• Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD

Review of COIN, a Documentary About Coinbase by 10x Emmy Award-Winner Greg Kohs

Updated: Oct 11

by: Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD


 


 

Note: blog post outlined and partially written by Jasper AI, which is a software platform that is an AI-powered copy generator and writing assistant.

I spent the weekend watching the film COIN, which is a documentary by Emmy-winner Greg Kohs, about Brian Armstrong, the co-founder of Coinbase, along with Fred Ehrsam, its rise to a publicly-traded company, and the many challenges along the way.

This blog post will cover the following:

  1. Introduce the documentary and its subject matter — Coinbase is a digital asset exchange company founded in 2012 that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

  2. Give a brief overview of the film’s plot — the film follows Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, as he tries to grow the company while dealing with various challenges.

  3. My thoughts on the film — why I enjoyed it. What I thought of Brian Armstrong’s story.

  4. Discuss the implications of cryptocurrency and digital asset exchanges — are they here to stay or is this just a fad? What impact do they have on traditional financial institutions?

  5. Concluding with my overall opinion of COIN — I would definitely recommend it to others interested in learning about cryptocurrencies and their potential implications for our future economy.


Background: Brian grew up in San Jose, CA, and went to Rice University, majoring in Economics and Computer Science.

During his undergraduate years, he founded a number of startups, and tried a number of ventures eventually founding Coinbase in 2012, growing it into the largest cryptocurrency exchange by market cap in the United States, and taking the company public in 2021.


As result of his writings, I was fortunate to hear about the potential of cryptocurrency early on, and invested in Bitcoin in 2012 and Ethereum in 2017.

Because we crossed paths across various social encounters, I was fortunate enough to be able to interview him in the early days of 2009 for my original blog (Maximizing Life the Easy Way), which you can find here.

Most recently, I gave an interview in 2022 at Texas A&M University Mays Business School describing the early days of Bitcoin (from 2008 to the founding of Coinbase, to the present day) and how retail investors who understand digital assets, can use cryptocurrency as a new asset class to consider in one’s investment portfolio, and hedge against economic uncertainty today.

Review: Overall, I thought the documentary did a good job of describing Brian’s upbringing and early influences.


Greg Kohs had final creative control. The documentary cost $2 million to produce.

The parts about the launch of Coinbase, Y-Combinator, raising venture capital, Brian’s relationship with Fred, and dealing with the regulatory, social, and economic climates were particularly inspiring and how he led the company and team through difficult times particularly after COVID, BLM, and WFH.

The movie did a great job of highlighting the start, scaling, and challenges of Coinbase after 2020 and 2022.

It was cool to see camera crews get glimpses of Brian’s public and semi-private life. It was also interesting to see how Coinbase is educating Washington on the crypto industry in general, which has been marred by hacks, scams, scandals, and bad actors since the very beginning, which is common in any nascent industry.

If you’ve been following Brian, the documentary is a watered-down version of his entire journey. There were details about his journey that weren’t highlighted in the film.

More details about his journey can be found throughout the internet through his social media channels, writings, videos, and podcasts.


Brian can frequently be found posting his thoughts on Twitter.

I like the fact that Brian has turned to new media channels to get his thoughts out there to promote Coinbase, encourage tech entrepreneurship, and get more people excited about starting companies with huge global missions.

He has been cited for standing up to conventional thinking and wisdom, and running Coinbase based on a set of core principles and values, including sponsoring individuals suing the US Treasury that were affected by the Tornado Cash sanctions, citing Treasury overstepped its authority, as well as engaging in ongoing dialogue with the SEC and other government agencies.


While some decisions have been highly controversial, I anticipate that Brian’s leadership style could set a precedent for current and future CEO’s, a style that could be taught at many business schools in the future.

Most recently during the 2022 downturn, despite criticism, Coinbase has doubled down their efforts on cloud, Web3 wallets, launched their own NFT marketplace, and focused on global expansion into India, Australia, and Singapore.

They also recently announced partnership with BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.

I expect with the next crypto bull run, the groundwork that Coinbase is laying currently will be the next leg to catapult it into new heights and innovations, along with FTX and other crypto companies.

The documentary can be found on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and most other streaming platforms.


Definitely worth checking out just to see the inner workings and mindset of a tech entrepreneur.


 

About: Dr. Christopher Loo is a physician who became financially free at the age of 29, and retired early at the age of 38, as a result of making strategic investments after the 2008 financial crisis. A graduate of the MD-PhD program offered jointly through the Baylor College of Medicine and Department of Bioengineering at Rice University, he is the author of “How I Quit My Lucrative Career and Achieved Financial Freedom Using Real Estate”, and is the host of the Financial Freedom for Physicians Podcast. He is a regular contributor to KevinMD and has spoken about the importance of financial literacy for Passive Income MD, the White Coat Investor, Board Vitals, SEAK Non-Clinical Careers, SoMe Docs, Doximity, Medpage Today, FinCon, and other high-profile financial brands geared towards high-income professionals. He is passionate about the role that crypto, fintech, and innovation will play in enabling financial freedom, economic inclusion, access and opportunity for the entire world in the upcoming decades.

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