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7 people with power at Coinbase

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Coinbase launched in 2012 as a one-man startup with the goal of bringing crypto into the mainstream. It has since grown into a Fortune 500 company, pulling in billions of revenue and serving as the flagship brand for the industry. Today, Coinbase is still very much controlled by one man: CEO Brian Armstrong, who retains a majority of the company’s voting shares, and who is the unquestioned leader when it comes to strategic direction. But Armstrong does not act alone.

In the last few years, Coinbase’s leadership team has been more stable than ever before, helping the company push forward during the recent Crypto Winter and amid unprecedented regulatory challenges. Like many Silicon Valley firms, engineers enjoy special status at Coinbase, making it a challenge for those who don’t build things to win Armstrong’s attention and respect. Nonetheless, as the list below reveals, the seven people who command the most power at Coinbase come from all corners of the company.

This list, which was inspired by a similar title from five years ago, is based on Coinbase’s official org chart but also from over a decade of reporting on the company and from interviews with multiple people close to the C-suite.

Chief Operating Officer Emilie Choi

Coinbase President and COO Emilie Choi.

Courtesy of Coinbase

Choi made her name in the corporate world as a longtime executive at LinkedIn and, after arriving at Coinbase in 2018, was quick to put her stamp on the company by overseeing dozens of acquisitions. She is a divisive figure among staff and other execs who fear her as a ruthless operator who has racked up a “body count” of former employees. But no one doubts her influence. Choi is a party to all major decisions at the company and has the ear of Armstrong, who trusts and confides in her.

Chief Financial Officer Alesia Haas

Coinbase CFO Alesia Haas.

Courtesy of Coinbase

Haas is Armstrong’s other top lieutenant and is a more reserved figure widely respected for her steady competence. A former banker who joined Coinbase in 2018, she guided the company through its IPO—which made her and other top senior executives incredibly rich—and has also blazed a trail by defining what it means to be chief financial officer at a crypto firm, a role that’s similar but also very different from a CFO’s at a traditional firm. She likewise enjoys Armstrong’s trust and confidence.

Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal

Coinbase Head of Legal Paul Grewal.

Courtesy of Coinbase

Grewal is a social media savvy one-time federal judge who, prior to joining Coinbase, helped Facebook navigate the legal fallout from various privacy scandals. His wealth of experience has proved invaluable at Coinbase where he arrived in 2020 just as the SEC and other regulators began a scorched-earth campaign against the crypto industry. A tireless executive who regularly crisscrosses the country, Grewal is overseeing high stakes lawsuits between Coinbase and the Securities and Exchange Commission that some predict will land at the Supreme Court—and help deliver clear rules for the crypto industry.

VP and Head of Consumer Products Max Branzburg

Coinbase Head of Consumer Products Max Branzburg.

Courtesy of Coinbase

Branzburg arrived at Coinbase in 2018 as a “classic Google guy” but not a crypto native. Nonetheless, he quickly established himself as a formidable product executive whom people at the company credit for making its retail platform, which was once infamous for crashing, run smoothly. Branzburg also enjoys a reputation as a deft political operator who has the ear of both Armstrong and Choi.

Head of Institutional Product Greg Tusar

Coinbase Head of Institutional Finance Greg Tusar.

Courtesy of Coinbase

Tusar joined Coinbase in 2020 after decades of experience in the financial sector, including a 13-year-stint at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner. He is regarded as “the brains behind futures”—the new derivatives platform that’s already proved lucrative for Coinbase, and which is integral to the company’s longtime need to diversify beyond retail-based revenue sources. Tusar’s stock is likely to rise further as the crypto industry builds closer ties with Wall Street.

VP of Corporate and Business Development Shan Aggarwal

Coinbase Head of Corporate and Business Development Shan Aggarwal.

Courtesy of Coinbase

A Coinbase executive who has flown below the radar, Aggarwal is describe by colleagues as someone who is well-liked and who punches above his weight. He joined the company from the venerable VC firm Greycroft, which provided valuable experience for his current role helping to manage partnerships, M&A, and Coinbase Ventures. Aggarwal, who was also instrumental in steering the company through the IPO process, is someone poised to rise further.

Base Engineer Jesse Pollak

Coinbase engineer Jesse Pollak.

Courtesy of Coinbase

Pollak lacks an executive title but enjoys considerable soft power at Coinbase thanks to his deep knowledge of crypto and for helping to launch the Base blockchain, one of crypto’s most successful products in recent memory. He’s appeared alongside Armstrong at recent events and has a huge following among the crypto grassroots. Pollak is a slightly awkward crypto native who cares about product above all else—qualities that could also describe the CEO during Coinbase’s early years.

Honorable mentions

Other names that came up repeatedly in the course of research for this story include: Head of Institutional Brett Tejpaul, who clinched key partnerships with the issuers of the new Bitcoin ETFs; Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch, who is praised by her colleagues for creativity on a tight budget and for overachieving in a company where the value of PR and marketing are often discounted; and Chief Policy Officer Faryar Shirzad, whose knowledge of Washington, D.C., has proved critical in helping Coinbase build political clout.



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