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Coinbase’s crypto holdings jumped ninefold last year to over $300 million as bitcoin surged

Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive officer of Coinbase Inc.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Coinbase isn’t just enabling the trading of a bunch of bitcoin – it’s holding cryptocurrencies on its books.

In the company’s prospectus for public market investors filed on Thursday, Coinbase disclosed ownership of $316.1 million worth of crypto assets on its balance sheet as of Dec. 31, up ninefold from $33.9 million at the end of 2019.

Bitcoin surged in value by over 300% last year, while the digital currency ethereum jumped close to 500%, and they’ve both extended their rally to start 2021. While Coinbase makes most of its money by allowing investors to trade, store and borrow crypto assets, the company is also placing its own bets on the trajectory for the top digital currencies.

“Since our founding in 2012, Coinbase has held bitcoin and other crypto assets on our balance sheet — and we plan to maintain an investment in crypto assets as we believe strongly in the long-term potential of the cryptoeconomy,” Brett Tejpaul, Coinbase’s head of institutional coverage, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Investing in crypto assets required us to develop new investment, accounting, and tax policies, as well as ensure we established a control environment for purposes of receiving unqualified audit opinions on our financial statements.”

Coinbase’s disclosures, ahead of its upcoming direct listing on the Nasdaq, provided the first in-depth look into the company’s financials. Revenue more than doubled last year to $1.1 billion, and the company generated a profit of $322 million after losing over $30 million the prior year. Coinbase is poised to be one of the rare high-growth tech companies with higher revenue than operating expenses at the time of its public market debut.

Axios reported last week that Coinbase was valued at over $100 billion in a recent private market sale, designed to help establish a price for public investors. In a direct listing, companies allow existing investors to sell shares on the open market rather than selling new shares at a discount.

Coinbase’s crypto assets are equal to about 30% of the amount of cash and equivalents the company has on its balance sheet, up from just 6.2% at the end of 2019. Coinbase said that as of Dec. 31, bitcoin and ethereum made up 63% and 8% of total crypto assets held, respectively, exc