Business Updates: Fervor Over Coinbase I.P.O. Spreads
Coinbase, a company that allows people and companies to buy and sell digital currencies, begins publicly trading today. Here’s the latest in business.,
Coinbase, a company that allows people and companies to buy and sell various digital currencies, begins publicly trading on Wednesday, after its shares received a reference price of $250 each on Tuesday evening.
Coinbase, which makes money through transaction fees, estimated it took in $1.8 billion in revenue in the first three months of the year as crypto prices have soared. On Wednesday, the fervor continued: Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency which started as a joke, jumped to a new high (albeit just 14 cents), and Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, climbed above $64,000 to its own record high.
Shares in blockchain-linked companies also rose in premarket trading. Riot Blockchain shares rose nearly 5 percent. Shares in Bit Digital, a Chinese bitcoin mining company, rose nearly 25 percent in premarket trading in the United States.
Global stocks crept higher on Wednesday as company earnings started to pour in. The S&P 500 was set to open 0.1 percent higher, futures indicated, after reaching a record high on Tuesday.
Shares in JPMorgan Chase dipped 0.4 percent in premarket trading after the bank reported its best first quarter on record, but said demand for loans was “challenged.” Shares in Goldman Sachs rose 0.3 percent in premarket trading after reporting investment banking revenue that beat analyst expectations.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index was 0.2 percent higher. One of the biggest gainers on the index was SAP, the German software company. Its shares rose 4 percent after the company said revenue from its cloud business was growing and upgraded its forecast for full year earnings.
Shares in easyJet, the low-cost airline, rose 3.6 percent after it said it expected to increase flights from May and reported earnings for the six months through March that were better than analysts expected.
Shares in Tesco, the large British grocer, fell as much as 4.4 percent after the company reported a 20 percent decline in pretax profit because of the extra cost of operating stores and warehouses safely during the pandemic. The grocer also said it expected sales to decline as pandemic restrictions ease, but that this would improve profit margins.
Elsewhere in markets
Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose 2 basis points, or 0.02 percentage points, to 1.63 percent.
Oil prices climbed higher. Futures for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose 1.6 percent to $61.10 a barrel.
Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange, is set to begin trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday — and probably at a much higher valuation than the $65 billion preliminary estimate set last night. Here’s what you need to know about crypto’s move into the mainstream.
Why Coinbase matters
The company is the first major crypto business to trade publicly in the U.S. Its size means that its stock is likely to be held by mainstream index funds, giving average investors (indirect) exposure to the world of crypto. “Hopefully Coinbase going public and having its direct listing is going to be viewed as kind of a landmark moment for the crypto space,” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, told Andrew in a CNBC interview.
It will instantly become a financial giant on Wall Street.
Even at $65 billion, Coinbase’s market value will exceed that of the stock exchanges its shares will trade on: Nasdaq’s market cap is $26 billion, while ICE, the parent company of the N.Y.S.E., is valued at $67 billion. And by the way, Goldman Sachs’s market value is $111 billion.
Coinbase is profitable, taking in $322 million last year — and an estimated $800 million in the first quarter this year alone. It also made significantly more revenue from trades (0.6 percent) than did the Nasdaq (0.009 percent) and ICE (0.011 percent).
But there are also giant risks.
Coinbase benefited hugely from a run-up in cryptocurrencies’ prices in recent months, and the company warned in its prospectus that its business was “substantially dependent on the prices of crypto assets and volume of transactions conducted on our platform.”
Skeptics think competition will eventually bring Coinbase’s fat margins down, though Mr. Armstrong asserted that he didn’t seen any sign of that happening yet. “Longer term, yes, I do think there could be fee compression, just like in every other asset class,” he told CNBC.
Digital currency, once mocked as a tool for criminals and reckless speculators, is sliding into the mainstream. On Wednesday, Coinbase, a start-up that allows people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, goes public on Nasdaq, marking the biggest step yet toward wider acceptance.
Each market frenzy seems crazier than the last. But all have the same roots.
A fast-growing market for digital art, ephemera and media is marrying the world’s taste for collectibles with cutting-edge technology.
As Coinbase prepares to be the first major cryptocurrency company to go public, it is struggling with basic customer service, users said.
An analysis of internal pay data at the San Francisco company Coinbase shows disparities that were much larger than those in the tech industry.
Toshiba announced on Wednesday the resignation of its top executive, Nobuaki Kurumatani, a move that comes as the Japanese conglomerate faces a potential buyout and a shareholder-initiated investigation into its management practices.
The board appointed Satoshi Tsunakawa — the current chairman and previous president — to replace Mr. Kurumatani, the company said in a brief statement. It did not explain the reason for the change.
Toshiba, once among the crown jewels of Japanese industry, a maker of products ranging from personal printers to railroad locomotives, has struggled in recent years, overshadowed by the legacy of a major accounting scandal and its acquisition of the American nuclear power company Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy in 2017.
Seeking to rebuild, Toshiba looked for a new leader from outside its own ranks, and in 2018 it appointed Mr. Kurumatani, an executive with CVC Capital Partners, a private equity company based in Europe, as chief executive. It was an unusual decision for a company that had long been headed by company insiders. Last year, he was appointed president, solidifying his control over the firm.
During a news conference Wednesday, board member Osamu Nagayama deflected questions about the resignation, saying that Mr. Kurumatani, 63, had been considering the move for months and had come to the decision with his family. Unusually, Mr. Kurumatani did not make an appearance, but in a letter that was read aloud to reporters, he said he had chosen to resign after “achieving my mission to rebuild the company.”
The announcement on Wednesday followed months of unrest at Toshiba as disgruntled shareholders agitated for reforms aimed at improving the company’s performance and increasing its value.
Toshiba investors tried to shake up the company’s management at the annual general meeting last summer. But Mr. Kurumatani was re-elected — albeit with less than 60 percent of the vote — following a showdown that angered some key shareholders and raised questions about whether the company had inappropriately interfered in the decision.
Effissimo Capital Management, a Singapore-based hedge fund that holds about 10 percent of the company and had led the campaign to unseat its management team, subsequently called for an investigation into the outcome. Other shareholders agreed, voting, over management’s objections, to begin an independent inquiry in March.
Earlier this month, Toshiba announced that it had received a buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners for a reported $20 billion, a substantial premium on the company’s share price. The offer has raised questions of conflict of interest, as Mr. Kurumatani had previously served as president of CVC’s Japan office.
In recent years, Japanese companies have increasingly been the focus of activist investors from abroad, who believe that sclerotic management and opaque governance practices have prevented many of Japan’s blue chip firms from achieving their full value.
Hisako Ueno contributed reporting.
Dozens of companies are suddenly paying more attention to individual investors.
Small investors who buy single stocks have not been a major force in financial markets for the better part of half a century. They were growing in influence before the pandemic, partly because of the popularity of free trading apps such as Robinhood.
But with millions of Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, the trading trend escalated, Matt Phillips reports for The New York Times.
“Retail trading now accounts for almost as much volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined,” Amelia Garnett, an executive at Goldman Sachs’s Global Markets Division, said on a recent podcast produced by the firm. “So, the retail impact is really meaningful right now.”
Tesla has long eschewed traditional communications with Wall Street. Ark Investment Management — the high-flying, tech-focused exchange-traded fund company run by the investor Cathie Wood — and Palantir Technologies, are also trying to reach small investors directly.
Before Lemonade, a company that sells insurance to consumers online, went public in July, it went on a traditional tour of Wall Street, meeting big investors and talking up its prospects. However, the company has since discovered that more than half of its shares are held by small investors, excluding insiders who own the stock, said Daniel Schreiber, its chief executive.
That has prompted a strategy adjustment. In addition to spending time communicating with analysts whose “buy” or “sell” ratings on the stock can move its price, Mr. Schreiber said, he has made a point of doing interviews on podcasts, websites and YouTube programs popular with retail investors.
“I think that they are, today, far more influential on, and command far more following in terms of stock buying or selling power than the mighty Goldman Sachs does,” Mr. Schreiber said. “And we’ve seen that in our own stock.”
The first woman to lead CBS News, Susan Zirinsky, is expected to announce that she is stepping down from the presidency of the network’s news division, possibly as soon as this week, a person with knowledge of the plan said on Tuesday. Ms. Zirinsky is expected to sign a production deal with the network’s parent company, ViacomCBS, to work on broadcast, cable and streaming programs, according to the person with knowledge of the details of her departure. Ms. Zirinsky, 69, was appointed in January 2019.
Epic Games, the video game developer that produced the hit game Fortnite, said Tuesday that it had raised $1 billion in funding, valuing the company at $28.7 billion. Sony, the creator of the PlayStation game console, invested $200 million, Epic said, and Appaloosa Management, Baillie Gifford and Fidelity Management were also among the investors. Epic’s most recent funding round came last summer, when it raised $1.78 billion to value the company at $17.3 billion. Sony invested $250 million at the time.
Two months after the storm crippled large swaths of Texas, insurers are sketching out a legal strategy to pin the costs on utilities and power companies that they say failed to adequately prepare for bitterly cold weather.
At stake could be more than $10 billion in insured losses for insurers and their business partners, as well as almost-certain premium increases for property owners if the insurers have to pay for the damage themselves, Mary Williams Walsh reports for The New York Times.
The insurers say the power companies and utilities failed to prepare for a major winter storm, even though past cold snaps and climate-change data had made the danger clear.
In 1989 and 2011, wintry weather caused so much damage that state and federal regulators spent months investigating the causes and issued detailed recommendations for hardening the electrical system against storms. “It doesn’t look like anybody did anything,” said Lawrence T. Bowman, a lawyer in Dallas who represents insurers in liability disputes.
But decades of deregulation have made the state’s power grid a dizzying web of companies that could make determining fault tricky. Insurers will also have to show that the damage was the result of “gross negligence.” And there are dozens of small companies in the supply chain — some of which have gone bankrupt since the storm — that interact with one another in myriad ways.