Brian Armstrong is a billionaire crypto entrepreneur and co-founder of the popular cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase Global. He’s among the biggest proponents of digital assets and one of the richest people in the cryptocurrency world. In 2024, Brian Armstrong’s net worth is estimated to be $12 billion.

Let’s explore his career, learn more about his net worth, and get into his life story to see what insights we can learn from Armstrong, who steered Coinbase Global to survive the industry slump and controversies much better than its peers.

Brian Armstrong Net Worth Breakdown:

Since most of Brian Armstrong’s wealth derives from his stake in Coinbase, a public company that he co-founded, his net worth is relatively easy to estimate. He holds around 19% stake in the company, valued at around $11 billion.

He gets a base salary of $1 million from Coinbase. However, his total compensation in 2022 was $7.5 million, but a whopping $6.3 million went directly towards security services. While CEOs of other leading companies also get the benefit, the amount is incredibly large in Armstrong’s case. However, given the fact that the cryptocurrency industry is infested with hackers and criminals (alongside many other legitimate members who believe in digital currencies), the amount might be justified.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Coinbase Global stake $11 billion
Coinbase annual salary $1 million
Real estate $200 million
Other investments $800 million
Total Net Worth $12 billion

Brain Armstrong Net Worth: Early Life of the Crypto Mogul

Brian Armstrong was born to engineer parents on January 25, 1983, in San Jose, California, and went to Bellarmine College Preparatory. Armstrong attended Rice University in Texas and received a dual Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Computer Science. In 2006, he earned his Master’s in Computer Science from Rice University.

brian armstrong childhood

Armstrong worked as an intern team lead at IBM between June and September 2003. He was a consultant in enterprise risk management at Deloitte between July 2005 to November 2005. Later, Armstrong worked as a technical product manager with Airbnb between May 2011 to June 2012.

Armstrong’s turn to entrepreneurship began in August 2003 when he founded UniversityTutor.com, claiming to be the world’s largest global marketplace for independent tutors. He was the company’s CEO until May 2012.

Brian Armstrong Net Worth: Discovering Cryptocurrencies

The story of how Armstrong got into cryptocurrencies started over a decade ago. His first exposure to cryptos was when he discovered Satoshi Nakamoto’s famed Bitcoin whitepaper at home on Thanksgiving.

“As I read it, I realized that crypto had the power to unlock a future where economic freedom was a reality for everyone,” said Armstrong.

He termed it, “One of the biggest meta problems of our time”. According to Armstrong, he “started coding an early prototype of Coinbase on nights and weekends and began attending early Bitcoin meetups around the Bay Area.”

Coinbase was initially called Bitbank but changed the name considering the legal implications of using the term “bank” associated with a cryptocurrency trading platform.

Co-founding Coinbase

Armstrong entered the Y Combinator startup accelerator and received a $150,000 investment which he used to confound Coinbase Global in June 2012. To proceed further, Armstrong needed a co-founder in a short span of three days. He posted on Hacker News for a co-founder, and his post went viral, including on a Bitcoin subreddit where he eventually happened to meet Fred Ehrsam, a Goldman Sachs trader, who joined as a co-founder.

In a Twitter (now X) post, Armstrong highlighted how incredibly important that $150,000 investment was for Coinbase as it allowed him to quit his software engineer job at Airbnb to build the company.

Ehrsam exited the company in 2017 and founded a cryptocurrency firm named Paradigm in 2018. Late last year, he stepped down as Paradigm’s managing partner and transitioned to the role of general partner. He still holds around 3.5% stake in Coinbase which is valued at around $2 billion.

Cryptocurrency Evangelism

Armstrong bet on cryptocurrencies when it was still a nascent asset class and Bitcoin was trading at around $2. It wasn’t an easy journey – many thought building a cryptocurrency exchange wasn’t the brightest of ideas. Coinbase was bootstrapped in the initial days and operated from a shared apartment in San Francisco. According to Armstrong:

We had early employees working in the laundry room, in the bathroom and the hallways. Some even camped out on the roof.

Coinbase’s 2021 IPO

Coinbase went public through a direct listing in April 2021 at a reference price of $250. The company commanded a market cap of $100 billion on its very first trading day. The stock plummeted in 2022 but has risen over fourfold over the last year, thanks to the rally in digital assets.

coinbase price chart
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In May 2023, Armstrong and Coinbase investor Mark Andreessen were accused of insider trading around the time of the IPO. The accusations allege that the pair and other insiders used their knowledge to trade and after $2.9 billion was initially raised, the market value plummeted by over $1 billion within five weeks. The case is still outstanding.

The SEC is also investigating Coinbase in a dispute as to whether the coins traded on the platform are securities. This would be a major problem if it is confirmed in the courts because selling unregistered securities is illegal in the US. The week prior to the SEC investigation, three former employees of Coinbase were also charged by the DoJ and SEC for insider trading.

Brian Armstrong Net Worth: Real Estate and Other Investments

In 2022, Armstrong bought an estate in Los Angeles from Japanese entrepreneur Hideki Tomita for $133 million. Armstrong also owns another home in San Francisco.

 

brian armstrong home
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NewLimit

Armstrong has been an early backer of the biotech company NewLimit, which completed its Series A funding round in May 2023. Investors in that round included Founders Fund and Armstrong’s Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam. NewLimit is researching how to use epigenetics to stave off aging.

NewLimit and ResearchHub

In 2022, Brian Armstrong Tweeted that he intended to sell 2% of his stake in Coinbase in order to fund other projects, such as NewLimit and Research Hub. He sold 790,000 Coinbase shares which cashed in around $53.2 million and has apparently ploughed it into new ventures.

Armstrong co-founded biotech company NewLimit, which completed its Series A funding round in May 2023. Investors in that round included Founders Fund and Armstrong’s Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam. NewLimit is researching how to use epigenetics to stave off aging. For whatever reason, many crypto moguls and entrepreneurs like Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, are very interested in the field of anti-aging.

He also co-founded ResearchHub, which completed a $5 million Series A round in 2023. The site allows scientists to earn Research Coins (RSC) for adding research to the scientific community, with other members deciding the value of studies posted on the site.

Brian Armstrong’s Philanthropy and the Giving Pledge

Brian Armstrong has donated to charities and in 2018, he signed the Giving Pledge, a program founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Its signatories – currently over 240 – have committed to donating the bulk of their wealth within their lifetime.

Those signed up to the pledge are spread across 29 countries including billionaires like Ray Dalio, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and Anil Agarwal.

Coinbase also started GiveCrypto.org to make it easier for people to donate to charity in cryptocurrencies. However, in December 2023, the company discontinued the initiative and said that it would donate all GiveCrypto funds to Brink and GiveDirectly.

What Can We Learn from Brian Armstrong’s Life

There is a lot to learn from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, the man who created one of the largest and most respected cryptocurrency exchanges. He dared to bet on the asset class at a time when digital assets were ridiculed by most. However, through his conviction and perseverance, Armstrong managed to make Coinbase a hugely successful company (and himself extremely rich).

To his credit, Coinbase has had far fewer regulatory issues compared to other cryptocurrency trading platforms. In a podcast with Tyler Cowen, Armstrong said, “The thing that we did early on was that we decided we were going to be reaching out proactively to regulators, not waiting for them to come to us.” He added that it is a “cultural thing” at Coinbase and the company.

He isn’t afraid of taking risks where he sees potential rewards. From quitting a stable job at Airbnb to hit out on his own, to selling his Coinbase shares to invest in improving health and science research, he knows when it’s time to put money into new ventures.