How Garry Tan turned a $300K investment in Coinbase into $2 billion
In 2011, hackers stole 25,000 bitcoin (US$400,000 at the time) from the Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. A year later in 2012, former Airbnb engineer Brian Armstrong saw an opportunity and decided to build a crypto exchange platform that offers better security and protection for bitcoin investors.
That same year, Armstrong enrolled in the Y Combinator startup incubator program and received a $150,000 cash infusion. His friend, former Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam, later joined him as a co-founder. During his time at the Y Combinator startup incubator program, Brian later met Garry Tan, the co-founder of Initialized Capital. Prior to that, Garry previously co-founded Posterous and Posthaven. He was also a partner at Y Combinator from 2011 to 2015.
Garry later became what Brian described as the first “CEO Coach.” Talking about Garry, Coinbase founder Brian said in an interview:
“[Garry] You helped me a ton of in the early days. I don’t know if people know that, but you were kind of like my CEO Coach, you made a big investment at the time in Coinbase before it was really obvious”
In 2012, Garry invested $300,000, making him the first investor in Coinbase. As he recalled in one of his videos, Garry said:
“I was lucky enough to be the first investor in a company called Coinbase. Today they are a Cryptocurrency exchange worth billions that just went public. But when I met Brian, Bitcoin was $5 and Coinbase was just him. Here’s the story behind my best investment yet.”
Fast forward nine years later. On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Coinbase made its debut on Wall Street closing at $328.28 per share at an $85.8 billion valuation and turning Garry Tan’s $300K investment in Coinbase into $2 billion.
In the video below, Garry explained how made $2 billion from Coinbase and what to look for in startups before you invest your money.
Below is another video of Garry explaining how made 6000x return from his $300K investment in Coinbase is his best startup investment yet.
Below is a one-on-one interview with Garry Tan and Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong.
About Garry Tan: He attended Stanford University from 1999 to 2003, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Engineering. While in high school and college, he served as a software engineer intern at Sapient, TheMan.com, and Sun Microsystems.