In brief

  • Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said the exchange is developing a token launch platform.
  • The planned platform will allow startups to launch their own tokens.
  • Coinbase will work with startups on technical and governance issues, too.

Last year’s speculative comments have become a reality: cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase really is working on a platform that will allow startups to launch their own token via initial exchange offerings (IEO).

CEO Brian Armstrong confirmed the plans during a podcast interview with O'Shaughnessy Asset Management CEO Patrick O’Shaughnessy, with a transcript noting that the service could be called “Coinbase Launch”—although that’s not set in stone just yet.

“We're working on a product, we'll probably call it Coinbase Launch or something like that,” said Armstrong, “but it's a way for anybody who wants to do a crypto startup to come in and say, ‘All right, I want to issue a token. Maybe I want to raise money. Maybe I just want to use it to build my community.’”

“[We’ll] just hand-hold people through that process and help them with the custody of it, help them create the smart contract, help them with the governance issues, [and the] vesting of these things if you need to distribute those to employees,” he added.

Essentially, Coinbase would build the platform to launch tokens, but it wouldn’t be hands-off like Kickstarter: the exchange would help with the step-by-step process of functionally executing on those plans. Seeing a token launch with the Coinbase stamp of approval could ease the minds of some potential investors, versus it launching on a lesser-known platform.

Armstrong went on to liken the planned platform to a combination of startup toolkit Stripe Atlas and startup job/investment site AngelList, adding, “I don't know what exactly the analogy would be, but that could be a huge unlock for the crypto economy as well, to get a thousand new startups built like that.”

However, he did not comment on when we might see Coinbase Launch (or whatever it is ultimately called) go live.

Coinbase’s Asia Head of Institutional Sales, Kayvon Pirestani, was the first to comment on the potential for such a platform in September 2019, telling CoinDesk that it would be a “really interesting opportunity” and that the company was “carefully exploring” such plans.