Coinbase gets $250 reference price ahead of market debut

Coinbase snagged a reference price of $250 a share ahead of its watershed stock-market debut on Wednesday.

The price set by the Nasdaq stock exchange would give the major cryptocurrency exchange a valuation of about $65 billion, according to reports — roughly eight times the $8 billion price tag it received in its last private fundraising round in 2018.

It would also put Coinbase on par with New York Stock Exchange parent company Intercontinental Exchange, which was worth about $67 billion as of Tuesday’s closing bell.

Coinbase’s arrival on the public market is considered a major milestone for cryptocurrency’s push into the mainstream financial world.

The company’s direct listing — in which a firm sells existing shares rather than issuing new ones through a traditional initial public offering — followed moves by corporate giants like Mastercard, Tesla, and PayPal to embrace cryptocurrency as an investment asset and payment method.

Brian Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase.
Brian Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Coinbase’s valuation could surge even further once it actually starts trading on the Nasdaq, with some Wall Street analysts predicting it will hit $100 billion based on what its shares have gone for on the private market.

Fred Ehrsam is a co-founder of Coinbase.
Fred Ehrsam is a co-founder of Coinbase.
Tammy Perez/Getty Images for SXSW

But that valuation would set profit expectations that Coinbase has “little-to-no-chance of meeting” in an increasingly competitive crypto market, according to David Trainer of investment-research firm New Constructs.

“The crypto markets are very young and we expect many more companies to compete for the profits Coinbase enjoys today,” Trainer said in a recent commentary.

Nasdaq set Coinbase’s reference price Tuesday as a benchmark for the stock’s performance in its first day on the exchange. The actual opening price will be determined based on buy and sell orders for the shares in the opening auction, Nasdaq says.

Other major companies that have gone through direct listings in recent years — such as Spotify, Roblox and Palantir — saw their share prices open an average of 37 percent higher than the reference price, CNBC reported. If Coinbase matches that performance, its stock would climb to about $343 in early trades.

With Post wires