Surojit Chatterjee: Ex-Google exec's 2020 move to Coinbase worth Rs 5k cr

Topics Bitcoin | cryptocurrency

Surojit Chatterjee (left) with Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase
Even for Silicon Valley, Surojit Chatterjee’s rise to extraordinary wealth, amounting to nearly Rs 5,000 crore (or $646 million) was lightning fast.

The chief product officer has been with Coinbase Global Inc., the biggest U.S. crypto exchange, for just 15 months. The former Google executive’s Coinbase stake was worth about $180.8 million after its first volatile day of trading in New York on Wednesday. He’s also set to receive share options within the next five years that are currently worth about $465.5 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Chatterjee, who was 46 as of February and oversees product management and design, joins Coinbase founders Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam as major winners of the firm’s Nasdaq Inc. debut. Together, their stakes are worth more than $16 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The listing wasn’t without drama. Coinbase shares opened at $381, giving it a valuation of close to $100 billion. The price rose to almost $430 before retreating to close at $328.28. It’s another milestone though in putting crypto further into the mainstream. The company went public as Bitcoin -- which together with Ethereum made up most of its 2020 trading volume -- is trading around its all-time high. Bitcoin has more than doubled in price this year to about $64,000.

Instant Equity
Chatterjee’s Coinbase stake is a dramatic example of the instant equity employees can receive when joining startups. Gone are the days when equity was mainly distributed in tranches over many years, a reward for loyalty as well as performance.

Chatterjee joined Coinbase last February after three years at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, where he led the company’s shopping platform during his second stint at the search giant. He previously headed product and delivery for mobile search ads and AdSense before a brief stop at Indian e-commerce site Flipkart. 

Surojit, an IIT Kharagpur graduate, was the Head of Product at Flipkart, leading product management, user experience, product operations, and data science. Prior to Flipkart, Surojit was a founding member of Google’s mobile search ads product. His experience at the Bangalore-based company appealed to Armstrong.

“When someone has only lived, worked, or transacted in a country like the United States, it can be difficult to grasp the size of the opportunity in simplifying cross-border transactions,” Armstrong, who is Coinbase’s chief executive officer, wrote in blog post last year announcing Chatterjee’s appointment.

Other major investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management and Ribbit Capital. QueensBridge Venture Partners, an investment firm for rapper Nasir Jones, known as Nas, invested eight years ago and still holds a stake in the company that may now be worth more than $100 million, according to crypto news site CoinDesk.

($1 dollar = Rs 75.06)

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