Folks who follow Bitcoin, or digital currency news in general, will know Coinbase as a leader in the legalization of digital currencies and driving force behind the technology that on-ramps new users into the ecosystem. Coinbase has garnered acclaim for their success in attracting venture capital as well as achieving a number of firsts. Like any business, the success of Coinbase is due to the people behind the company; the employees. Rather than focus on the business aspect, like we normally do at CoinReport, we recently had the opportunity to talk with one of the folks helping power Coinbase to the top, Samo Drole, product designer.
Could you tell me a little bit about your background?
I’m from Slovenia, a small country in Europe with an astonishing landscape. There, I co-founded an advertising agency called Idearna and also worked as a web designer for the biggest news company in Slovenia. I was introduced to Bitcoin as an investor and loved watching the price rise, but I found it difficult to use for daily tasks and started thinking about possible solutions. That’s when I met engineers Sašo Matejina and Ratko Rudič, who were similarly interested in Bitcoin, and shortly thereafter, we co-founded and built Blockr.io – a blockchain explorer where I was the lead designer.
So, what attracted you to Coinbase?
I fully supported Coinbase’s mission – to make Bitcoin a global currency and make payments more open and efficient. I was amazed by the passion of the employees to make that vision a reality. I also loved that the company focused on user experience, appreciated good design, and was building a strong brand and great products.
What are some of the design principles Coinbase utilizes?
At Coinbase, we are always considering the end users of our products. Because Bitcoin is still a very new piece of technology, we are doing a lot of data-driven design to focus on clean, minimal and intuitive interfaces. We strive to achieve consistency in the user experience across all products so our users don’t need to think about every single step of a process while interacting with Bitcoin.
What is life like at Coinbase?
Coinbase is one big family of friends who are passionate and excited about this new technology. We work hard and there is always plenty to do, so we try to make our processes conducive for productivity. For example, we try to keep meetings to no more than three people, or if someone has headphones on it signals that they are “in the zone” and shouldn’t be disturbed. Organizations, products, and software trend toward complexity, and at Coinbase we are always asking ourselves what can be removed, consolidated, and redone to eliminate complexity.
Being in the financial industry, we are also quite focused on making payments more open and efficient, and each of us plays a role in the global adoption of Bitcoin. I appreciate having full ownership over projects while working with some of the brightest minds in the space.
Many Bitcoin-related companies have failed, why is Coinbase succeeding?
In the early years of Bitcoin, people were blinded by its skyrocketing price. Many thought the price would continue to increase and didn’t have a strategy in place to cope with the decrease in revenue when the price of Bitcoin dropped. Coinbase, however, moved fast and with an exceptional team, we built great products that helped us weather the storm.
Where do you see Coinbase in 5 years?
It is very hard to predict anything in this industry that is evolving at lightning speed, but I’m confident Coinbase will remain one of the leading companies in Bitcoin with some crazy, innovative, and futuristic products.
What specifically about working in the Bitcoin world do you find challenging?
One of the most challenging aspects I find about working in the Bitcoin industry is the level of misunderstanding and mistrust that still exists. This makes our work much harder, but also much more interesting since we need to find solutions for how to present ideas in a simple way. It is crucial for us to make it right and show our users that Bitcoin is the future in the financial world.
Do you personally own any Bitcoin?
What blockchain projects are you interested in?
There has been a lot of hype lately around the blockchain, and it’s an exciting time to see this interest and experimentation. Ethereum is also quite interesting and it will be great to see how it will evolve. Right now I am focused on Bitcoin, where we still have a lot of work ahead of us to design interfaces so simple and intuitive that even my grandma would understand how to use it.
Thanks to Samo for taking the time to answer our questions and provide some insight into the inner workings of Coinbase, a company that many are keeping tabs on in order to predict the potential of digital currencies.
Image provided by The Outcast Agency’s Nic Corpora, the press liaison