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Earn founder and CEO Balaji Srinivasan. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Digital currency exchange Coinbase is still in talks to acquire Earn.com, a paid inbox service formerly known as 21 inc., Axios has learned from multiple sources.

  • No done deal yet (or maybe ever), but current discussions are at a purchase price north of $100 million (plus management earn-outs) with Coinbase insisting that Earn founder and CEO Balaji Srinivasan come over as CTO.

Why it matters: As 21, the company helped raise the early profile of Bitcoin among Silicon Valley investors.

  • Andreessen Horowitz has stakes in both companies, and is said to have recused itself from board-level negotiations (although former A16Z partner Srinivasan remains a "board partner" with the firm).
  • Earn originally originally was developing chips and hardware for cryptocurrency mining. It has since pivoted to crypto-based messaging technology, which some believe could someday be used to accept/decline online advertising.
  • If the equity value ended at around $120 million it would basically be break-even for Earn's Series C investors, given stock preferences, but earlier backers will be easily in the black because of Earn's early cryptocurrency activities.
  • Keep that last point in mind when you think about valuations of other crypto-related companies like Ripple. Traditional equity is only part of the capital equation.

Coindesk last month reported early talks between the two companies.

Go deeper

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.

2 hours ago - World

Former Google CEO and others call for U.S.-China tech "bifurcation"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new set of proposals by a group of influential D.C. insiders and tech industry practitioners calling for a degree of "bifurcation" in the U.S. and Chinese tech sectors is circulating in the Biden administration. Axios has obtained a copy.

Why it matters: The idea of "decoupling" certain sectors of the U.S. and Chinese economies felt radical three years ago, when Trump's trade war brought the term into common parlance. But now the strategy has growing bipartisan and even industry support.