Olaf Carlson-Wee is an American entrepreneur best known for founding the cryptocurrency fund Polychain Capital. He was the first employee of Coinbase and was named in the Forbes 30 Under list in 2018.  He also featured in Fortune magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2018 and appeared as part of Forbes’ Blockchain 50 2022. 
Early Life & Education
Olaf Carlson-Wee grew up in rural Minnesota. Both of his parents were Lutheran ministers. 
He started studying Sociology at the Vassar College in 2008, where he wrote his thesis on Bitcoin and distributed networks and financial cryptography. 
When I was getting into Bitcoin, I didn’t have a clear view of how it would all play out. But I had an intuitive feeling that if we could rewrite the global economic and financial system with a software-based substrate that was run by an algorithm that nobody controlled, rather than by a central bank system, there would be a huge wealth transfer from traditional elites to those in the cryptocurrency sphere.
After graduating in 2012, he embarked on a year-long journey across the United States, staying at friends' homes and carefully considering his future career path. Ultimately, he was drawn to the emerging field of cryptocurrency and decided to pursue it as his vocation. 
Carlson-Wee started his career at Coinbase as the Head of Risk and Product Manager after securing his position as the company's first employee through a cold email in which he pitched his Bitcoin thesis.
I literally cold emailed jobs@coinbase and said, ‘I love bitcoin. Here’s my thesis. I’ll do any job’
Following a 20-minute Skype conversation with Ehrsam, Carlson-Wee was invited for an in-person interview with Coinbase's co-founder in San Francisco. Ehrsam requested Carlson-Wee to prepare two 15-minute presentations, one to demonstrate his expertise in a complex subject and the other to present his vision for Coinbase. During the interview, Carlson-Wee was asked to solve a math problem and was further questioned on his personal philosophy and opinions. 
After a four-day interval from the interview, Armstrong and Ehrsam offered Carlson-Wee a two-week paid work trial. As the sole customer support representative, Carlson-Wee assisted Coinbase's 250,000 users during his three-year tenure at the company, ultimately rising to the position of head of risk. 
In 2016, Carlson-Wee departed from Coinbase to establish Polychain Capital - one of the earliest cryptocurrency hedge funds that he launched from his San Francisco apartment. Forbes reports that the fund had overseen assets worth over $300 million and has secured investments from notable entities such as Ehrsam, Sequoia Capital, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Polychain Capital has made investments in blockchain startups including BitClout, a blockchain-based social network, and Celo, a blockchain payments startup. 
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