Billionaire Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong is one of the most influential people working in the cryptocurrency industry. In 2012, he co-founded Coinbase, a digital platform that helps users buy, sell, and store cryptocurrencies. In April 2021, Coinbase briefly reached a market capitalization of $100 billion, with over 35 million registered users. Before the inception of Coinbase, Armstrong was working with Airbnb as a software engineer. Previously, he also worked as a consultant at Deloitte, and co-founded an education company, UniversityTutor, which was later acquired. In 2018, Armstrong launched GiveCrypto.org, a nonprofit with the mission to financially empower people by distributing cryptocurrency globally. That same year, he signed the Giving Pledge, committing to give the majority of his wealth to charitable causes throughout his lifetime. In 2017, at age 34, Armstrong was ranked #10 on Fortune's 40 under 40 list. More recently, in 2021, Forbes named Armstrong #1 on its Crypto Rich List -- he has an estimated net worth of $6.5 billion as of February 2021.
Before Armstrong was one of the world's richest men, he was a typical college kid at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He lived on campus and enjoyed going to parties like most students. But early on, Armstrong showed a strong inclination towards entrepreneurial activities. Along with a former roommate, he started at least two businesses at Rice, including a business that matched tutors to students. During his junior year, Armstrong also spent four months as an intern at IBM in San Jose, California, where he designed Java-based tools for Network Attached Storage devices using his extensive knowledge of Java. In 2005 he earned a dual Bachelor's degree in economics and computer science. Enjoying his experience at Rice, Armstrong decided to stay a bit longer, and earned his Master of Science degree in computer science in 2006.
As a major leader in today's world of finance, Armstrong has established himself as one of Rice University's most successful alumni. He rarely speaks in public, but he has been a strong supporter of his alma mater. The sentiment has been returned, especially after Armstrong's Coinbase went public earlier this year, with many Rice University leaders reaching out to congratulate Armstrong through social networks such as Twitter.