U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday, December 17, filed an application (form S-1) to register an offer of shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This was reported on the Coinbase blog.
It is unclear whether Coinbase intends to go public via an IPO or a direct listing. Coinbase first became aware of Coinbase’s preparations to go public in July 2020. According to Reuters, Coinbase is considering a direct listing rather than an IPO. Coinbase held its first „investor day“ in August 2020, which according to James McGurk, a former partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is often a precursor to a direct listing.
A direct listing allows existing shareholders to trade their shares on the open market without the company selling new shares itself. Direct listing has already been done by companies such as Slack and Spotify; it does not preclude a subsequent public offering.
According to a blog post by Andreessen Horowitz, a key investor in Coinbase, an IPO, as well as a direct listing, requires a Form S-1 filing.
In October 2018, Bitcoin System was valued at $8 billion. Given the rapid rise in bitcoin prices, Coinbase’s current valuation is expected to be much higher. Messari analysts value Coinbase at $28 billion.
The form filed by Coinbase is confidential – its contents will be published only three weeks before the so-called „road show,“ when the company holds a series of meetings with potential investors.