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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday filed to go public via a direct listing. It includes a placeholder figure of $1 billion, but that's likely to change.

Why it matters: Coinbase could go public at a higher initial valuation than any other U.S. tech company since Facebook.

  • It was recently valued at over $100 billion via the latest in a series of secondary share sales, which were partially designed to help the company determine a reference price for its direct listing.
  • But, but, but: The initial secondary share sale, held Jan. 29, valued Coinbase at only $54 billion. In other words, good luck to those trying to determine a valid reference price.

Financials: Coinbase reports $322 million of profits on $1.28 billion in revenue for 2020, compared to a $30 million net loss on $534 million in revenue for 2019. That's right, this one can claim a more legit unicorn title because it's actually profitable.

  • It has more than $1 billion of cash on hand, which helps explain why it feels no pressure to do a traditional IPO.
  • It claimed to have $90 billion of crypto assets on its platform as of year-end 2020, which represented an 11.1% share of the total crypto market. Around 70% of that was Bitcoin.
  • Coinbase has been working to increase its non-investing revenue, via storage, lending and other subscription products. That alt revenue more than doubled to $44 million last year, but that still represented just 3.5% of total 2020 revenue.

Investors: Coinbase raised around $525 million in VC funding, most recently in late 2018 at an $8 billion valuation. Its largest outside shareholders are Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Ribbit Capital and Tiger Global.

Risk factor: Congress, if it doesn't confirm Gary Gensler as SEC chair next month.

  • Gensler is on record as calling Bitcoin "a modern form of gold," which means he views it as an asset instead of a security. That's very important for Coinbase, given its stated opposition to trading securities and its reliance on Bitcoin.
  • Were Gensler's nomination to fail, it might take a bite out of crypto confidence.

Worth noting: The company claims 2.8 million monthly transacting users, and a total of 43 million verified users.

The bottom line: Coinbase going public should help further legitimize the crypto industry, particularly among institutional investors.

Go deeper: Coinbase valued above $100 billion

Clarification: An earlier version of this story said the float would be $1 billion, rather than specifying that it's a placeholder figure.

Go deeper

16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Charter schools boomed during the pandemic

Expand chart
Data: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Map: Sara Wise/Axios

Charter schools picked off hundreds of thousands of public school students across the U.S. during the pandemic, according to a new analysis from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Why it matters: The pandemic has weakened America's public education system, as Zoom classes, teacher fatigue and student disengagement take their toll. And that hobbled system is shedding students to charter schools, private schools and homeschooling.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

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