Brian Armstrong became one of the richest people in the world after Coinbase Global Inc. went public Wednesday.
Coinbase, co-founded by Mr. Armstrong in 2012, runs the largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S. and was the first major cryptocurrency-focused company to go public in the country. At the close of the first day of trading, it fetched a valuation of about $85 billion, which would make Mr. Armstrong’s 20% stake worth about $17 billion. That puts the 38-year-old chief executive among the wealthiest people in the world, based on Forbes’ billionaires list.
Yet Mr. Armstrong remains largely unknown outside crypto circles and is something of an enigma within them. He isn’t the typical, brash Silicon Valley founder or crypto evangelist. He rarely talks in the press and attends few conferences. His Twitter account is, by that platform’s standards, unusually tranquil.
What propels him, a number of people who have worked with him said, is a steadfast focus on bringing bitcoin to the masses.
Mr. Armstrong was an early enthusiast of bitcoin. Introduced in 2008 by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin was designed as a digital version of cash.