Apr 6, 2018

Coinbase is in talks to acquire Earn.com

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.

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