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Former Carper staffer now campaigning for Bitcoin

Delaware native John Collins, a former campaign manager for Sen. Tom Carper, now heads up government affairs at Coinbase, a San Francisco-based Bitcoin wallet.

A Bitcoin key chain. (Photo by Flickr user BTC Keychain, used under a Creative Commons license)

John Collins has always had an interest in making government more effective and responsive. But now an interest in cryptocurrency has led him to a new career path.
“When I looked at digital currencies, really no one on Capitol Hill had done anything yet,” Collins said. “So we dug in in a really holistic way and charted out what is the government’s response to this. Are we working on this in a collaborative fashion? Is this a nurturing environment for people to build a business around it?”

(Courtesy of John Collins)

John Collins.

After receiving both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Delaware — in international relations and public administration, respectively — in 2009, he began working for Delaware’s Sen. Tom Carper in Washington, D.C., later serving as campaign manager for Carper’s 2012 reelection.
But earlier this month, Collins became head of government affairs at Coinbase — a San Francisco-based Bitcoin wallet and platform, which allows customers to make transactions with the digital currency.
Collins, who will remain in D.C., will work to educate officials on Capitol Hill, regulators and law enforcement officials about Bitcoin, which, in simplest terms, is a way to send value across the world for little or no fee, Collins said.
“I’m working on something I love, public policy, and furthering that education with policy makers. It’s the best of both world,” he said.
Coinbase, which was founded in 2012, raised $5 million in a Series A funding round led by Union Square Ventures in May 2013. That December, with eight employees, Coinbase raised $25 million in Series B funding through Andreessen Horowitz. Coinbase now employs 50 and interacts with 1.7 million users.
Collins said he is looking forward to working to educate policymakers about Coinbase and Bitcoin.
“We’re going to pull together a larger coalition of folks, not only in D.C., but in states leading the way in digital currency, and provide our research,” Collins said. “Coinbase has led the way in the space and we’re really being solutions oriented.”
A native of Delaware, Collins, 29, said he visits the First State frequently, and continues to be impressed with the growing technology sector in Wilmington.
“I lived on North Market Street back during the campaign, and even since 2012, the amount of development down there and the creative, innovative people — it’s very cool,” Collins said. “When you start having these larger cities that continue to get more expensive and gentrified, the creatives move out. There’s still space to build [in Delaware]. That’s Delaware’s real promise.”

Companies: Andreessen Horowitz / Union Square Ventures / University of Delaware

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