $11.1 billion.

Achievements & Recognitions

Five years since the commencement of Coinbase, in 2017, Armstrong made it to the 40 under 40 list of Forbes magazine. He was 34 years old at the time and was ranked 10, right behind John Zimmer and Daniel Schwartz. Later on, in 2019, he entered Time Magazine’s 100 Next list which recognized 100 rising stars who are shaping the future of the world. 

Two years later, in 2021, Armstrong secured the first position in the Forbes Crypto Rich list, with a whopping $6.5 billion net worth. He also made it to the 60th position on another Forbes list that ranked 400 richest people in America.

Brian Armstrong is a visionary leader and self-made billionaire who believed in something that didn’t appear promising enough more than a decade ago and dared to make it his passion and career.

His move transformed the crypto industry as well as the way people access the currency, bringing it to the mainstream financial landscape. 

But Armstrong is much more than a crypto legend; he is a philanthropist who founded GiveCrypto, the platform that extends financial help to people in need through cryptocurrency. He also signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate the bulk of his wealth to charitable causes.

Furthermore, he was part of the Black Lives Matter movement and is known for banning workplace activism and politics, calling Coinbase a ‘mission-focused company’. His journey serves as an inspiration to entrepreneurs around the world, as he still explores the dynamics of the ever-evolving industry.

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