Does the name Olaf Carlson-Wee sound familiar? If not, it really should. He was the first-ever employee at Coinbase, and he has got an interesting story behind his employment with one of the world’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the western hemisphere.
Olaf Carlson-Wee Details How He Got Hired at Coinbase
Now the founder of a large cryptocurrency hedge fund, Olaf got his start in the crypto space as an employee of Coinbase. He did not necessarily have tons of experience in cryptocurrency, nor did he have a heavy tech background. He was simply a recent college graduate looking to get his start.
In the year 2012, Olaf – following his graduation from New York’s Vassar College – did not know what to do in terms of a career. While he had majored in sociology, there was something about the crypto space – which was still new to the world – that intrigued him. This prompted him to send a rather long email to the founders of Coinbase describing his interest in the field.
He was also one of the company’s earliest account holders. In his email, he decided to attach the near 90-page undergraduate thesis he had written about bitcoin and its “larger implications of open-source finance” to see if this would up his chances. Apparently, it did. In a recent interview, he mentions:
I literally cold emailed jobs@Coinbase and said, ‘I love bitcoin. Here is my thesis. I will do any job.
This must have made a huge impression on Brian Armstrong and the rest of his executive team given that literally about five minutes after sending the email, Olaf was surprised to see a response in his inbox. One of the co-founders – Fred Ehrsam – had briefly read through his message and wanted to hop on a Skype call to talk with him.
They did so, and about 20 minutes later, Ehrsam asked Olaf if he would be willing to travel to San Francisco and provide two presentations for him and the rest of the Coinbase board. Olaf explains what the presentations had to be about:
The first should explain something complicated you know very well. The second should outline your vision for Coinbase… My strategy was to clean up PR problems but focus 100 percent on security. Bad customer experiences will eventually be forgotten, but a security incident will not be forgotten.
Finishing the Interview Process
From there, things got a little more complicated, as he was asked to solve a rather cryptic math problem. However, according to Olaf, he managed to figure it out a lot faster than he expected to.
After that, he was offered a two-week paid trial with the company and then transferred to full-time status. Interestingly, he was with the company for three years, making approximately $50K per year which was paid entirely in bitcoin.