Airbnb CEO says he’s ‘really proud’ of one of his first engineers who left and started Coinbase

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Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told CNBC he’s “really proud” of what one of the company’s first software engineers has gone on to accomplish since leaving the online home-rental marketplace.

That former Airbnb employee is Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO of Coinbase. The cryptocurrency exchange went public and soared in a direct listing Wednesday, in a major milestone for the burgeoning digital asset industry.

“Brian actually is one of the original architects of our payment platform and our fraud detection system. So I’m really, really proud of what he’s doing,” Chesky said in an interview that aired Friday on “Tech Check.”

San Francisco-based Airbnb, which had its own high-profile IPO in December, was founded in 2008. Armstrong worked for the company for a little over a year. Shortly after his departure in 2012, Armstrong started Coinbase along with Fred Ehrsam, a former foreign exchange trader at Goldman Sachs.

Chesky said he’s “kept in touch” with Armstrong.

At the time of Coinbase’s founding, bitcoin was only three years old and priced around $6. Ehrsam still serves on Coinbase’s board, but stepped back from a day-to-day role in 2017. He’s now a managing partner at Paradigm, a crypto-focused investment firm he helped start.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as Ether have been on a tear in recent months.

One factor that’s been cited for bitcoin’s price ascension — going from under $11,000 in early October to over $61,000 as of Friday — has been institutional adoption. Bitcoin, which accounts for more than half of the $2 trillion cryptocurrency market, hit an all-time high near $65,000 on Wednesday.

Two big Wall Street banks — Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — are taking steps to provide wealth management clients exposure to bitcoin, and companies like Tesla have bought the digital coin using cash on their balance sheets. The electric-vehicle maker also began accepting bitcoin as payment for its products.

Billionaire Rick Caruso’s real estate firm also recently invested in bitcoin and will begin allowing tenants at its residential and retail properties to pay rent using the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value.

Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase (L), and Brian Chesky CEO of