by Evan Sixtin
Co-founder of Coinbase, Fred Ersham, announced on January 18 that he would be leaving the company at the end of the month. Ersham will still hold a position on the Coinbase board. However, he stated that he would be taking some time off, and then seeking out a new venture in the crypto space. When asked why he has decided to leave Coinbase at this time, Ersham replied that he believes both the company and the wider blockchain industry to be at an "inflection point."
Fred Ersham completed a Bachelor of Science program at Duke University and graduated with honors and departmental distinction in Computer Science. He was also published in the Duke Journal of Economics. From 2010 to 2012, he was a trader for Goldman Sachs. In 2012, he founded Coinbase "the Paypal of Bitcoin," with Brian Armstrong. He has been featured in Forbes magazine and Time magazine.
In 2016, Ersham was also an advisor for Polychain Capital, which is a hedge fund started by Coinbase's first employee, Olaf Carlson-Wee, after Carlson-Wee left Coinbase in July 2016. Polychain Capital is focused on the trading of blockchain-based tokens and state on their website, "Through cryptographic verification and game-theoretic equilibrium, blockchain-based digital assets can be created, issued, and transmitted using software. Polychain Capital manages a hedge fund committed to exceptional returns for investors through an actively managed portfolio of these blockchain assets."
From his recent blog posts, "App Coins and the dawn of the Decentralized Business Model", "How to Raise Money on a Blockchain with a Token", and "Value of the Token Model", Ersham now seems to be focused on something else. That is, constructing an acceptable and transparent template for future ICO's and ITO's to be modeled on, as well as establishing secure and working prototypes for token-holders to transform into self-governing Decentralized Organizations. "Tokens align incentives between developers, contributors, users, and investors. They allow everyone who wants to contribute to a project early the opportunity to get in on the ground floor."
Crowdfunding and Initial Coin or Token Offerings have become a very lucrative form of funding in recent years. Startups are no longer seeking venture capitalists or angel investors, but are instead turning to social capital, capital acquired from normal individuals like you or me who want to be part of a social/business community. The startups that use this funding method tend to attract a very loyal and dedicated community who sincerely want to take part in the process of growing the projects which they fund. That kind of support and enthusiasm has proven to be priceless. It can alternatively be described as a digital Cooperative or a “Crypto-Coop.” In his blog posts, Ersham stresses the need for a token community to be able to govern itself: "A token offers security to community governance."
Along with Fred Ersham's recent announcement, Coinbase has announced that Mike Lempres will be joining the company as chief legal and risk officer. Coinbase also added, "Coinbase has never been in a stronger position, and we are optimistic for 2017 and beyond."