Coinbase Finally Files IPO with SEC—Is Brian Armstrong a Capitalist or Cypherpunk?
The long-anticipated Coinbase Initial Public Offering (IPO) has finally been filed and now awaits the review and approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before the filing will be made public.
In a short blog post on its official website, Coinbase announced today that it has officially filed its draft registration of its IPO with the SEC. Per the blog:
“Coinbase Global, Inc. today announced that it has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). The Form S-1 is expected to become effective after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”
The news is huge for the crypto community, but it also causes further focus on the nature of Coinbase's CEO Brian Armstrong and his role in the evolution of the crypto world. With recent headlines reporting enforced apolitical stances, excessive government cooperation, and an eye firmly on profits - is Armstrong really a cypherpunk or just another cold-hearted capitalist?
How Cypherpunk is this IPO?
Coinbase Inc’s upcoming stock market listing was first reported as a rumor by Reuters on July 8. At the time, the story became almost impossible to avoid on Twitter and crypto news sites, and speculation was rampant on what effects the $8 billion US exchange’s listing will have on the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.
Coinbase was set up by Brian Armstrong in 2011, and is now the largest crypto exchange in North America and perhaps the most recognizable name associated with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The company’s stated goal is to create an open financial system and it mainly derives revenues from two sources: its operations as a crypto exchange catering to retail customers and institutional investors, and its custody business, which offers custodial services for cryptocurrencies to banks and institutions.
A cypherpunk is a person who uses encryption when accessing a computer network in order to ensure privacy, especially from government authorities. While an open-source financial system gels well with the original idea of the cypherpunk—cashing into Wall Street does not. The more exposure Armstrong appears to gain the more capitalist and uncaring he appears to be for the general plight of the crypto community.
As a name synonymous with Bitcoin and crypto in the US, Coinbase and Armstrong are fast being viewed as sell-outs of the crypto community which they ironically now represent. Members of the crypto sphere have also not been impressed with Armstrong and how perfectly cooperative with law enforcement and other officials in Washington D.C. Coinbase has become.
Armstrong the Legacy Capitalist
Armstrong's own stake in the Coinbase exchange is worth a reported $1.3 billion, and should the IPO go ahead, it will make him insanely rich, more so.
At the end of September this year, Armstrong shared a blog post declaring that the major US exchange employees should take an apolitical stance at work. After being slammed by members of the crypto community, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey—Coinbase employee’s who did not agree were offered attractive severance packages and an exodus of 60 employees ensued.
Bitcoin and crypto by their nature carry the theme of being anti-establishment, and is inherently political—to ban political ideologies and expression is counter to the Bitcoin crowd’s core and as Dorsey warned, “leaves people behind.” A clear point against the possibility of Armstrong being viewed as a cypherpunk but instead paints a picture of the Coinbase exchange CEO as a cold-hearted capitalist.
How will it Boost the Crypto-Sector?
Despite anyone’s opinion of Coinbase CEO Armstrong, why is this IPO a big deal?
Firstly, a stock market listing of Coinbase would bring a lot of mainstream investor attention to the cryptocurrency industry as a whole and focus mainstream financial analysts on the still overlooked and misunderstood sector.
A second major benefit is that the listing would allow the public to access the inner workings and to gain insight into one of the largest players in the crypto game.
The last main factor that may boost the crypto industry is that the listing will provide mainstream investors a safer and a more regulated inroad to the crypto sector. The boost to mainstream attention for cryptocurrencies and digital assets could trigger a wave of new investment, and spur further innovation for established financial markets and services.
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