US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has plans to go to IPO as early as this year, Reuters reported. Coinbase could pursue the listing — which will need approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission — later this year or early 2021.
Founded in 2012, Coinbase has over 35 million users trading Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP, among others.
Why this matters: Cryptocurrencies are still considered experimental, volatile investments, and are surrounded in most countries by regulatory uncertainty or gaps. If this IPO goes through, it will give mainstream reassurance in the industry. It will be the first cryptocurrency exchange to go public.
Valuation: Coinbase is reportedly valued over at $8 billion, per Reuters. It has raised more than $540 million in funding till date, as per Crunchbase.
What stage is this at? The company has not yet registered its intention to go public with the SEC, according to Reuters, but it has been in conversation to hire investment banks and law firms.
The exchange is exploring going for a direct listing, Reuters reported, instead of a traditional IPO. Spotify was the first company to go for a direct listing in April 2018, followed by Slack roughly a year ago. In a conventional IPO, new shares are sold in the open market. In a direct listing, a company’s existing shareholders — usually early investors, employees, and founders — sell their existing shares directly to new investors. They are able to skip expenses around underwriting and roadshows. Direct listings work for companies that are already highly valued, and can pull investment with certainty.
Investor Day reportedly scheduled: Coinbase has scheduled its first-ever investor day for August 14, reported Coindesk. It will be an opportunity to “hear our perspective on the cryptoeconomy and learn about Coinbase’s role in the ecosystem”, a company spokerperson said.
Appointed new legal head: Coinbase on Thursday appointed former US magistrate judge Paul Grewal as chief legal officer. Grewal was serving as VP and deputy general counsel at Facebook before this. Grewal has “repeatedly encountered some of the largest and most complicated legal issues in tech”, the announcement said. He will lead the company’s work with financial regulators, help in the rollout of “innovative, regulated products and services, and support the company’s global growth and regulatory strategy”.
Sidenote: In May, Indian cryptocurrency exchange CoinDCX secured $2.5 million from Polychain Capital, with participation from Coinbase’s investment arm Coinbase Ventures.