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Crypto float

Coinbase valued at $86bn in market debut

Bitcoin

The company helps to trade digital currencies like bitcoin

Coinbase shares closed at $328.28 after an impressive debut on Nasdaq , giving the cryptocurrency exchange an initial market cap of $85.8 billion, more than ten times its valuation three years ago.

The shares opened at $381 and leapt as high as $429.54, valuing the company at $112bn, before dropping back below the debut price and reaching a low of around $310. The price was still well above the pre-open – reference – price of $250.

San Francisco-based Coinbase is now worth more than traditional financial institutions such as HSBC, Barclays, and Standard Chartered.

Set up to simplify the purchase of bitcoin, the company side-stepped the normal IPO process and followed tech outfits such as Spotify, Slack and Palantir by not selling any shares before the listing.

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This allowed employees and existing shareholders to sell shares immediately at a market-based price.

It is the first time a major cryptocurrency business has joined a public market.

The company, founded in 2012, has emerged as the most popular crypto exchange in the US. It has 56 million users, up from 43 million at the end of 2020. In its last private financing round in 2018, investors valued the company at $8 billion.

The flotation coincides with record sums being injected into cryptocurrencies and tech investors seeking out high-growth stories. Digital currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum have seen their prices climb meteorically in the past year, rising over 800% and 1,300% respectively.

Revenue at Bitcoin for 2020 more than doubled to $1.28 billion, and the company swung from a loss in 2019 to a profit of $322.3m

Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s co-founder and CEO, formerly a software engineer at Airbnb, is now among the richest men in America. He owns 39.6 million shares.

Last August he was granted a performance award tied to the company’s stock price, potentially letting him purchase up to 9.29 million options at $23.46 over 10 years.

Speaking about the listing, chief financial officer Alesia Haas said in an interview: “It just brings this level of recognition that this is an industry that is here, that is growing, and that (is not just) in the corners.”



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