Digital currency exchange Coinbase has reportedly approached Goldman Sachs to lead its upcoming initial public offering — a move that could bolster the appeal of cryptocurrencies to a broader mainstream audience.
Coinbase has for years been linked to Goldman Sachs through Fred Ehrsam, the exchange’s co-founder who previously worked at the bank as a trader. Business Insider reports that Ehrsam worked at Goldman between 2010 and 2012 before quitting to establish Coinbase with current CEO Brian Armstrong.
Ehrsam left the exchange in 2017 but maintains a board position.
The report surfaced a day after Coinbase confirmed its intent to go public in a draft registration sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Based on its latest valuation in 2018, Coinbase was worth $8 billion. Crypto analytics company Messari says Coinbase could be valued at $28 billion after its public offering.
Coinbase is the preferred exchange of many newcomers to the digital currency space. The platform has also raked in billions of dollars in institutional capital since the spring, which broadly coincides with the arrival of so-called smart money.
Institutional investors have likely been the primary catalyst behind Bitcoin’s (BTC) record-breaking rally thus far. The flagship cryptocurrency catapulted toward $24,000 on Thursday en route to new highs.
With crypto valuations rising to their highest levels since early 2018, Coinbase is launching its IPO at an opportune time in the market’s evolution. Rumors of a Coinbase public offering have been circulating for some time, though plans were never formalized until this week.
Like other financial institutions, Goldman Sachs is much more open to the idea of cryptocurrencies than it was a few years ago. The company recently appointed a global head of digital assets and is planning to use JPMorgan’s blockchain for overnight repo agreements.
On Friday, the investment bank told its clients that Bitcoin and gold can coexist under the same macro hedge strategy. Although the bank said Bitcoin’s popularity isn’t an “existential threat to gold’s status as the currency of last resort,” it admitted there is “some substitution occurring.”