An upcoming story about Coinbase

In the spirit of transparency, we’re sharing an internal email that was sent to our employees earlier today:

Tl;dr: The New York Times is planning to publish a negative story about Coinbase at some point in the next few days online, and it will appear in print on Sunday. Given that this story may be read by your friends, family and professional contacts, we wanted to give everyone a heads-up and provide some important context.

All,

I wanted to give you a heads-up that The New York Times is planning to publish a negative story about Coinbase in the next few days. The Times has told us they plan to publish the story in print on Sunday and online sometime before that.

As many of you know, Nathaniel Popper, a reporter at The Times, has been reaching out to current and former employees for this story over the last several weeks. It’s now clear that the story will allege that several Black employees had negative experiences at Coinbase over the last few years.

Although we generally don’t alert the company to upcoming negative media stories, the Exec Team and I felt it was important to provide this heads-up (and important context) because of the story’s focus, and because it may be read by your friends, family and professional contacts. The Exec Team also met with members of the ColorBlock ERG this morning to inform them of this article and to discuss their questions and concerns.

As Brian shared with the ColorBlock ERG this morning, we don’t care what The New York Times thinks. The most important thing we care about is you, our employees, and what you think.

Context

The story will likely quote three former Coinbase employees and a former contractor by name, and include photos of some of them. (All four had left Coinbase by the end of Q2 2019.) The story also relies on information from other current and former employees, including leaked content from Slack, internal company meetings, and documents.

The story covers our efforts related to Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity; our positioning as a mission-focused company; and the discussions we had within the company this year about Black Lives Matter. However, a significant portion of the story also focuses on major changes to our Compliance and CX orgs that took place in 2018. The story will likely imply that Black employees were discriminated against during this process; this is false.

The story will also likely allege that a number of Black employees and contractors referenced in the story filed complaints with the company. In reality, only three of these people filed complaints during their time at Coinbase. All of those complaints were thoroughly investigated, one through an internal investigation and two by separate third-party investigators, all of whom found no evidence of wrongdoing and concluded the claims were unsubstantiated. We have shared this information with the reporter.

Overall, we expect the story will paint an inaccurate picture that lacks complete information and context, despite our best efforts to fact-check details of the story with the reporter. That said, we know the story will recount episodes that will be difficult for employees to read. As we shared in a recent AMA, no organization is ever as perfect as the media suggests in the most glowing article, or as bad as the media alleges in the most negative article.

Finally, let me be absolutely clear on these points: We are committed to maintaining an environment that is safe, supportive and welcoming to employees of all backgrounds. We do not accept intolerant behavior. And we are committed to the refreshed Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity strategy (link removed) we rolled out earlier this quarter.

We take all allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior seriously, and we do not tolerate harassment or discrimination. If you experience or observe any potentially inappropriate behavior, you should report it to your manager, any member of the Operating Group or Exec Team, or directly to HR. This Confluence page (link removed) outlines all options for reporting potential misconduct, including our EthicsPoint hotline, which offers an anonymous reporting option.

Final Thoughts

In general, we should expect more, not less, media coverage (both positive and negative) as we grow. I’m sorry you’ll have to deal with these types of questions and comments again — I know it’s frustrating and distracting. Let’s keep focused on building an amazing company together; we are hitting amazing new records on users, volume and revenue, and we have so much great work to do together.

After the story is published, it’s possible that reporters from other media outlets will try to write follow-up stories based on The Times’ article and will reach out to employees. If you’re contacted by a reporter, please feel free to redirect their inquiry to our Comms team via press@.

Thank you, as always, for everything you do to make Coinbase a welcoming place for people from all backgrounds, and for supporting each other. If you have any questions, please see the FAQs below. If your question isn’t addressed there, please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone on the leadership team.

FAQ:

1. When is the story going to be published?

The Times has told us the story will appear in print on Sunday, Nov. 29 and online sometime before that.

2. Did we know The Times was working on this story?

Yes — Nathaniel Popper, a reporter at The New York Times, has been reaching out to current and former employees for the last several weeks.

3. Did we have an opportunity to review the story before publication?

No — media outlets do not share drafts of stories before publication. The Times allowed us 48 hours to fact check key allegations in the story and offer a response. Many of those allegations were false, or contained inaccuracies. In any case where all or part of an allegation was false, we shared that information with the reporter.

4. Are we planning to publicly respond to the story?

We provided several written, on-the-record statements to The Times. We have no control over whether and how The Times uses those statements (in whole or in part) in the story. Given this, we decided to make our email to employees and FAQ publicly available to provide additional facts and context.

5. Are we going to investigate any of the allegations included in the article?

To be clear: We take all allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior seriously, and we do not tolerate harassment or discrimination.

We completed investigations into the allegations included in the article when they were first flagged to the company some time ago. We are confident in the results of those investigations.

To be specific: Although the story will likely allege that a number of Black employees and contractors referenced in the story filed complaints with the company, only three of these people filed complaints during their time at Coinbase. All of those complaints were thoroughly investigated, one through an internal investigation and two by separate third-party investigators, all of whom found no evidence of wrongdoing and concluded the claims were unsubstantiated. We have shared this information with the reporter.

If we’re made aware of any new allegations that warrant investigation, we will absolutely investigate them — as we do all allegations of misconduct. If you have any concerns or are aware of any current potential misconduct, please let us know immediately.

As we shared with the company, we hired an external consultant in August of this year who specializes in data science and diversity and inclusion to cull through all of our historic data related to diversity (including hiring funnels, promotion rates, etc) and conduct a high volume of interviews with employees representing all background, functions, and tenures to understand the employee experience. The independent investigation concluded that there was no evidence of structural bias in hiring, promotions or performance evaluations. Employees reported a strong culture, fair employee treatment, high employee satisfaction and high energy for belonging, inclusion and diversity. We will continue to do the work to ensure fair treatment and a positive work experience for all employees.

6. How can I report potential misconduct?

We take all allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior seriously, and we do not tolerate harassment or discrimination. If you experience or observe any potentially inappropriate behavior, you should report it to your manager, any member of the Operating Group or Exec Team, or directly to HR. This Confluence page (link removed) outlines all options for reporting potential misconduct, including our EthicsPoint hotline, which offers an anonymous reporting option.


Upcoming story about Coinbase was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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