October 14, 2021
The auspiciously named Blockchain.com recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, which may as well be a century in crypto years. The U.K.-based private company has another reason to celebrate too: Its revenue just surpassed $1.5 billion year to date, according to vice chairman Nicolas Cary and chief executive Peter Smith, who shared the figure exclusively with Fortune.
When it came into existence in 2011, Blockchain consisted simply of a “block explorer,” a tool for, well, exploring the blockchain—that is, for tracking Bitcoin transactions. At the time, Bitcoin was the only blockchain around. In the spring of that year, the cryptocurrency passed the psychologically significant $1 threshold, and it would blow past $20 by summer. (Before collapsing down to near $2 in the first of many up-down cycles.)
Blockchain has seen—and weathered—a lot of tempests. Ben Reeves, a British programmer, built the business after undergoing the entrepreneurial version of a breakup with Brian Armstrong, now CEO and cofounder of Coinbase, America’s largest crypto exchange. Since those early days, Blockchain, now led by Smith, has expanded its services beyond the original block-surfer and, later, a popular, downloadable digital wallet feature, to include all sorts of offerings. Among them: a crypto brokerage, over-the-counter trading, credit and lending, and treasury management for crypto projects.
Blockchain is not as large as some rivals. Coinbase, that old flame, posted $2.23 billion in revenue in the second quarter alone, up from $1.8 billion in the first quarter, the company reported in August. Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, and FTX, a fast-growing competitor, aren’t (yet) public, but reports suggest their finances are similarly eye-watering. The industry has come a long way since the sub-dollar Bitcoin days.
Even if Blockchain isn’t the topmost crypto biz, it’s still big. The company is 300-people strong, Smith says, and it has 35 million verified customers while having dispensed 77 million digital wallets. Blockchain has done $1.1 trillion in transaction volume over the course of its lifetime—a sum Smith described as “mindboggling,” given how it “started as a small project.”
One reason for Blockchain’s staying power: Focus. The leadership team is hesitant to jump on fads. Bitcoin and Ethereum account for the vast majority of Blockchain’s revenue, upwards of 70%, Smith says. “Part of our long-term thinking is not to be the latest place to go trade a meme-coin,” Smith says. (The company’s digital wallets support 17 digital coins, including Litecoin, Stellar Lumens, USDCoin, and Tether, according to its website.)
Same goes for the latest craze of NFTs, or nonfungible tokens—blockchain-based digital collectibles that are trading online for billions of dollars in aggregate. While FTX.US, the American affiliate of FTX, just ginned up an NFT marketplace and Coinbase recently announced its intention to build one of its own, Blockchain is being a bit more circumspect. “We like to build things and then launch them rather than talk about things before we launch them,” Smith said, though he conceded that the company is “thinking a lot and working a lot on satisfying customer demand in NFTs.”
It’s not uncommon for companies to reveal internal financial numbers as they mature, especially when they’re seeking either late-stage capital raises or initial public offerings. Perhaps Blockchain has its sights set on such a stock market debut, following the lead of industry bellwether Coinbase in April. If so, Smith remains coy, saying only he “can’t comment on any public market plans.”
In March, Blockchain raised $300 million—for a total of $537 million raised to date—at a $5.2 billion private valuation. That’s roughly a tenth of Coinbase’s current market capitalization of $54.8 billion. But a lot can happen in short spans in cryptoland, where the years are decades, and the months are years.
Correction (10/15/21) 2:30 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story misstated Blockchain cofounder Nicolas Cary’s title. He is vice chairman, not president.