Pass the popcorn. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong just announced a new film titled Coin: A Founder’s Story will be available to stream on Prime, YouTube, and elsewhere as of Friday. As the title suggests, it’s the tale of Armstrong and his company, produced by a filmmaker whose earlier subjects include the Alaskan wilderness and the game Go.
A trailer for the film shows interviews with crypto luminaries like Vitalik Buterin and Katie Haun along with footage of Armstrong’s early childhood, interspersed with geopolitical scenes and slogans about Bitcoin and economic freedom. In a Twitter thread about the film, Armstrong says it shows the “good, bad, and ugly,” and that his goal was to demystify both corporate founders and crypto itself.
Armstrong describes the film as a documentary, but is it really? Documentaries are not typically commissioned by their subjects, and the trailer, as one Twitter pal wrote me, feels more like a hagiography. This raises the question of why Armstrong backed such a project in the first place.
A person close to Armstrong tells me that one of his motivations is to avoid the fate of Mark Zuckerberg, who became defined in the popular imagination as a sneaky little creep as a result of the 2010 Oscar winner The Social Network. In this sense, Armstrong believes that the media has a malicious agenda to smear tech executives and will never give him a fair shake, so he might as well tell his own story first.
Armstrong’s decision to make his own “documentary” is also consistent with his long-time habit of trying to invent things from scratch, be it the media (“we will publish the truth”) or philanthropy (a plan to raise “$1 billion”) or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Even if these efforts often leave Armstrong with egg on his face, he remains undaunted in his goal of doing things on his own terms—a quality that, in fairness, is necessary for those rare individuals who can build a public company.
Coinbase investors, meanwhile, are likely wishing Armstrong would spend a little less time on his Hollywood aspirations (which also include an NFT-based animated film), and a little more time tending to the company’s languishing stock price. But for now, let’s reserve judgment and simply note the film is a first for the crypto industry and another original decision by one of the space’s most influential people.
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