Coinbase “Transition Out” Former Hacking Team Employees After Public Outcry
Brian Armstrong on March 5, 2019, announced through a Medium post that Coinbase’s employees who had previously worked at Hacking Team will transition out of the firm. This comes after Coinbase received flak on the internet after its acquisition of blockchain intelligence firm named Neutrino.
The past couple of weeks haven’t been particularly kind to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, as it received widespread criticism for employing people from Neutrino who had previously worked for Hacking Team, irrespective of the fact that they had any direct affiliation with the notorious group.
For the uninitiated, Hacking Team is an intelligence organization that has been accused by Reporters without Borders of cooperating with authoritarian regimes.
Matters reached a boiling point for Coinbase towards the end of February 2019, as users took to social media using the #DeleteCoinbase hashtag to show their discontent towards the exchange’s acquisition of Neutrino.
In a bid to undo the wrong, Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong stated that the exchange and Neutrino have come to an agreement to transition the former Hacking Team personnel out of the company. The Medium post reads in part:
“While we looked hard at the technology and security of the Neutrino product, we did not properly evaluate everything from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company. We took some time to dig further into this over the past week, and together with the Neutrino team have come to an agreement: those who previously worked at Hacking Team (despite the fact that they have no current affiliation with Hacking Team), will transition out of Coinbase.”
The Story So Far
Coinbase acquired Neutrino, a blockchain intelligence company, on February 19, 2019, for an undisclosed amount. The aim of this acquisition was to utilize the Neutrino’s technology and offerings to bolster the exchange’s security. However, the acquisition initiated a wave of problems for the US-based exchange.
Notably, prior to establishing Neutrino, Giancarlo Russo, Marco Valleri, and Alberto Ornaghi had worked at Hacking Team, an intelligence organization that has often been accused of being in cahoots with authoritarian regimes.
The association with a group of people with totalitarian background didn’t bode too well for Coinbase, as it soon found itself at the receiving end of criticism, especially given the fact that it’s a leading exchange in a market that finds its business DNA in liberal ideologies.