‘I was told I don’t have the right brain’: Read the NYT’s damning report on Coinbase

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Two days ago, Coinbase did something we rarely see a company do: it gave the world a heads-up that The New York Times would soon publish “a negative story” about how “several Black employees had negative experiences at Coinbase over the last few years.”

Well, Nathaniel Popper’s NYT story is now here, and that description looks like the understatement of the week: twenty-three current and former employees went on the record to help produce a thoroughly damning report about systemic racial discrimination at the company. It includes passages like this:

One Black employee said her manager suggested in front of colleagues that she was dealing drugs and carrying a gun, trading on racist stereotypes. Another said a co-worker at a recruiting meeting broadly described Black employees as less capable.

You should read the NYT report in its entirety — but given that Coinbase is trying to downplay this as a few scattered incidents, here are a few numbers to chew on as you go in:

  • The NYT says three quarters of the company’s Black employees fled the company in late 2018 and early 2019
  • “At least” 11 of those 15 employees told HR about racism and discrimination; Coinbase says it only received three “official” reports, whatever that means
  • Two named members of Coinbase’s diversity team have left the company, one of whom resigned with the words: “Why stay and put effort into this work if it’s just tokenized into recruiting points and not actually improving the sense of belonging and psychological safety”
  • 60 additional employees took buyouts following CEO Brian Armstrong’s controversial memo about how Coinbase would not engage in workplace activism
  • One Coinbase recruiter suggested she was pushed to find staff that looked like the company’s existing white and Asian staffers, saying “I was told I don’t have the right brain for this”

This June, a number of Coinbase engineers walked out after Armstrong refused to issue a company statement in support of Black Lives Matter following George Floyd’s death. He tweeted one out from his own account later, though.

Again, you can read the full damning report at The New York Times.

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