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Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

CoinDesk is the hottest digital media startup that most people haven't heard of, generating around $20 million in revenue through the first seven months of 2018. It's also profitable.

The bottom line: Less than three years ago the business was sold for just $500,000, but that was before cryptocurrencies and blockchain went mainstream.

CoinDesk was born in May 2013 as the brainchild of entrepreneur and investor Shakil Khan, who had been interested in bitcoin and wanted a simple site to track news and pricing data about the cryptocurrency.

“When we first launched CoinDesk, the goal was simply to supply the market with accurate and reliable information on digital currency,” Khan tells Axios. “As the community increasingly looked to us for the latest industry developments and our perspective on them, building a media business around that based also on data and events felt very organic.”

Three years later Khan sold the company for just $500,000 to Barry Silbert's Digital Currency Group (DCG). At the time it had 10 full-time employees, 700,000 monthly readers, and had raised just under $2 million in seed funding from investors like DCG, 500 Startups and Science Inc.

  • Its revenue has since grown tenfold, with a significant portion coming from an expanding events business. Its annual Consensus conference had 8,500 attendees in 2018, up from 625 in its 2015 debut.
  • Consensus has been criticized by Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin (who also co-founded a different crypto-related publication in 2012) for being too expensive, and CoinDesk CEO Kevin Worth said he's working on ways to make it more accessible (while also arguing that many attendees pay much less than the price at the door).
  • CoinDesk's research arm, which grew out of its early bitcoin price reports, now also includes multiple reports and areas of focus.
  • Its news traffic, manned by a 25-person editorial staff, has grown to five million monthly unique visitors, according to Worth.
  • Last month it debuted a podcast called “Late Confirmation” with the University of Oxford as its initial sponsor, and CoinDesk also plans to premiere a live-streamed online video show this fall.

Yes, but: CoinDesk remains exposed to cryptocurrency's volatile cycles, including the recent fall in Bitcoin prices.

"Some of the traffic from [the Q4 2017] spike has dropped off as the market has cooled down, but a significant portion has remained as the growing interest level in the broader story about blockchain and crypto shows no signs of slowing down," Worth says.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
14 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

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