Fred Ehrsam: A Financial Wizard, Playboy, and Racist

Photo - Fred Ehrsam: A Financial Wizard, Playboy, and Racist
Frederick Ernest Ehrsam III: Likely the most enigmatic and controversial figure in the American crypto realm. Managing to become a holder of the titles "30 under 30 Changing the World" by TIME and Forbes' "$30 million under 30" in just two years is a feat achieved by few.
Typically, such individuals are constantly in the media spotlight, and their every move is known to the general public. With Freddy Ehrsam, it's precisely the opposite. Little is known about the 35-year-old co-founder of Coinbase, boasting a personal fortune of nearly $3 billion, apart from his professional accomplishments. It's hard to pinpoint why this is the case. Perhaps the answers lie in Fred Ehrsam's period of youth.

Early Life

The future co-founder and shareholder of Coinbase and the investment firm Paradigm was born in Boston and raised in Concord, a city in the state of Massachusetts. It's widely known about his penchant for video games: back in school, Fred became an advanced player in World of Warcraft. Allegedly, it was this game that introduced him to the concept of in-game currencies as a stand-in for digital money.

In 2010, Fred graduated with honors from Duke University in North Carolina. Ehrsam's chosen specialization was computer science with an emphasis on economics. He earned a bachelor's degree and was prepared to embark on a financial career.

During his university years, Fred became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon college fraternity. This organization has a long trail of scandals associated with alcoholism, legal violations, and more. But the most socially unacceptable aspect of its activity was a distinct racial bias and intolerance towards African Americans. Whether Fred Ehrsam still maintains ties with Sigma Alpha Epsilon remains unknown. However, it's evident that his fraternity membership had no negative repercussions on his subsequent professional endeavors.


After graduating from Duke University, the young bachelor took up a position as a currency broker at Goldman Sachs in New York. A young graduate from a provincial private university, having only a bachelor's degree, becomes a highly-paid employee of a globally renowned investment bank. Such a career start seems simply astounding.

It was at Goldman Sachs where Fred was introduced to Bitcoin: he began trading BTC in his free time.
Everything will be tokenized and connected by a blockchain one day,
Fred Ehrsam once said.
Around the same time, in 2012, on a Bitcoin subreddit, a key introduction between Fred Ehrsam and Brian Armstrong took place. This meeting significantly altered the cryptocurrency market landscape. The two decided to establish the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to allow enthusiasts to freely trade Bitcoin and other digital currencies. They started out in an apartment in San Francisco, with Ehrsam becoming the first president of Coinbase. Interestingly, Fred approached his alma mater, Duke University, with a request to invest in Coinbase's 2015 Series C, resulting in the investment growing a hundredfold.

In 2017, Fred Ehrsam officially left the company but retained a seat on its board of directors, holding onto a 8.9% share. In 2021, he joined the audit committee before the public offering of shares. It was conducted in the form of a direct listing, and the current capitalization of Coinbase Global, Inc. (COIN) stands at $16.96 billion.

However, there was one instance when Fred broke his rule of staying in the shadows. He became the prototype for one of the main characters in the novel "Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and onto Wall Street." Likely, the plot was based on another of Ehrsam's projects - the cryptocurrency venture company Paradigm, formed in partnership with Matt Huang (a former investor at Sequoia Capital). By 2020, it had made 28 investments in cryptocurrency-related businesses, and by the end of 2021, it had created the largest cryptocurrency venture fund at the time, surpassing the amounts that the "crypto investment behemoth" Andreessen Horowitz had managed to attract. The fund assembled by Fred and Matt raised a total of $2.5 billion for new crypto and Web3 projects.

Personal Life

Frederick Ernest Ehrsam III is single and has no children. There are no indications that Fred has a girlfriend. Nevertheless, according to multiple observations, it is believed that the financier's life isn't short of female company.

However, on traditionally romantic occasions, our protagonist prefers to spend time in the company of affluent white men. For instance, on March 8, 2023, his long-time Coinbase buddy, Brian Armstrong, caused a buzz by posting a photo of eight (symbolic, isn't it?) modern-day crypto kings. And of course, Fred was amongst them.

"Hosted a great "build back better" dinner in NY with some crypto company founders. This crypto industry has plenty of strong and compliant companies (even if the headlines would make one think otherwise). Doing the work year after year isn't always sexy, but it's important," stated Brian.