Coinbase shuffles board ahead of rumored IPO, Marc Andreessen joins as observer

August 31, 2020, 2:00 PM UTC

Coinbase announced on Monday that prominent venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is joining its board, alongside Gokul Rajaram, who is an executive at DoorDash and a veteran of Google and Square.

The moves come amid chatter that the San Francisco–based cryptocurrency giant, which was valued at $8 billion in late 2018, is preparing to go public in coming months.

The addition of Andreessen, who is joining as a board observer, is notable. A founder of the eponymous VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, he was an early advocate for cryptocurrency, and has been a longtime adviser to Silicon Valley CEOs, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

“Since investing in 2013, I’ve seen Coinbase grow from an early stage startup into the most trusted and respected company in crypto,” said Andreessen in a statement. “Coinbase is the company that will help forge this future and bring crypto into the mainstream.”

The future of Coinbase, including any IPO, is likely to be a bellwether for the crypto industry as a whole. While the industry has grown enormously—the value of Bitcoin in circulation is now worth over $200 billion—and made inroads into traditional finance, crypto has not entirely shaken its outlaw reputation. In July, for instance, Bitcoin made international headlines when hackers hijacked the Twitter accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and others to solicit crypto donations.

Such incidents, however, may be declining in significance as more prominent individuals and institutions embrace cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain technology. One notable milestone came earlier this year when it was reported that JPMorgan Chase—whose CEO Jamie Dimon once called Bitcoin “a fraud”—is now supplying banking services to Coinbase.

Coinbase has been tight-lipped about the timing or nature of a future IPO, but many tech watchers expect it to follow Airbnb, Palantir, Slack, and a parade of other so-called unicorns—private companies valued at over $1 billion—which have recently gone public or filed to do so.

A source close to the company speculated that Coinbase could wait until mid-2021 to announce an IPO, in part because the company is exploring the use of blockchain-based tokens as part of the offering, and that it’s awaiting regulatory approval to do so. Coinbase declined to comment on the speculation.

To make room for Andreessen and Rajaram, who is joining the board as a director, two longtime board members are stepping down. They are Chris Dixon, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who has been part of the company for seven years, and Barry Schuler, a prominent Internet company executive. Coinbase says both will continue to advise the company.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied Airbnb and Palantir had already gone public. It has been updated to reflect they have filed to do so.

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