Companies can’t become “apolitical” overnight.
According to multiple Coinbase workers, the plan to offer a clean exit for mission-dissenting staffers has been in the works for six months. So far, at least three people in the 1,200-person firm have taken the severance package, one of these sources told CoinDesk on Friday.
In the past week, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong published a blog post discouraging politics in the office and offered a severance package for employees who disagreed with a new mission statement. According to three employees, who all spoke with CoinDesk on the condition of anonymity, Armstrong and other managers at the San Francisco-based crypto exchange said in company-wide meetings that they had been planning this move for six months.
Armstrong began to plan for the company’s new position after several Coinbase engineers closed their laptops one day over the summer after Armstrong wouldn’t say “black lives matter” externally amid social unrest over police killings of unarmed black men and women.
Armstrong recently clarified in company meetings that he could say “black lives matter” (lowercase) and admit to societal injustice but not “Black Lives Matter” (uppercase) and associate himself with the social movement for racial equity. On the day of the walkout Armstrong tweeted:
Another source familiar with the company’s inner workings said the policy was rolled out in response to polarizing political conversations happening in all-company Slack channels and other venues rather than the walkout itself.
Employees are still allowed to have political conversations in non-general channels created by employees, this source added.
One employee said Armstrong could have avoided controversy if he had communicated the company’s new direction only internally. (Employees learned of the decision a week prior to the public blog post, staffers said.)
“I think that if he was trying primarily to communicate this to employees and had…