Coinbase Global Inc., the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, said it has filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public it what’s anticipated to be a break-through moment for the industry.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that it expects its draft registration filing to become effective after the SEC completes its review process. The company didn’t provide further details of its listing plans and a representative declined to comment beyond the announcement.
The company, started in 2012, has raised more than $500 million from backers that also include Andreessen Horowitz,
Y Combinator and Greylock Partners, according to its website. Coinbase said it has has more than 35 million verified users in more than 100 countries and more than $25 billion in assets on its platform.
Kyle Samani, co-founder of MultiCoin Capital, said he expects Coinbase going public to be a “huge event” for the industry.
“It is a watershed moment for the asset class, both as a form of legitimization, and by providing a way for investors to bet on the crypto industry without betting on a specific asset,” said Samani, who is an investor in Coinbase.
Bitcoin hit an all-time high Thursday of more than $23,000, and has more than doubled this year. PayPal Holdings Inc. has begun letting consumers use the cryptocurrency in transactions, and companies including Square Inc. and MicroStrategy Inc. have made Bitcoin investments, prompting speculations that more institutional investors will jump into cryptocurrencies.
One River Asset Management, a hedge fund specializing in volatility bets, has quietly bought $600 million worth of the digital currency, Bloomberg reported.
As cryptocurrency prices have risen, Coinbase has experienced performance issues this week, including connectivity problems and delays.
A Coinbase listing would be “a major exit for many early employees,” said Nic Carter, co-founder of crypto researcher Coin Metrics. Those employees would have liquidity for angel investments and the means to start their own startups, Carter said.
Several cryptocurrency-related companies, particularly exchanges, are already earning hundreds of millions or even billions in annual revenue, and more crypto startups are expected to go public or be acquired in the coming months.
Coinbase’s announcement comes at the end of the biggest year ever for initial public offerings on U.S. exchanges. Newly public companies have raised more than $175 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. IPOs reached an all-time high this month for December, with 63 companies raising more than $23 billion in new listings, the data show.