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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

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dispiriting housing boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

Updated 7 hours ago - World

China's COVID vaccines have low efficacy rates, official says

China Centers for Disease Control director Gao Fu at a March event in Beijing, China. Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's director said Saturday authorities are considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines because the country's domestically made doses "don't have very high protection rates," per AP.

Why it matters: The remarks by the Gao Fu at a news conference in the southwestern city of Chengdumark mark the first time a Chinese health official has spoken publicly about the low efficacy of vaccines made in China.

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