Shares of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase hit the stock market for the first time Wednesday, opening at $381 to give the company a nearly $100 billion valuation.
Coinbase, a popular platform to buy and sell digital currencies such as Bitcoin, kicked off its initial public offering Wednesday on the Nasdaq composite and saw its share price skyrocket soon after launch.
Coinbase shares rose as high as $425 before settling near $400 shortly before 2 p.m., well above the reference price of $250 estimated Nasdaq before the stock offering.
Unlike typical IPOs, Coinbase directly listed shares of the company — which were held only by employees and private investors before Wednesday — allowing original shareholders to sell their stock instead of having a bank underwrite the offering.
Coinbase’s usership and activity have escalated substantially amid a surge of investment and interest in cryptocurrencies. The platform had 6.1 million users make transactions at least once a month in the first quarter of 2021, up from 2.8 million at the end of 2020, and saw revenue jump to $1.8 billion in the first three months of 2021 from $585.1 million in the final months of 2020.
The remarkable surge in Coinbase shares is the latest example of investors seeking lucrative new bets in the technology realm as shares of well established tech companies continue to soar.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 index and Nasdaq have cruised through record highs throughout 2021, far surpassing the peaks seen before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the market to crash.
Ultra-low interest rates, a surge of fiscal and monetary stimulus, and the proliferation of investment have helped fuel steady gains for the stock market and prompted concerns of overzealous speculation.