Coinbase, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange, is going public on April 14. The company will trade under the ticker COIN and list 114,850,769 shares on the NASDAQ with an initial valuation of $100 billion.
Instead of following the traditional initial public offering (IPO) route, Coinbase plans to post its shares straight on the NASDAQ exchange via a direct listing, a technique pioneered by big names like Spotify and Palantir in recent years. Whereas an IPO involves a company creating new shares and having an underwriter that buys them for a set price and then sells them to the market, in a direct listing a company sells existing shares and has no underwriter.
But what is Coinbase and why is this such as important development in the cryptocurrency market?
The Coinbase business model
Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong, a former engineer at Airbnb, and Fred Ehrsam, who was a trader at Goldman Sachs. Their mission was to make investing and transacting in…