As Coinbase plans to pursue a direct listing on the stock market, which would see its existing shares be traded on American stock exchanges, the exchange has submitted an S-1 report with the SEC, which details all the relevant data that would help investors conduct due diligence on the company.
The document represents the first time that Coinbase publicly revealed sensitive details like revenue or ownership structure.
The filing reveals that the exchange posted a direct revenue of $1.1 billion in 2020, a significant increase from $482 million in 2019. About 96% of this revenue is derived from transaction fees charged to users, with the remainder coming from subscription services. A further $136 million revenue was generated from sales of Coinbase assets to fulfill over-the-counter transactions.
The company’s operating expenses are significant. In 2020, they totalled over $880 million, with the majority being due to research and development, sales, and general administrative expenses. However, $135 million of the total expense is labeled as “transaction expenses.” The prospectus explains that these consist of blockchain miner fees and transaction reversal costs, as well as staking and verification expenses.
It is worth noting that the company actually lost $46 million due to operations in 2019, as its revenue of $533 million was not enough to cover its $579 million in losses, primarily due to administrative and development costs. For 2020, its net income amounted to $327 million.
For 2020, it is interesting to note that institutional trading generated most of its volume, though retail participation was stronger in the last quarter of 2020 than in previous months.
Finally, the ownership structure of Coinbase shows that its CEO, Brian Armstrong, only holds 11% of the company, though he has a larger share of Class B shares, which hold governance power.
The filing shows that Marc Andreessen, general partner and co-founder of venture firm a16z, holds 24.6% of all Class A shares, which will be listed on stock markets. Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase and now general partner at Paradigm Capital, still holds 11.4% of Class A shares, as well as 9% of Class B stock. In total, executives and board directors individually hold over 53% of Class A shares and 54% of Class B shares.
The largest individual shareholder appears to be Andreessen and a16z, who is poised to benefit the most from Coinbase’s listing.