From the Desk of Binance US CEO Brian Brooks.
I am incredibly honored to join one of the fastest growing and most integrated crypto platforms in the world. Together, I look forward to building a culture of trust, innovation, growth, and customer delight.
You’ll notice that trust is first on my list. One way colleagues build trust is by sharing motivations and drivers with one another. Here are mine:
I spent much of my career in traditional legal and financial institutions. I worked at a global law firm where I represented banks and other financial services companies. I helped run one of the 50 largest banks. I was general counsel at Fannie Mae, a $3 trillion company. Why? Partly because I was interested in the work, but also because I was a kid from a small town looking to credentialize myself, to work with the smartest people, and honestly, to make my family proud.
That was fine as far as it went. But in 2015 I began to embrace fintech, and realized that the legacy systems I had worked with were unnecessarily slow, complicated, and focused on reinforcing the traditional allocation of wealth in our society. Tech promised to make those systems better—by lowering the cost of credit, increasing access to financial services for historically excluded groups, or by simply reducing the friction of the traditional system.
Then, to take it a step further, I discovered crypto and realized that as helpful as fintech can be at incrementally improving the financial system, the system itself will -- and should -- undergo a complete overhaul. That’s why I joined Coinbase. It’s also why, when I was appointed to run the U.S. national banking system, I focused on innovation and on crypto in particular: Because the future is networked, networks are powered by crypto tokens, and we need regulatory clarity to allow the future to unfold in a way that benefits the largest number of people at the lowest possible cost.
My Journey to Binance.US
When I left government in January, I started the first actual job search since graduating from law school. I explored many interesting opportunities in venture finance, private equity, fintech, and banking. I joined Binance.US because it is the most promising platform in the most important emerging market in the world.
Crypto will win because, again, the future is networked. Binance.US will win because we will:
- Make it cheaper and easier for customers to access crypto than the competition;
- Have a faster decision cycle than the competition;
- Be more than a crypto exchange; we will be a platform that builds products that help retail customers generate wealth, that helps companies generate loyalty, that helps institutional traders create a two-sided market, and more.
Binance.US is such a compelling platform that there is literally nowhere I would rather be than right here—building this company with all of you.
We have two luxuries at the moment: We are a ‘big’ company in terms of revenues, customer base, and profits, but we are a small company in terms of headcount. That means we can consciously build the kind of company at which we want to work—together. What does that mean to me?
First and foremost, we want to attract and retain the best talent in all disciplines. When we recruit, we should be relentless in building a deep bench of A-players. Those of us already at Binance.US should not be threatened by hiring people better than us. I’m a big believer in the idea that A-players hire A-players, while B-players hire C-players. Let’s aspire to the former.
Second, a corollary to that is that you don’t find the best talent by only looking at the usual suspects. As the hiring partner of a global law firm, I learned that the best talent can’t be found by only recruiting at Harvard. The top student at Howard is almost always better than the 50th best student at Harvard. This is why diversity needs to be a priority. For a host of historical reasons, some of the most qualified women and minorities will be found at schools and employers where companies don’t traditionally look. If we focus on turning over every stone to find the best talent, that will, by definition, result in a more diverse workforce. Our company will be more effective as a result.
Third, we should aspire to a workplace where our respect for each other as colleagues allows us to express our opinions without disrupting our ability to work together. Muzzling our personal opinions about the important issues of the day is not realistic for us as human beings. At the same time, we must not become a place where one group of colleagues demands that another group be disciplined or silenced for having the wrong opinions, or a place where politics displaces innovation as the focus of our attention.
One important lesson I learned during my first foray in Silicon Valley is default to trust. Do not assume that someone has bad intentions or bad values because they disagree with you. Let’s learn from each other and find strength in our diversity of background and opinion.
Challenges and Opportunities Ahead
The work ahead is both daunting and exciting. Let’s address the daunting first:
We have a customer support problem. It would be easy to say this is a high-class problem: Only a rapidly scaling company would grow so fast that, of its 2 million+ new customers, 100,000 have delayed customer support requests. That would be arrogance speaking. Each customer support ticket represents a person who wants to access the cryptoeconomy through our platform, but cannot. They may be having trouble passing our KYC protocols, or they may have lost their 2FA device, or they may have had their account locked out by a risk update we didn’t tell them about in advance.
Here’s how we are addressing this urgent problem:
● We recently hired Becky Wilkins to lead our Customer Support team. Becky is deeply experienced, and I have confidence that her leadership will materially improve the customer experience in the coming weeks and months.
● Becky is increasing the size of our Customer Support team by 10x. This surge of talent will enable us to address the backlog of customer support tickets faster and more efficiently.
● We are working on a self-service tool that will allow customers to solve some of the most common account problems on their own. This should do for our customer experience what online check-in did for lines at the airport.
● Over the next few months, we will implement better root cause analysis to avoid customer support backlogs. We will also take direct control over risk policy to avoid unanticipated changes in software logic that locks people out of their accounts.
Additionally, we have to earn the trust of our regulators. Not only do we have to enhance our risk management and compliance programs to ensure we comply with our legal obligations,we have to be seen as doing so. With that in mind, we will launch an external review of our BSA/AML compliance program, and will continue to iterate and refine our token listing framework to ensure it identifies assets that we conclude are not regulated securities, while ruling out assets that we cannot legally trade. Compliance is the key to creating trust with both our customers and our regulators.
Now for the exciting news: We have an enormous opportunity to be much more than a spot trading platform for the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, although we will be one of the two biggest such platforms in the US before long. Our access to BNB and BUSD tokens enables us to create an integrated crypto ecosystem like no other US exchange. We can (and have already been asked to) help companies unlock the value of their customer loyalty programs, help entrepreneurs launch new businesses, and do other things that go beyond mere crypto trading.
We also have an opportunity to be the first company in the US to figure out compliant ways of offering swaps, futures, and other derivatives. These will help the US market evolve from the current one-sided market into a two-sided market that reduces volatility and provides more price discovery— the kinds of things that make our markets highly liquid in other asset classes.
Along the way, we will hire more engineering staff alongside our existing talented team to manage the increasing amount of technology that we will be operating in the future. We will also explore an external capital raise to give us the war chest we need to compete with the biggest players in the industry. We will continue to serve as a leading voice in crypto policy debates through our participation in the most important crypto trade associations like the Blockchain Association, the Chamber of Digital Commerce, and more. These initiatives will help us chart our own destiny as we grow Binance.US from a bootstrapped startup to a major industry player and influencer.
I believe we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create something truly special and influential. I can’t wait to continue meeting and learning from all of you as we build an iconic, enduring company.