A company run by former New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley said on Monday that it has acquired crypto-focused media company CoinDesk.
Bullish, the crypto exchange run by Farley, bought 100% of CoinDesk in an all-cash deal. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Digital Currency Group, the parent company of CoinDesk, acquired the media company in 2016 for $500,000.
The deal comes a year after CoinDesk broke news about Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire that would ripple through the market and compound the financial troubles of its parent company.
Bullish said that CoinDesk’s current management team, led by chief executive Kevin Worth, will stay in place and that the publication will operate as an independent subsidiary within Bullish.
CoinDesk will launch an editorial committee to ensure journalistic independence, CoinDesk said. Matt Murray, the former editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, will serve as chair of its editorial committee, the media company said.
Launched in November 2021, Bullish is backed by prominent investors including Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon. Farley, its CEO, was president of the NYSE from 2014 to 2018. Last year, Bullish called off a $9 billion deal to go public via a merger with a blank-check company.
Bullish is also one of the three suitors vying to buy the remnants of FTX, as the auction for the collapsed crypto exchange reaches its final stages. The winner could restart the exchange after its planned exit from bankruptcy next year.
CoinDesk has three lines of business, including media, events and indexes. The company generated $50 million in revenue last year.
“We believe that there is a rebound of the digital assets industry that has already begun,” Farley said in an interview. “Some of CoinDesk’s products and services are just darn good businesses that we want to own in a crypto bull run.”
Bullish is “willing to invest a lot of money” in the growth of CoinDesk, Farley said. For example, the exchange can help CoinDesk bring its conference business to Asia where Bullish has deep roots in Hong Kong and Singapore, he said.
An earlier deal to purchase CoinDesk fell through. A syndicate of investors was in the final stages of sealing an approximate $125 million deal for CoinDesk, the Journal reported in July. The investor group was led by Matthew Roszak of Tally Capital, a private investment firm focused on crypto and blockchain-based technologies, and Peter Vessenes of Capital6, a venture-capital firm and family office.
In November 2022, CoinDesk published an article with leaked financials from FTX founder Bankman-Fried’s hedge fund Alameda Research. The report sparked concerns about the close financial ties between Alameda and FTX, eventually prompting a rush of customer withdrawals that plunged the crypto exchange into bankruptcy.
As part of the broader fallout in the crypto industry after FTX’s collapse, CoinDesk’s parent company DCG became ensnared by its own financial troubles. DCG’s lending subsidiary Genesis Global Capital filed for bankruptcy after rounds of layoffs. Its institutional-trading platform TradeBlock and wealth-management unit HQ closed shop.
In January, CoinDesk tapped investment bankers at Lazard to help it explore options including a partial or full sale. In August, the company laid off 16% of its internal staff.
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