Coinbase Buys Earn.com and Brings Key Executive on Board

Earn.com CEO Balaji Srinivasan joins Coinbase as its first CTO

by Deyana Laguna
17 April • 2 min
In Markets

US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said on Monday it has bought blockchain application Earn.com. As part of the deal, Earn.com’s co-founder and CEO, Balaji Srinivasan, will join Coinbase as its first Chief Technology Officer (CTO), the exchange’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Armstrong, said in a blog post.

The financial terms of the transaction have not been revealed, but the price tag was rumored to be around USD 100 million. Srinivasan said in a separate blog post that “the total value of cash, cryptocurrency, and equity returned to our shareholders is now in excess of the capital invested in the company”. He added that Earn.com will continue to operate as a standalone business, but will work to scale its model across Coinbase's user base. Other members of Earn.com's team will also be integrated into Coinbase.

Formerly known as 21.co, Earn.com started out in 2013 as a bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer, which faced limited success as operational costs and 2014’s Bitcoin (BTC) price plunge weighed it down. The company rebranded in late 2017, becoming a cryptocurrency-based professional networking platform that allows users to earn digital money for replying to emails and completing tasks.

Coinbase described Earn.com as “one of the earliest practical blockchain applications to achieve meaningful traction”. The cryptocurrency exchange further pledged to keep the business running “because it’s showing a lot of promise and potential.”

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CTO appointment

Srinivasan is one of the well-known technologists in the crypto world. Before Earn.com, he was a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and CTO of genetic testing company Counsyl. He holds degrees in electrical engineering and chemical engineering from Stanford University and has taught data mining, stats, genomics and blockchain courses at his alma mater.

Commenting on the new CTO appointment, Armstrong said: “As CTO of Coinbase, Balaji will serve an important role as the technological evangelist for the company”.

Coinbase has recently announced a slew of talent acquisitions. In December, the company welcomed Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus to its board and hired Asiff Hirji, a former Hewlett Packard and TD Ameritrade executive, as Chief Operations Officer. In January, Coinbase appointed Twitter’s Tina Bhatnagar as Vice President of Operations and Technology. In March, the cryptocurrency exchange hired Eric Scro, a former New York Stock Exchange executive, to be its Vice President of finance. It also poached Emilie Choi from LinkedIn to lead new acquisitions and partnerships. Last week, Rachel Horowitz, former Facebook and Twitter communications director, also joined Coinbase as Vice President of Communications.

Seeking to consolidate its leading position in the US cryptocurrency market, Coinbase has also been bolstering its operations. On Friday, the company announced the acquisition of Cipher Browser, a mobile Web 3 decentralized applications (DApp) browser and wallet for the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain. Earlier this month, Coinbase also unveiled plans to create a venture fund to invest in early-stage crypto and blockchain startups. The Earn.com deal is the company’s fifth acquisition to date.