As Coinbase, one of the biggest cryptocurrency platforms, continues to mature and expand, it made a purchasing decision and bought Earn.com, a portal that allows people to make money by answering emails or completing other tasks. The companies have not revealed financial details of the deal, but the price tag was slightly over $100 million, according to people familiar with the deal. The payment was done in cash, some stock, and some crypto assets.
Founded in 2013, originally as 21.co, a hardware maker for bitcoin mining, the company rebranded itself as a social network in the fall of 2017. Now the company is a product and an app, Earn, which allows users pay the recipient (usually to send some promotional offers) if the recipient replies to their email. Initially, they offered pay-outs in dollars then, following popular trends closely, rebranded again to offer Bitcoins.
It’s not been always so. When Mr. Srinivasan came into the company it was failing capital commitments. Alongside CFO Lily Liu, Srinivasan refocused the company to offer a service that rewards users financially for answering emails. Today, the company is profitable again with hundreds of thousands of users that have earned digital currency with Earn, earning millions of dollars.
Following the deal, the Earn team wrote, “everything will continue as before in the short term, with one exception: we’ve put our token launch on the back burner and will instead focus on integrating with Coinbase’s infrastructure and scaling up our service.”
San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange has been actively hiring new talent this year. All of Coinbase’s previous acquisitions have centered around talent; for example, last week’s Cipher deal saw highly rated developer Peter Kim join the Coinbase ranks. One other big hire was Emilie Choi, who joined Coinbase this March to make new acquisitions. Coinbase has only done small hires in the past, and hiring Srinivasan is a much bigger bet for them.
It’s reported that the main appeal of this deal to Coinbase is Earn’s co-founder and CEO Balaji Srinivasan, a well-regarded former Andreessen Horowitz partner, who has become Coinbase’s new CTO.
Mr. Srinivasan is a Stanford graduate, holds a BS, MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Chemical Engineering, and sits on the board at power investor firm Andreessen Horowitz. He is known for being an early evangelist of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.
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