In brief

  • Coinbase went public today, debuting on Nasdaq at $381 per share.
  • It shot up to $424 before tumbling to $310, and ended the day at $328.
  • That’s still 31% higher than its reference price.

Coinbase wrapped its first day of public trading on Nasdaq with a share price of $328.

It’s down 14% from its debut at $381, but still up 31% from the reference price of $250.

The public debut of $COIN marks an important moment for the crypto industry. A product of the Y Combinator startup accelerator program, Coinbase is now the largest American crypto exchange, with a market capitalization of over $85 billion. It’s seen investments from the likes of Fred Wilson and Marc Andreessen, and played an important role in acquainting US retail traders with popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

But today’s listing is crypto’s biggest step yet into the mainstream. Tesla, Square, PayPal, Morgan Stanley, and BlackRock have all dabbled in Bitcoin-related investments and products over the past few months, but Coinbase’s valuation is spotlighting crypto in a big way. For context, Facebook went public with a valuation of $104 billion, and Uber was initially valued at around $82 billion.

The price of $COIN is also different from other buzzy tech stocks in that it’s tied to the performance of the crypto market. Coinbase makes money by taking a chunk of each transaction on its platform; the more trades there are, the better the exchange does. And when Bitcoin sends the market way up, as it has for the past few months, it tends to mean more volume for Coinbase.

Thanks to the current state of the market, Coinbase is coming off its best quarter ever—it made more in Q1 of 2021 than it did in all of 2020.