Bitcoin users are enraged over Coinbase for acquiring Neutrino and in order to voice their protest against the acquisition, they have been tweeting #DeleteCoinbase. The crypto Twitter is currently resounding with the said hashtag.
The users are upset as the executive suite of the blockchain analytics, Neutrino, the CEO Giancarlo Russo, CTO Alberto Ornaghi, and CRO Marco Valleri. The controversial leaders have had previously spearheaded projects for the startup Hacking Team that sold spyware to several governments known for human rights abuses.
For instance, the Hacking Team worked directly with the Saudi Arabian government for several cases including the enforcement group that allegedly murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as reported by Washington Post.
The startup’s website states that “hacking suite for governmental interception,” describing its wares as “offensive technology.” Reportedly, this spyware also aided surveillance and arrests of journalists in Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates.
Not that I’m @coinbase’s biggest customer by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m done.
— Udi Wertheimer (@udiWertheimer) February 27, 2019
The extent of the backlash
Measuring the extent of backlash is difficult, however, the #deletecoinbase hashtag shows over 500 results on a Google search. Notably, not all those are unique and neither are all of them necessarily from before the acquisition was announced. Furthermore, even 500 would amount to a sliver of Coinbase’s 13 million accounts.
Meltem Demirors, the founder of Shiny Pony Ventures and chief strategy officer at the asset manager CoinShares told CoinDesk, that she will no longer use Coinbase after this incident.
“There are so many other services out there that do [blockchain analysis] that don’t have these reputational issues, and frankly the ethical issues that some of these Neutrino founders have,” Demirors said. “This example, to me, clashes with all the messages [Coinbase] are trying to put out there about creating an open financial system, a more inclusive financial system.”
“This acquisition of Neutrino supports the idea of using bitcoin for surveillance capitalism.”
Coinbase hasn’t commented on the matter as if yet.
— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) March 1, 2019
Varun Srinivasan, Coinbase’s director of engineering and product, told the publishing that acquiring Neutrino is a strategic move. As the platform would allow Coinbase to expand cryptocurrency listings quickly while retaining data analysis services in-house.
It seems the risk posed by the team’s past, outweighs the future opportunity, as far as Coinbase is concerned; while the effect of the trending controversy remains to be seen.
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