Happy Friday, everyone. Bitcoin is still trading above $21,000 as of Friday morning. If the price holds, it will cap off the best week for the crypto markets in recent memory and foster a sense of optimism that’s been sorely missing since the FTX catastrophe. It’s ironic then that one of the crypto industry’s brightest lights—the media outlet Coindesk—is on the block.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Coindesk has retained investment bankers at Lazard to broker a deal at a time when its parent company, DCG, is strapped for cash amid the insolvency of its trading arm Genesis. Several unnamed parties are reportedly kicking the tires at a price above $200 million—a fine figure but one much less than the $300 million price Coindesk was reportedly seeking in November when rumors of the sale first surfaced.
There’s no question Coindesk is a fine asset. The company has been producing quality journalism for years, culminating in a scoop that first exposed the rot at FTX and has rightfully led the publication to apply for a Pulitzer. It also has a robust crypto business and hosts Consensus, a marquee industry event that, in boom years, has been a ticket to print money.
Meanwhile, Coindesk isn’t the only crypto media asset up for grabs. The Block, another fine quality publication that has a strong research arm, is reportedly seeking a lifeline after it transpired that its boy CEO took investments from Sam Bankman-Fried as well as a personal loan for Bahamas real estate. The editorial staff at The Block appears to have been genuinely in the dark about all of this, so the brand’s journalistic reputation is not tainted. But a white knight could be hard to find given that FTX’s new caretaker CEO has been aggressively seeking to claw back the investments made by Sam Bankman-Fried—potentially making The Block a risky financial proposition for any new investor.
It’s unclear who the potential buyers for Coindesk might be. Few existing media companies have the resources to spend $200 million, especially at a time when crypto advertising and event revenues are dwindling. And those that do—Bloomberg and Dow Jones—have crypto journalism units of their own, and may be more inclined to build out their existing operations rather than buy.
In the worst case scenario, a hedge fund like Alden Global Capital—which has made a name buying and then destroying venerable American newspaper—swoops in to gut Coindesk for parts. Fortunately, a more likely scenario is a crypto billionaire seeks to buy the company as a plaything. Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson has already put his name forward, suggesting he would turn Coindesk into a “news and community site”—a development that would likely lead the publication’s journalists to revolt, in part because of Hoskinson’s reputation as a self-promoting fabulist.
The best outcome would be for The Block and Coindesk to be acquired by a crypto baron in the mold of Barry Silbert, the latter’s current owner who is not beloved but has a genuine respect for journalism and who has been admirably hands-off when it comes to editorial operations. But in the world of crypto, literally anything can happen so it’s truly anyone’s guess how this ends.
Jeff John Roberts
Nexo, which once offered U.S. consumers interest rates as high as 12% on their crypto, reached a $45M settlement with the SEC over its sale of unregistered securities. (Axios)
Global fintech funding fell sharply in 2022 from the previous year, dropping 50% in the U.S., though Africa saw an uptick in fintech deals. (TechCrunch)
National Australia Bank is the second of the country's major banks to launch a stablecoin, predicting it will be popular for overseas remittances as well as for carbon trading credits. (AFR)
FTX's new CEO is thinking of reviving the failed exchange in order to let customers recover funds and for the exchange to make money on trading fees. (Fortune)
Solana, once the hottest token in crypto until a brutal crash, is up a surprising 114% this year as the project attempts to shed its reputation as a "Sam-coin" tied to FTX. (Coindesk)
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