Growing Coinbase with Verity Coltman

Coinbase makes buying and selling digital currency simple. But what was it like being on the early team building a more open financial system? 

Verity Coltman is the Director of Business and Development at Coinbase. She’s been with the company since 2017 and has an extensive background in Banking and Payments.  She is passionate about demystifying crypto and helping people to take their first step into the crypto-economy. 

Eve #WealthWednesday Highlight 59: Verity Coltman, Director of Business & Development - Coinbase

Can you share a bit about yourself?

I’m a business development and partnership leader at Coinbase. I’ve been at the company for almost five years now where I focused on retail and growth partnership. Partnerships such as engaging with the crypto economy. I also previously worked on payment deals before joining Coinbase. I was at Accenture for five years in a management consulting role in financial services. Outside of work, I like to invest in web3 and Defi degen as well.

What was your first investment?

I was working at TradFi at Accenture for a number of years. I  read T's and C's of a lot of different products that are out there. At the time, FinTech was emerging as this hot, new vertical. I used my consultant promotion bonus at Accenture and place it into an ETF when I was still working in Australia. That was my first-ever investment.

My friend who also worked in consulting helped me get into crypto. We were at a happy hour and I heard they participated in the ETH ICO. I thought to myself, “Why would you pay for a coin that seems so expensive now?”. I was thinking about it as a ‘currency’ use case rather than many other things you can do with Ethereum as a smart contract platform. I was bearish on ETH at first but as I read more about the space and got educated, I fell down the rabbit hole and never looked back. I’ve been in Crypto since then and bought my first Bitcoin in 2017 through an Australian exchange.

How/why did you get into your space or in Coinbase? 

I started doing my own research and was learning more about Bitcoin. A lot of people talk about it as a form of digital gold or native value on the internet. At the same time, I was working in a bank and financial services where I encountered payments and capital market efficiency. I saw the parallels between TradFi and Defi that made a lot of sense. 

I bought Bitcoin when I discovered you could only buy a fraction of it. That certainly helped as it felt expensive for a newbie in the space. From there, I started participating in a couple of ICOs. It provided an alternative capital raising opportunity for a lot of projects.

I’m a person who likes to put my money where my mouth is. It was helpful to make that investment because I had skin in the game. I followed projects, and teams and sent some crypto to my friends. I was going back and forth between Australia and US and it was hard to transfer money around. Getting my AUD in the US takes several days, I’m often unsure of the fees that I need to pay, and how much money will land in my bank account. I liked being able to send Bitcoin as it was fast and cheap compared to traditional banking infrastructure. It was a janky user experience at the time and I felt that Coinbase was doing a good job of making things simple. I was about to start a sabbatical away from consulting and I wanted to use that time to think about how can I get to crypto full-time. I applied for a job at Coinbase the first week I landed back on the west coast and haven’t looked back since.

What role do you play in the wealth space and why is it important?

My role in business development partnerships today is not strictly about traditional wealth. Crypto is an asset class that’s here to stay. There are a lot of opportunities for people where they can add crypto tokens or NFTs to their portfolio as part of their overall wealth strategy. We help people take their first step. 

The best company I can work for with my expertise is one that demystifies crypto and helps people take that first step. Several partnerships that I’ve worked on in my time at Coinbase helped simplify, streamline, and even mainstream the experience.

How can people get educated? We worked on the news and market data partnerships that surfaced high signal information within our product. How can we get things like east fiat on and off ramps so that people can transact and buy Bitcoin with their bank account, debit card, or another way that they know and trust? Then, the Coinbase Debit Card that we shipped in the last few years allows customers to spend crypto, like USDC, while earning passive crypto rewards.

These things unlock more exposure to the crypto economy and people. People can actively invest and earn rewards passively or stake. These things are important to consider when one thinks about their overall wealth and portfolio.

Outside of work, I invest in Defi and in web3 companies. I’m excited to be part of the Eve DAO syndicate and direct cap table investing. I look for many ways to help other companies build products in web3. They are part of my personal portfolio allocation.

What do you believe is the most exciting thing you’ve learned and want others to know?

We recently went through a market correction that introduced fear, uncertainty, and doubts to people. You’ll hear people talking about FUD within crypto. TradFi uses that time as well so it’s not exclusively about Defi. A lot of people look at a correction as a period that’s bad but I find it a great time to be firm. Be firm on what you’re trying to build or working on and why. Being in the down cycle is a great time for people to learn and upskill without the pressure of watching prices all the time.

I hear a lot of people say “You’ve been in the space for so long and I’m getting in so late”, or “It’s too late for me”, I think that is not true. Crypto is still early. Bitcoin started after the great recession, ETH started in 2015. In the last seven days, Bitcoin’s active addresses are still less than a million, and ETH’s around less than 650 to 700k. When you think about the number of people on the planet that could benefit from this kind of technology that number is still so little and we’re still early.

I encourage people to think about ways to at least get started. Make some kind of investment and work out your framework over time. Work out your risk appetite and what you might be willing to lose.

Is there a person or a company that’s really inspired you?

There are a couple of projects that I've been following closely. One is Syndicate DAO, what they’re doing is cool. Voting is a  decentralized investing protocol that is similar to the native web3 way of investing.

NFT tooling like Lasso Labs, they’re building a real-time view of token utility that makes it easier for creators to push real-time information about community access. You can track the utility of your NFT with dynamic tooling rather than being static and locked in time.

Rosebud AI is an AI platform for NFTs. They build that out of the back of a viral app called Tokkingheads which was a huge success. You can see profile pics in the NFT world and a number of blue chip projects associated with it.

I’m also lucky to have an incredible network from being in Coinbase for such a long time. There are a number of Alums that I follow and would recommend.

Linda Xie who runs Scalar Capital. Katherine Wu who was at Coinbase but recently moved to Archetype. Meltem Demirors at CoinShares and Jill Carlson are sharp commentators on web3 investing. They are all high signal women that I love to follow and hear what they’re thinking about. They would be my main call out to individuals.

I also love what Bankless DAO is doing. They have awesome podcasts and newsletters. Unchained podcast by Laura Shin is one of the first crypto podcasts out there. Delphi has a daily newsletter that’s solid if you want to get more crypto technical or start your technical edge.

What advice would you give to someone getting started?

You don’t need to be an expert. Start with something simple. Coinbase has a product called Coinbase Earn where you complete a small educational task and earn crypto. There are a number of companies that do similar things. That’s a great way to spend a little bit of time learning and earning a reward as a result.

Once you start to read and engage in podcasts, videos, or reading materials it’s important to index towards the way that you learn best. I mentioned that I put my money where my mouth is and when I feel I have skin in the game, I'm more likely to track things,  read news and see how my portfolio is doing. That is more impactful for me to do and learn than to spend hours stuck on reading. Something that you might want to think about as you go into riskier projects is the risk capital. What are you willing to allocate and willing to lose?

Following people and doing little tasks here and there will only get you so far. When I’m stuck, I reach out to my network and ask them questions. Finding a way to connect with other people who are on a web3 journey through DMS, commenting, discord group, or joining a DAO can be helpful. They are a great source of information to help you level up. Ask your network, ask around, and follow great people. Eventually, someone will mention their great friend or a network that they use to help you level up in the space.

One of my good friends at Coinbase told me about CryptoPunks NFT drop. It was silly to me before, I was like “ Why would I pay for something like that? I’m kicking myself for that decision now and all of them are now enjoying the punks and putting them all over their social. Refine your decisions over time. If I see a project that I’m interested in, It’s not enough to just follow socials and read. I  always find what’s my in that community. A lot of projects have discord now and I jump in to take a look at their main discord channels. I want to see the quality of their discussion or if they are just shilling the project so early people can make a lot of money while others are left holding the bag. Have they done other projects? Are there other signals that can lead to high-quality projects? Have the people run a crypto project before? Have they been an entrepreneur? How does the team know each other? Do they all bring unique expertise? Are they happy to get their hands dirty, work hard, and not just focus on shilling projects?

People have a bias towards spending big sets of time researching. They will set aside six hours researching a project and make decisions by the end of it. What I find most powerful is just incremental slots of time where you think about your framework and score a project. Scoring is based on things that you care about, their real use case, their connection with your skills, and whether they are long-term. I usually score them and revisit them in a couple of days. I want to align my investment with my values because I am not here to make a quick and speculate but rather I’m here for the long haul.

How can we stay in touch?

If you’re passionate about web3, into investing space and working crypto. You can connect with me personally via Twitter or Angelist. At Coinbase, you can check out coinbase.com and all social channels to see what products we’re shipping and other stuff.

 

DISCLAIMER: The thoughts and views expressed in this video do not constitute financial or investment advice.

Learn more about our members at www.evewealth.com

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