Three Years, Three Times the Growth- What is the Secret of Coinbase Growth?

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Greatness needs passion. But even the greatest passion roots in certain principles. Coinbase, since its launch three years ago, has tripled in size, business, expansion, and so much more? What is its driving force? It started with tens of engineers, for example, three years ago; and now it is working with hundreds of them. Another example is the platform’s product’s journey from one to six distinct products under its name.

The growth came with challenges-

The Coinbase team discussed the kinds of challenges it faced while walking up the growth graph-

  • More staff expansion is a good sign, but it also translates to work consistency issues.
  • There has been a tug of war between the decision of creation and decision of what should be purchased. This has especially got highlighted with the increase in the number of products.
  • A mix of different people coming from various cultures across various teams through these three years has lead to varying results

Obviously, the increase in the number of people or responsibilities means more variability. The diversity is a good factor, but the company also says that too much of inconsistencies suppress the capabilities of the team. It then becomes difficult to have any basic work principle or to have a common process to share within different teams. And therefore, the efficiency, collaboration possibilities, quality of the eventual outcome gets compromised.

Perfect solution VS efficient Solution-

The company addresses that perfectionism isn’t going to help and will not even take place. Therefore, it prioritizes efficient execution over the perfectly synced atmosphere. The company has come up with two ‘prolonged approach.’ The objective of the following two approaches is to set the right direction. The two approaches are-

  • Setting an Engineering Principles for outlining the process of working together. These principles will have the core values of the company in them.
  • Next, the role of senior leadership will come into the picture. This step will involve planning and articulating how the Coinbase platform will look like in the coming two to four years.

Why the Engineering Goals were created?

As per the company’s post, the main reasons why the engineering principles were created, are-

  • To encourage a “cohesive” engineering way of working throughout the varied culture of the company.
  • To reap efficient, productive “decentralized technical decisions.”
  • This will also allow the new members of the team to get a grasp of the work ethics and the direction of the company.

What are the Engineering Principles?

After brainstorming on the above factors, the company boiled down the following six key Engineering Principles-

  • Security First
  • Build Value
  • One Coinbase
  • Explicit Tradeoffs
  • API Driven, and
  • 1–2-Automate

The main objective of these six principles is to bring the diversified teams to work for a single aim, in a common direction, and to bring all the team members both new and old members alike, on the same page to work together as one team.

Now let us have a look at these six Engineering Principles-

  • Security First- Security is the key objective of the company. Security of the users’ funds at all costs is what Coinbase wants. The company wants to see this factor as a priority at every growth step it takes.
  • Build Value- Coinbase wants to those things that offer ‘differentiated value.’ The aim is to prioritize the internal reusing of the things and to give the best shot every time while keeping efficiency and smart work hand in hand.
  • One Coinbase- This principle simply means unity. The company feels that in unity, the entire team and the customers can grow together. Team growth is more important than an individual’s growth in the eyes of Coinbase. For this, the company wants to work towards teaching and to spread awareness about cryptocurrencies to the people.
  • Explicit Tradeoffs- The core importance under this principle is given to users’ point of view. The aim is to prioritize the ‘scale, reliability, and extensibility,’ even if it demands more time. The company further added- “To validate an idea, we get something out the door quickly, then iterate (and are comfortable throwing our work away if necessary).”
  • API Driven- A transparent communication between the various teams and efficient interfaces can be achieved through a well-strategized API contract. This also makes the communication between the teams and its members far more efficient and exposes the product towards more visibility.
  • 1–2-Automate-The company automates its process for the third time. It trades fixed costs for a number of future payoffs. The aim is to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

The company believes that getting these principles on paper is one thing, but the actual thing of value is about walking the talk. It wants to support its team members to imbibe these values and bring them to action.

On the other hand, the company is aiming at sharing the process of coming up with these principles in order to help other organizations to use them in their growth strategies. Also, in the next six months, the platform will share ‘retrospective’ check on whether these principles worked out well or need more amendments. Well, this is truly a sign of a great leader who is ready to chalk out the growth plan again from scratch should there be any need!