Coinbase has seemingly acted upon the concerns of the crypto community and has let go several members of the Neutrino team, whose employment with the firm caused an uproar on social media and a backlash against the exchange giant. The #DeleteCoinbase trend had been growing in response to the discovery that high ranking members of the Neutrino team had been part of a group called Hacking Team, with purported links to alleged human rights abusing states. In a blog posted early Tuesday, CEO Brian Armstrong announced that the affected team members would be let go because “their prior work does present a conflict with our mission.”
“Bitcoin — and crypto more generally — is about the rights of the individual and about the technological protection of civil liberties.”https://t.co/faqXmWh8z1
— Coinbase (@coinbase) March 5, 2019
Coinbase Creators of Their Own Downfall
Coinbase revealed the acquisition of Neutrino some three weeks ago, but ever since the link between some Neutrino team members and Hacking Team came to light they have been under tremendous pressure to act. A disastrous appearance by Head of Sales Christine Sandler on Cheddar to try and defend the appointment only made things worse when she revealed that Neutrino’s predecessors had sold customer data. Armstrong seems to have realized that this development left him with only two options, to fire those involved or wait for it to blow over, and he seems to have chosen the former, which he explains in the blog post:
While we looked hard at the technology and security of the Neutrino product, we did not properly evaluate everything from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company. We took some time to dig further into this over the past week, and together with the Neutrino team have come to an agreement: those who previously worked at Hacking Team (despite the fact that they have no current affiliation with Hacking Team), will transition out of Coinbase. This was not an easy decision, but their prior work does present a conflict with our mission. We are thankful to the Neutrino team for engaging with us on this outcome.
Reactions to the news were mixed. Some lauded Coinbase for listening to their customers and acting, while others felt that the action was too little too late and that Coinbase had shown themselves to be “poor shepherds of the cryptocurrency space”. Questions were also raised about the transition period, which was not stated in the blog post. This is on top of what the company planned to do about the revealed data leak, as well as why the decision to let go team members whose work presented a conflict with Coinbase’s mission was “not an easy decision”.
In many ways, it seems that in attempting to close some doors, Armstrong has opened up a corridor of new ones, and it will be interesting if he chooses to address these new concerns in the coming days.