Cryptocurrency giant Coinbase is going public today. The new ticker COIN marks a watershed moment for the crypto industry at large, which has watched its total market capitalization top $2 trillion.
The highly-anticipated listing, set for Wednesday, established COIN at a reference price of $250. COIN quickly soared to $424 before dropping to $398. At time of writing, COIN is trading at $362.
In an interview with investor and software engineer Marc Andreessen, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong credits incubator YCombinator for jumpstarting the company in 2012 with an initial seed investment of $150,000 that allowed him to quit his job.
Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam points to crypto’s unique use cases as foundational elements of a transformational shift in finance and economic transactions.
“For years, we tried to fit the way the world works today into crypto as a new technology when the reality is crypto was fundamentally changing the way the world works and creating its own world …
You can pay for stuff online pretty okay already … The thing that has mattered over time are all the crazy innovations that crypto uniquely enables – things like DeFi where people are building new financial systems in a trustless way or NFTs where people are now able to own digital media in a way they never could. And I think that that will just continue to be true over time as crypto evolves like any technology.”
The San Francisco-based exchange opted out of the more traditional initial public offering for a direct listing. Armstrong tells Aaron Sorkin on CNBC’s Squawk Box why he believes this avenue was the best approach.
“For me personally I was excited about the direct listing because, number one, I wanted there to be a true market on day one that set the price, not something that was set behind closed doors, and a small number of participants got to buy in early, or something like that. I felt like [a direct listing] was more true to the ethos of crypto.”
With a customer base topping 56 million, Coinbase allows users to buy, sell and trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and over 40 altcoins.
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