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Coinbase execs sold $5 billion worth of shares after listing


Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase listed on the stock exchange less than a week ago, and the executives have made a fortune by selling roughly $5 billion worth of shares.

Coinbase CEO sells nearly $300 million worth of shares

Coinbase became one of the most valuable cryptocurrency companies this week after listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The company executives made a fortune for themselves after selling some of their shares worth nearly $5 billion.

The CEO, Brian Armstrong, sold 749,999 shares in three batches. According to the SEC filing on Friday, he sold the shares at prices ranging from $381 to $410.40 per for total proceeds of $291.8 million.

According to the filing, Armstrong sold only 1.5% of his stake as he currently controls billions of dollars worth of Coinbase shares. The lion’s share of the sales came from Coinbase director and venture capitalist Frederick Wilson parted with 4.70 million shares for proceeds of $1.82 billion.

Data from Capital Market Laboratories shows that insiders at Coinbase sold a total of 12,965,079 shares, totaling over $4.6 billion at COIN’s $344.38 per share Friday close. The surprising statistic came from CFO Alesia Haas, who sold 255,500 shares at a price of $388.73. The CFO sold 100% of her shares in Coinbase, but the filing shows that she retained the options. Furthermore, the CPO also sold 97% of his shares in the company a few days after it was listed on the stock exchange.

Software engineer and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is another Coinbase director that sold some of his shares. Andreessen Horowitz and two associated companies sold a total of 1.18 million shares for $449.2 million.

Coinbase insiders only sold 10% of their total shares

The news that Coinbase insiders sold nearly $5 billion of their shares created some negative rumors within the cryptocurrency space. Meltem Demirors of CoinShares clarified that the insiders sold less than 10% of their shares.

She tweeted

this is making the rounds and is so misleading – details matter!

each of these execs have tons of unvested options that account for the majority of their holdings – in reality they’ve each sold less than 10% of their total shares

— Meltem Demirors (@Melt_Dem) April 17, 2021

The crypto exchange went public via a direct listing and not via an initial public offering (IPO). A direct listing’s purpose is for shares to change hands from existing shareholders to new investors. Hence, the only way there is liquidity on that stock to be bought is by existing shareholders selling. Hence, the reason why the existing shareholders sold some of their stocks.

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