Cover photo

The Coinbase Flywheel

Why Coinbase will become the Amazon of this era of the internet

Coinbase thinks like Amazon

Many start-up pitch decks talk about touching 1 billion customers by X. 99% never even reach 1 million. Amazon is on track to achieve this moonshot through relentless short-term execution quarter by quarter AND within a looooooong timeframe; Jeff Bezos thinks in decades and his shareholder letters have been shaking out paperhands and jeets ever since the IPO. The diamond hand's are up nearly 200x since May 1997. More importantly, Amazon Prime is the best shopping experience in my life. Period. Notice the lack of the word online...

Coinbase wants to bring the next billion users on-chain. I find this claim believable, because they executed the first three phases as if there had been no resistance, no lawsuits, no regulatory nightmares, no mocking from Jamie Dimon & Co.

Back in 2016 they knew where the puck was going and 8 years since sharing the "Coinbase Secret Masterplan" the Delaware C-Corp is well into phase four.

From "Coinbase Secret Masterplan" - Sep 7, 2016

Innovating Investor Relations

I don't particularly like corporates and the business theatre they often (have to) play internally and externally to keep up the story they promise to investors. There is a whole industry called Wall Street that has the power to keep Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, in power, or topple him - based on meeting, beating or missing quarterly analysts' expectations.

CB knocked on out of the park with their Q3 2023 results, but not just in terms of the numbers. More impressively, they minted the topline results as an NFT and started a reporting revolution. Could NFTs as fundamental enabler of the emerging creator and ownership economy have gotten a more powerful advertising than this?

What if next NFT from COIN Earnings includes a 60 second pitch on an audio track? Or selected highlights as a Glitch-Gif? Imagine you can click on one of the tiles and see data? As a registered analyst from Blackrock or JP Morgan you might even see token-gated information, as if the tile you click works like a /frame on Farcaster? More than expensive JPGS then, huh?

Minted 455,000 times from COIN Earnings

A bluechip for Bluechips

Coinbase is the uncontested blockchain bluechip. It custodies most Bitcoin ETF. Who is Larry Fink going to call first when Blackrock gets their ETH ETF approved and wants to tokenize every RWA (Real World Asset) they have on their balance sheet. The thesis is clear: Base will be the de facto chain for regulated DeFi.

Coinbase is clean afaik. FTX is gone, Sam in prison, Binance is counted, and many a centralised crypto blockchain service went supernova in 2022. CB is the only big one standing and their standing is so rock solid that even the mights SEC will off-ramp itself in the sake of saving face (my bet). Why? Even General Warren will pull back her army when she realises fully that it won't be in her interest to stomp on millions of voter’s portfolios.

Coinbase has 110 million KYC' customers and counting. This is one of the two unfair advantages, USPs, moats, this company has. have you tried Coinbase Commerce? I recently ordered a book from Spirit DAO and was surprised to even be routed through this (new to me) check-out path. So simple. Wait until CB releases EMBEDDED WALLETS...

Even the existing Coinbase Wallets build a powerful bridge between various custodial services from Coinbase to the free and self-directed life I enjoy on Base.

Minted 9.4K times from Chase the Base

Disrupting Corporate Innovation

Base is based. It is awesome! I have been on base only since December and I already call it my on-chain home.

Much has already been written about Base's strategy to become the web3 app store just like Apple created the App Store for web2.

The big difference here is the mental model behind both stores:

Apple = wallet garden vs. Base = wild garden

Based on my understanding of organizational structures, corporate innovation and leadership, Base could become single biggest differentiator for Coinbase.

Coinbase = The Tower & Base = The Square

Executives and employees at Coinbase have been and must continue be 100% compliant, diligent, playing it safe. SEC, Warren's Army, Institutional Investors, Corporate Clients, JP Morgan's analysts etc. Overly-simplified: core business.

Base on the other hand is a new organisational life form in corporate innovation. I have been working in and with Corporate VC funds (CB has one), Corporate Accelerators, Corporate Innovation Hubs and so forth. The vast majority of these vessels have not delivered the promised innovation for users, consumers, clients, shareholders. Why?

Innovation happens on the fringes! Corporate bros and sistas rarely look, sound, or feel fringe. Just go to any random industry conference or airport business lounge. Remember the 1970s and 1980s? Punks are fringe.

Punk #8566 owned by Jesse Pollak

I am a leadership coach, team observer, culture shaper, organization designer and group facilitator of 30 years. I have NEVER observed something like the emerging ecosystem around it's founder and source, Jesse Pollak.

Jesse is Base contributor #0001 - AND - he is a CB Punk: corporate business punk. AFAIK Jesse works for CB as an employee leading the Base division (or whatever this is called in internal docs). Yet, he genuinely comes across as stewarding an open, permissionless L2 ecosystem that breeds the likes of Mochi and Toshi. Those anon devs won't ever fill out powerpoint templates that Jesse sends to Brian on a weekend before the analyst conference on Monday!

Yet, the vast majority of real world use cases will be created by these decentralsied projects, apps and protocols - all built on Base.

The genius of this set-up seems to be this: Coinbase is taking itself out as the middle man between innovators and users. In fact, the more CB can get out of the way, the more it will profit. Most corporate executive cannot square this circle and do not possess the required mental models.

To be honest, I expected Base, the Coinbase L2 on Optimism's Superchain, to feel a bit corporate. I was so wrong. In fact, whenever I see Jesse and his team casting on Farcaster, I notice no difference between Basers (aka Coinbase employees) and the likes of Dan Romero, Ted (not Lasso), Wake, and other cool cats and outcasts.

Farcaster, Frames & the Flywheel

Minted >10K times from Frames of the Future

In my perception, Base and Farcaster are inextricably linked. Which other blockchain has the energetic entanglement with a fast growing sufficiently decentralized social media graph? And can iterate and incubate at the speed of state finality in this high-value social substrate?

When I mint NFTs on Zora, I notice that I am paying with ETH on Base. How? Well, it doesn't matter, and that is the entire point of the consumer crypto stack, right?

Apropos, and then Farcaster, which is sufficiently decentralised, launched Frames...which is a total game changer. As Base itself writes: "When a Frame pops up mid-scroll, going on-chain moves from intimidating to inevitable." Entirely new economic models will be build on Frames, and many of the code in the backend will be built on Base I suspect. This is how Base will deliver its part for bringing the next billion users on-chain...

...and Coinbase will be able to put that onto its corporate balance sheet.

Elon hasn't catapulted humanity to Mars yet but it feels like a safe bet that Coinbase will indeed rocket to the moon in this cycle.

Wen flippening Amazon?

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