Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, on Coinbase’s “apolitical culture”

Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, on Coinbase’s “apolitical culture”
Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, on Coinbase’s “apolitical culture”
Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple.

John Chiala | CNBC

The fintech start-up Ripple is not planning to follow its Silicon Valley colleague Coinbase to ban politics from the workplace.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong caused a stir late last month when he wrote a blog post setting out the company’s policy of not getting involved in social and political issues.

He said the virtual currency exchange would “not discuss internal causes or political candidates” or deal with issues that “have nothing to do with our core mission”. Armstrong added that the company has an “apolitical culture” and is “laser focused” on advancing crypto and making profits.

Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, disapproved of this stance in an interview with CNBC, saying that tech companies have an “obligation” to work towards solving societal problems.

“We think our mission is to create an Internet of value, but we strive for positive outcomes for society,” Garlinghouse told CNBC. “I think tech companies have the opportunity – but actually an obligation – to be part of the solution.”

Coinbase declined to comment. The company had offered severance packages to employees who wanted to leave the company to update their work culture. About 5% of Coinbase’s workforce accepted the company’s offer.

Ripple, known for the cryptocurrency XRP, is promoting corporate activism and providing paid time off for employees to vote and volunteer in the upcoming presidential election, a spokesman said.

“The sad reality is – and I say this as a long-time veteran of Silicon Valley – that some of these (social) problems are at least exacerbated by the technology platforms themselves,” said Garlinghouse.

For example, the problem of online platforms like and YouTube being used to manipulate high stakes elections and political discourse is generally well documented.

Garlinghouse said he and his company are also suing YouTube on allegations that Google’s video sharing service failed to protect consumers from “giveaway” fraud by using fake profiles to trick viewers into making thousands of dollars to send in XRP.

“We didn’t have to do that, it doesn’t help Ripple,” he said. “What is emphasized, however, is that platforms must take responsibility for the problems they contribute to.”

YouTube wasn’t immediately available to comment when CNBC contacted him.

Last week, Garlinghouse told CNBC that Ripple – which was valued at $ 10 billion in its most recent funding round – is considering moving overseas due to a lack of regulatory clarity in its home market surrounding XRP.

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