In a move that feels indicative of the continued erosion of... whatever we deem a normal workplace, Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S., has begun implementing an evaluation app called Dot Collector so that employees can provide feedback on each others’ performance in real-time.
As first reported by The Information, the app itself was developed by Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, founded by Ray Dalio, a billionaire who now seems to spend his time authoring books about finance and the pseudo-science behind success. Dot Collector was used at Bridgewater to foster, uh, “radical transparency,” and is sold by Principles, another company that Dalio founded.
While Coinbase has yet to implement the evaluation app across all of its lines of business, it is currently being used by the fully-remote company’s HR and IT teams. Ratings are fairly straightforward, as employees can give their peers a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or neutral review following an interaction.
The sterilization of the workplace — When thinking about a dystopic workplace you might imagine mass surveillance, limited autonomy, or a system that whittles down the people who come through it into molded employee archetypes — everything about 1984, a nightmarish world that immediately sticks out because of the jarring conditions. When played out in practice, however, the real dystopia is more subtle.
It’s a watered-down environment that has been removed of any kind of dissenting perspectives outside of the company in question’s guiding tenets or vision. Not to say that Coinbase is this technocratic prison, but some of Brian Armstrong’s (co-founder and CEO) leadership seems built on the idea of sterilizing the workplace. In the midst of the protests in 2020 that called for a change in the systemic inequalities that this country was founded on, he famously offered an exit package for anyone who was upset by the company’s dedication to remaining apolitical.
This desire to be siloed off from the real-world conditions that the company exists within is a stark contrast to the way most contemporary brands approach the cultural moment. The decision to begin testing Dot Collector was made during the first fiscal quarter, during which Coinbase experienced a hit to its userbase and revenue, as crypto itself was slumping.