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First Round Review
Coinbase's Wild Ascent

Lessons from Coinbase's Wild Ascent: Four Rules for Scaling


In early January 2017, Varun Srinivasan and the rest of the engineering team at Coinbase returned from the holiday break to skyrocketing Bitcoin prices. User traffic was setting new records every day and customer support struggled to keep up as a barrage of requests bogged down response time. Srinivasan’s team was pulled into rooms to put out fires left and right, in one instance working almost two days straight just to keep the site up.

After coming up for air, Srinivasan checked in with a mentor for some encouraging words to keep him going — and got a reality check instead. “He asked me: ‘How are you going to fix this? How are you going to grow the team and systems fast enough?’” Srinivasan says. “And that’s when it just hit me: we were only looking one square ahead of our pain points but in reality, we needed to think six to 12 months ahead and work backwards to design the processes that could handle this growth.”

Since then, Srinivasan has had front-row seats as Coinbase has swelled past 500 employees, opened new offices, overseen the safe exchange of $150 billion, and rolled along with the punches of every wild price swing in the cryptocurrency market.

Here's what you'll learn from Srinivasan:

  • How org charts shape products and two strategies to make sure team missions add up. 
  • Why goals need to become less tactical and more strategic during hypergrowth.
  • A tool for thinking about org charts in 3D to visualize what's missing.


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