As we have written about before, Coinbase — one of the biggest crypto exchanges in the world, a $50bn company that charges 1.5 per cent for the privilege of buying and selling bitcoin; a company that made $771m in profits in the first quarter of this year largely from doing just that — is really all about making this planet a better place.
No, really. It might be one of the most profitable middlemen in cryptoland, but this is a firm whose multi-billionaire founders are on a serious mission to “decentralise” the world. That’s because these guys just want “a more fair, accessible, efficient, and transparent financial system enabled by crypto”, in order to “enable economic freedom for every person and business”.
Even the company itself is decentralised these days: as they announced earlier this year, they “no longer have a headquarters located in any one city” and are now “remote-first” and therefore “decentralised”. Whoah.
But Coinbase’s latest move is even more profound, because this time it is not just the financial system — or even the workforce — that this Highly Disruptive Company is trying to decentralise. This time, it’s truth itself:
That’s right. In our fAkE nEwS era, with biased journalists like us at FT Alphaville maliciously twisting such objectively correct facts as bitcoin being “key to an abundant, clean energy future”, it’s important that the cryptosphere fights back.
After all, it is only the crypto news sites, owned and run by crypto
HODLers investors, that are truly able to remain objective. And there are just not nearly enough of them — not even close — to balance out the malevolent misinformation war being waged by the MSM nocoiners.
So Coinbase, of course, has stepped up to the plate. As announced last week, it is launching its own “fact-checking” service because, as CEO Brian Armstrong said in the blog post announcement: “Every tech company should go direct to their audience, and become a media company.”
Cynical types would say that sounds remarkably similar to traditional corporate propaganda, but this is different because it is about decentralising information, remember? And as Armstrong argues, the way to do this is neither to “turn the other cheek” nor to “fight back”, but to simply “publish the truth” (emphasis ours):
I believe there is a reasonable middle ground between these first two options, which is to simply publish the truth, in a thoughtful and respectful way, and build a direct relationship with your audience. Companies no longer need to go through biased intermediaries to communicate with their customers and stakeholders. They often have equal or greater reach via their blog, podcast, or YouTube channel. In many cases, the only organisation that knows what really happened is the company itself.
Decentralisation in action. Rather than going through biased intermediaries like journalists who are paid in fiat and so must have a vested interest in crushing crypto (or something), a company can get around this by just speak its own truth. And what greater truth is there, after all?
And despite what cynics might think, Armstrong wants to bring “radical transparency” to the cryptosphere with his new fact-checking service. Bravely he says that this means “companies will increasingly need to be comfortable sharing facts which paint them in a negative light as well”.
As you can imagine, the company’s inaugural fact-checks are pretty courageous in this respect:
And contain irrefutable facts that we are sure make the company quite uncomfortable such as:
By ensuring viable markets for renewable energy, Bitcoin incentivises companies to build more green infrastructure, which further drives down the price of clean power. This virtuous cycle can actually contribute to the fight against climate change.
To be frank, we are not the biggest fans of “fact-checks” in general — even “facts” outside of the magical world of cryptoland are often less solid than they might at first seem, as can be seen in this recent “archiving” by PolitiFact of a claim about Covid’s origins that it had originally given its most damning “Pants on fire” rating but which it now admits is “widely disputed”.
But this seems like an important step for the “space” nonetheless and honestly we have never felt more optimistic about the possibility of reaching the ultimate truth in cryptoland. Coinbase doesn’t want to stop at the fact-checking, either:
In the future, we will need to move beyond fact checking, and start creating more of our own original content to communicate with our audience, and tell the stories of crypto that are happening all over the world. Many of these stories are not being told by traditional media. Fact checking is still largely reactive, but we need to move to a more proactive stance on content creation to have a true media arm . . .
Crypto is a rapidly emerging space with growing attention and focus on it right now. Unfortunately, with this attention comes a lot of misinformation that is damaging, not only for companies like Coinbase, but for the space broadly. We want to do our best to ensure that when a customer, a regulator, or another important stakeholder is doing their research on crypto that they’re seeing information that is accurate and objective.
Over time, my prediction is that more and more companies will go direct, building their own media arm, while remaining focused on their primary goal of building great products. The tools for distribution have become democratised, and every company can become a source of truth.
If only these democratic companies had just been allowed to speak for themselves from the start the world would surely be a more equal and fair and open place by now wouldn’t it? It makes FT Alphaville wonder why we even bother.