- Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong is set for a hefty payday as his company speeds toward a direct stock listing.
- According to Bloomberg calculations, his stock options could total a $US3 ($4) billion windfall.
- Considered a bellwether for the cryptocurrency industry, Coinbase’s public listing could give legitimacy to the movement.
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Coinbase’s surge in popularity amid a boom in cryptocurrencies has helped mint founder and CEO Brian Armstrong as one of the newest Silicon Valley ultra-rich.
Amstrong is set to reap a potential $US3 ($4) billion windfall from the digital currency exchange’s direct listing as a trend of mega grants to tech founders continues full steam ahead, Bloomberg calculated from company filings and news reports. His stake in the company is worth $US15 ($20) billion, the news site estimates.
In 2020, Armstrong took home $US56 ($73) million of stock option awards on top of a $US1 ($1) million salary and another $US1 ($1).8 million in reimbursement for legal and security fees, according to registration documents.
Like peers including Elon Musk, the most well-payed CEO in the world in recent years, Armstrong’s pay day isn’t a shoe-in. He’ll need to shepherd the company through a choppy cryptocurrency market, and hit certain milestones along the way. What’s more, his 9.3 million option grant doesn’t even begin vesting until Coinbase’s stock price hits $US200 ($261) – up from a “fair value” award price of $US23.49 ($31).
“We believe the performance conditions associated with the 2020 CEO Performance Award are extremely rigorous and appropriately align Mr. Armstrong’s incentives with the interests of our stockholders,” Coinbase said in its filing. His options fully vest at a roughly 1,600% price increase.
Coinbase is set to hit public exchanges within weeks, when outside investors for the first time will value shares of the company. Luckily for Armstrong, the required price increases could be near: Axios reported in February that Coinbase sold several tranches of stock totaling 1.8 million shares, going for as high as $US303 ($395) each – a nearly 1200% increase from the option strike price.
As traders await first trades, bitcoin has continued to spike higher. The world’s largest cryptocurrency surged as high as $US57,000 ($74,318) last month before paring some of gains in recent weeks. A survey by Goldman Sachs found the bank’s clients to be largely optimistic about the currency’s future price, with 22% expecting it to double in the next year.