Employee Number One For Coinbase Might Be Very, Very Rich After IPO. He’s Been Paid Exclusively In Bitcoin Since 2012.

Coinbase employees gather outside the Nasdaq MarketSite during the company's IPO, in New York's Times Square, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Wall Street will be focused on Coinbase Wednesday with the digital currency exchange becoming a publicly traded company. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The early bird gets the bitcoin, and sometimes it’s better to be annoying than to miss the worm.

This bird, Olaf Carlson-Wee, was Coinbase’s first employee and, because of a “annoyingly long” cold email to the company seeking work, he was paid in bitcoin.

In 2012.

Coinbase, as most of the business world knows, went public on Wednesday via direct listing. The move was expected to bring the company valuation to more than $90 billion.

In a CNBC story, Carlson-Wee is shown to be among the earliest pioneers in predicting a big future for bitcoin.

He graduated Vassar College, having written his undergraduate thesis on bitcoin “and the larger implications of open source finance,” according to the story.

He was also one of Coinbase’s earliest users.

“I literally cold emailed [email protected] and said, ‘I love bitcoin. Here’s my thesis. I’ll do any job,’” Carlson-Wee told Y Combinator, a blog site also invested in Coinbase.

When Carlson-Wee sent that cold email – with his roughly 90-page thesis attached, he received an email from one of Coinbase’s two co-founders, former Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam, asking Carlson-Wee to “hop on a Skype.”

Carlson-Wee was paid entirely in bitcoin, according to the Wall Street Journal, with a starting salary of $50,000.

It’s not clear how much bitcoin he owns, or whether he owns Coinbase stock.

Those shares rose more than 3% to $332 by early afternoon ET Thursday. A day earlier, the stock closed at $328.28, falling 14% from an opening price of $381.

Carlson-Wee worked customer support, according to CNBC, and ultimately as Coinbase’s head of risk. He left in 2016 to start a crypto hedge fund. Called Polychain Capital, the fund manages $300 million-plus in assets, according to Forbes.

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