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News Bytes for April 30, 2018

Coinbase Internally Values Itself at $8 Billion, Sources Say

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has internally valued itself at approximately $8 billion, sources familiar with the company’s recent acquisition of paid messaging startup Earn.com say.

Miner One Successfully Launches Bitcoin-mining Balloon

Miner One successfully launched its bitcoin-mining balloon today. Space Miner One is a capsule and high-altitude balloon that will “perform data-mining operations at the edge of space”. Miner One’s goal is to “remind people that cryptocurrency is really about the future and the revolutionary technology at its heart: so-called blockchain technology.”
You can watch the launch on Facebook.

Unicef Australia Turns Computer Processing Power Into Cryptocurrency For Fundraising

With nearly 2,000 donors already, The Hopepage website uses some of your computer’s processing power to automatically generate funds for UNICEF Australia.

SEC Remains Cautious But Open To Cryptocurrency Fundraising

Underlining the need for cryptocurrency regulation, the SEC reminds investors to be cautions of ICOs. “If you want to know what our markets would look like with no securities regulation, what it would look like if the SEC didn’t do its job, the answer is the ICO market,” SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson said. However, the agency still remains open to a legal avenue for crypto-investments.

Bitcoin.com Fraud Lawsuit Gains Support From Over 1,000 People

The could-be lawsuit centers around the widely-held belief that Bitcoin.com has deliberately misled users into buying an altcoin instead of Bitcoin itself.

money

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has internally valued itself at approximately $8 billion, sources familiar with the company’s recent acquisition of paid messaging startup Earn.com say.

According to Recode, Coinbase assigned itself an $8 billion valuation in its offer to Earn, which included an equity package that distributed shares of the exchange operator’s common stock to Earn investors.

Coinbase has not discussed the terms of the Earn deal publicly, though Earn CEO Balaji Srinivasan said that, in addition to profits already distributed, the buyout had provided investors with a positive return on the more than $120 million they had invested in the company over the years.

In any case, the report indicates that Coinbase believes its value has exploded by several hundred percent in just a single calendar year.

Coinbase became the first “cryptocurrency unicorn” last summer when a funding round pegged its valuation at $1.6 billion. However, the company has experienced breakneck growth in the months since closing that investment round and reportedly brought in $1 billion in revenue during 2017.

This growth was largely — though not exclusively — due to a fourth-quarter cryptocurrency rally that was so pronounced that many exchanges paused new user registrations for months while they scrambled to scale up their internal operations.

According to the publication, brokers have approached existing Coinbase investors offering to buy their shares at prices that would value the company between $4.5 billion and $6 billion.

However, neither these offers nor Coinbase’s internal numbers are official, and Recode notes that the company may undergo a formal 409a valuation — which will be conducted by a third-party auditor — in the near future since it has recently acquired Earn and several other smaller startups.

Though best known for its cryptocurrency exchange and brokerage platforms, Coinbase has recently begun to branch out its product line. Earlier this year, the firm launched a cryptocurrency index fund for accredited investors, and more recently it announced its first venture capital fund.

Featured Image from Pixabay

wikileaks

The WikiLeaks Shop has been banned from Coinbase’s payment platform, the organization revealed on Friday.

“Coinbase has blocked the official @WikiLeaks shop from its platform without notice or explanation,” the organization wrote on its Twitter account. “You can continue to donate #Bitcoin to WikiLeaks at WikiLeaks.org/donate.”

WikiLeaks posted a screenshot of the email that Coinbase allegedly sent the non-profit organization, which publishes classified government documents provided by anonymous sources. In the email, Coinbase referenced the exchange operator and payment processor’s regulatory obligations as a money services business (MSB) that must remain compliant with FinCEN policies.

From the email:

“Upon careful review, we believe your account has engaged in prohibited use in violation of our Terms of Service and we regret to inform you that we can no longer provide you with access to our service. We respectfully request that you follow the on-screen instructions presented when you log into your Coinbase account to send any remaining balance offsite to an external address.”

WikiLeaks first began accepting bitcoin in 2010, after MasterCard, PayPal, and other payment processors began barring their customers from donating to the controversial organization.

The organization’s embrace of bitcoin provided the fledgling cryptocurrency with one of its first significant waves of mainstream media attention, and WikiLeaks now accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies, including zcash, monero, litecoin, and ethereum.

Despite the Coinbase ban, customers can continue to purchase items at the WikiLeaks Shop using CoinPayments.net’s payment processing tool, through which the store continues to accept bitcoin, as well as a number of altcoins.

WikiLeaks responded to the ban by calling for a “global blockade” of the company next week, arguing that its actions make it an “unfit member of the crypto community.”

Widely-respected bitcoin advocate and public speaker Andreas M. Antonopoulos tweeted that he was “disappointed with Coinbase” for shutting off access to the organization but said that he doesn’t hate them and won’t support a boycott.

“Coinbase is the most bitcoin-friendly bank there is,” he said. “Once you accept that they are a bank, it becomes easier to understand. If you need to use a bank, they’re it.”

Featured Image from Pixabay

bitcoin exchange

Today, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman initiated the Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative, a reality discovering investigation into the arrangements and practices of platforms utilized by purchasers to exchange virtual or “crypto” monetary forms like bitcoin and ether. As a component of a more extensive push to secure cryptographic money speculators and purchasers, the Attorney General’s office sent letters to thirteen noteworthy virtual cash exchanging platforms asking for key data on their activities, inside controls and defends to ensure client resources.

The attorney general is asking for data on the platforms’ activities, inside controls, and safeguards to ensure client resources, as per an announcement from Schneiderman’s office. “As the letters explain, the initiative seeks to increase transparency and accountability as it relates to the platforms retail investors rely on to trade virtual currency, and better inform enforcement agencies, investors, and consumers,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Platforms

The Investor Protection Bureau of the Office of the Attorney General sent letters to the following virtual currency trading platforms:

The initiative, in which the attorney general’s office sent letters to 13 virtual cash exchanging stages, tries to expand straightforwardness and responsibility as it identifies with the online offices that retail speculators depend on to exchange virtual money and better educate requirement offices, financial specialists, and shoppers.

Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative Questionnaire

The letters sent to the platforms include the questionnaire. It comprised of following sections:

  • Ownership and Control
  • Basic Operation and Fees
  • Trading Policies and procedures
  • Outages and Other Suspensions Of Trading
  • Internal Controls
  • Privacy and Money Laundering
  • Protection against Risks To Customer Funds
  • Written Materials

“With cryptocurrency on the rise, consumers in New York and across the country have a right to transparency and accountability when they invest their money. Yet too often, consumers don’t have the basic facts they need to assess the fairness, integrity, and security of these trading platforms,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Our Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative sets out to change that, promoting the accountability and transparency in the virtual currency marketplace that investors and consumers deserve.”

earn.com

Coinbase is quickly ramping up its merger and acquisition operations, as the cryptocurrency exchange and brokerage giant announced on Monday that it has completed its second acquisitions in as many weeks: bitcoin startup Earn.com.

The paid messaging platform — which was originally incarnated as a bitcoin mining startup called 21.co — rewards users with cryptocurrency for answering emails, filling out surveys, and completing other micro-tasks.

Terms of the deal were not made public, but Earn.com CEO Balaji S. Srinivasan wrote in a blog post that “the total value of cash, cryptocurrency, and equity returned to our shareholders is now in excess of the capital invested in the company.”

The company had raised approximately $116 million over multiple funding rounds and at one point was the industry’s best-funded startup. Sources close to the discussions had previously said that the deal would likely exceed that figure, and this comment suggests that it was at least in the same ballpark.

Srinivasan will join Coinbase as a senior executive, becoming the company’s first chief technology officer, while the rest of the Earn.com team will also join the firm and work to integrate the company’s paid messaging platform into Coinbase’s infrastructure.

“If we’re successful in our long-term goals, we will be able to turn the billions of smartphones worldwide into a new source of work. Open the Earn.com app in any country — and receive a personalized, targeted list of paid microtasks and emails just for you,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Thanks to the blockchain, anywhere there’s a phone, there’s a job.”

The acquisition was the second announced by Coinbase in April alone.

As BlockExplorer reported, Coinbase announced last week that it had acquired Cipher Browser, a one-man startup that had built a mobile ethereum wallet and decentralized application (DApp) browser. Cipher’s developer, Peter Kim, joined the company as the engineering team lead for Toshi, Coinbase’s ethereum wallet and DApp browser.

Featured Image from Earn.com/Twitter