Coinbase files for direct listing after revenue more than doubles in 2020

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Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018.
Steve Jennings | Getty Images for TechCrunch

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday filed to become a public company and revealed that its revenue more than doubled last year.

According to the filing, Coinbase had net revenue of $1.14 billion in 2020, up from $483 million the previous year. The company also reported net income of $322 million for the year after posting a loss in 2019.

Additionally, Coinbase reported about $136 million in other revenue, which includes direct sales of crypto assets and interest income, pushing its total revenue for the year above $1.2 billion.

The company said it has 43 million verified users as of the end of 2020, with 2.8 million making monthly transactions. Trading in bitcoin and ethereum made up 56% of users’ trading volume, Coinbase said.

The company will use a direct listing to offer its shares instead of a traditional initial public offering.

A direct listing is an alternative to an IPO, and it involves investors and employees converting their ownership stakes into stock that’s listed on an exchange.

Founders have become increasingly disenchanted with the IPO process in recent years, leading to a boom in direct listings and special purpose acquisition vehicles. Streaming music giant Spotify also went public through a direct listing.

The move comes amid a boom in cryptocurrencies broadly, with bitcoin in particular gaining more acceptance among mainstream companies and investors. Large companies including Square and Tesla have been buying bitcoin in recent months.

Bitcoin was trading at just under $52,000 per coin on Thursday, according to coin metrics. The crypto asset had never traded above $20,000 prior to December.

Coinbase listed potential price declines in bitcoin as one of its risk factors.

“Our net revenue is substantially dependent on the prices of crypto assets and volume of transactions conducted on our platform. If such price or volume declines, our business, operating results, and financial condition would be adversely affected,” the filing said.

Coinbase’s stock would trade on the Nasdaq.

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