Founded in June 2012, Coinbase is a San Francisco-based company offering several trading platforms designed to help institutions and consumers transact with digital currencies. Coinbase came to prominence after developing one of the first well-designed Bitcoin wallets to enter the crypto scene. During the height of the 2017 crypto mania, it was said to be signing up more than 50,000 new customers a day. Coinbase was the first US cryptocurrency startup to earn a $1 billion 'unicorn' valuation from investors, and the first to bring in $1 billion in annual revenue.
In 2017/2018, Coinbase expanded its core products and offerings. The range of products includes Coinbase, a place to buy, sell, and manage cryptocurrency portfolios for consumers; Coinbase Pro, a trading platform for advanced traders; Prime, a professional trading platform for institutional clients; Coinbase Custody, asset custody specifically for institutions; Coinbase commerce, allowing for digital payment in retail; and an API for developers and merchants to build applications and accept payments in both digital currencies.
The exchange received approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services to form a qualified custodial firm for cryptocurrencies in late October 2018. In November of the same year, it opened an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk for its Coinbase Prime customers, i.e. financial institutions looking to trade with business funds.
Coinbase also expanded its operations through a number of acquisitions. In April 2018, it acquired Earn.com, a service allowing customers to contact highly targeted individuals or audiences in exchange for payment, or to earn money by allowing people to contact them. One month later it acquired Paradex, a platform for trading tokens directly from crypto wallets without fees. Other companies that joined the Coinbase fold that year include Keystone Capital Corp, Digital Wealth, Venovate, and Distributed Systems.
The company was founded by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. Brian was formerly a software engineer at Airbnb and spent eight years creating universitytutor.com, a platform connecting people with local and online tutors. He also briefly worked in positions at Deloitte and Touche and IBM. Fred graduated with distinction from Duke University, earning a B.S. in computer science with a minor in economics. After graduating he worked at Goldman Sachs on the foreign exchange trading desk and then at BlackRock as a portfolio analyst. He has now transitioned away from day-to-day operations at Coinbase to focus on building blockchain-based apps but remains an active member of the company's board of directors.
Coinbase has raised over $217 million from some of the world's best-known investors including Andreessen Horowitz, USV, DFJ Growth, IC, MUFG, BBVA, and many more.
In October 2018, it announced an additional $300 million of investment at a valuation of over $8 billion to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. The Series E equity round was led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Y Combinator Continuity, Wellington Management, Andreessen Horowitz, Polychain, and others.Read More