The First Coinbase Employee Was Paid in Bitcoin for Three Years
Coinbase’s market cap topped $100 billion after its Nasdaq debut this week, but in its early days, its first employee ever cold-emailed to get the job — and was paid in bitcoin.
Olaf Carlson-Wee had written his undergraduate thesis on Bitcoin and was eager for work. In a 2016 interview for the Y Combinator blog, as reported by CNBC, he stated, “I literally cold emailed jobs@coinbase and said ‘I love bitcoin. Here’s my thesis. I’ll do any job.'”
The company was interested, Decrypt states, but Carlson-Wee needed to get through this riddle first:
One hundred students approach 100 lockers. Student 1 opens all of them, starting with locker 1. Student 2 goes down the line and closes every second locker, starting with locker 2. Student 3 changes the state of every third locker, starting with locker 3 — if it is open, it gets closed, and if it is closed, it gets opened. And so on, until all one hundred students have taken a turn changing the state of the lockers. How many lockers are open at the end?
The rest is history. Carlson-Wee was paid with a starting salary of $50,000, entirely in bitcoin, according to The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, when he started, the price of Bitcoin was roughly $13. Although it’s unclear how much Carlson-Wee currently owns, the cryptocurrency is currently trading at around $60,000.
CNBC reports that in his job interview with Coinbase, he expressed his thoughts on security being paramount. His pragmatism paid off, and he eventually became the company’s head of risk.
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