Updated Aug 21, 2018

CoinDesk's quietly profitable media business

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 1,506,936 — Total deaths: 90,057 — Total recoveries: 340,112Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 432,596 — Total deaths: 14,831 — Total recoveries: 24,235Map.
  3. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week.
  4. Federal government latest: President Trump is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy.
  5. Public health latest: Dr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  6. States latest: New York's coronavirus death toll hits record high for third straight day.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Your hydroxychloroquine questions answered.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Trump plans second coronavirus task force focused on the economy

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy, which has been battered by the coronavirus, two administration officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: There is growing energy within the West Wing to start easing people back to work by May 1. But some public health officials, including those on the coronavirus task force, have warned against doing so, raising concerns about reopening America too soon.

New York's coronavirus death toll hits record high for third straight day

799 people died from coronavirus in New York over the past 24 hours, a record high for the third straight day that brings the state's total death toll to 7,067.

Why it matters: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference that social distancing is helping to "flatten the curve" of coronavirus hospitalizations and that deaths are a lagging indicator. Still, he called the death figures "shocking and painful," noting that the virus has killed more than double the number of people who died in New York on 9/11.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health