Bullish, a cryptocurrency exchange headed by former New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley, has acquired CoinDesk, a prominent media company in the crypto sector.
The deal, an all-cash transaction for 100% of CoinDesk, was finalized without disclosing the financial terms. Digital Currency Group (DCG), CoinDesk’s former parent company, acquired it in 2016 for $500,000.
This acquisition comes at a pivotal time for CoinDesk, which laid off 45% of its staff in August this year amid a precipitous decline in crypto markets and multiple industry debacles that swept up DCG. But it also follows just a week after rival publication The Block was acquired by Singapore-based Foresight Ventures at a valuation of $70 million. Both deals have occurred as prices have spiked in recent weeks, with bitcoin this month bounding to its highest levels since June 2022.
Bullish intends to maintain CoinDesk’s operational independence, with the current management team, led by CEO Kevin Worth, staying in place. CoinDesk is set to function as an independent subsidiary within Bullish. Additionally, to ensure journalistic independence, CoinDesk will establish an editorial committee chaired by Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal.
In a posting on X (formerly Twitter), Barry Silbert, founder & CEO of DCG, wrote that he was “incredibly proud of CoinDesk’s growth and development over the last seven years… The team has built a multi-faceted global business with tremendous future potential.”
1/ In 2016, @DCGco bought @CoinDesk for $500K, a small blog about bitcoin. Today we are thrilled to announce that CoinDesk was sold to @Bullish, making it one of our best investments of all timehttps://t.co/T8ac6uqZBj
— Barry Silbert (@BarrySilbert) November 20, 2023
But Jason Yanowitz, founder of crypto news site Blockworks, suggested in his own X post that the deal involving a company that CoinDesk covers could compromise CoinDesk’s fairness. “This is like Binance buying CoinDesk… It crushes the editorial integrity of the brand,” Yanowitz wrote, speculating that DCG had succumbed to financial pressure in selling to Bullish.
1/ The CoinDesk x Bullish acquisition is bad for our industry.
Some thoughts: pic.twitter.com/j0u64ZfhUQ
— Yano 🟪 (@JasonYanowitz) November 20, 2023
Unchained reached out to CoinDesk and Bullish for additional comment.
CoinDesk, with a diverse business model encompassing media, events and indexes, reported $50 million in revenue last year. The company’s critical reporting on financial discrepancies at FTX and Alameda Research in November 2022 led to a customer withdrawal surge and FTX’s eventual bankruptcy.
The sale of CoinDesk follows a turbulent period for DCG, which faced financial challenges after the FTX collapse. Genesis Global Capital, DCG’s lending subsidiary, filed for bankruptcy, and other subsidiaries like TradeBlock and the wealth-management unit HQ were shut down.
Earlier efforts to sell CoinDesk, including a near-final $125 million deal led by investor Matthew Roszak of Tally Capital and Peter Vessenes of Capital6, ultimately fell through.