Cryptocurrency exchange Bullish, led by former New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley, has acquired CoinDesk, a leading media company in the crypto sector.
The acquisition was an all-cash transaction for 100% of CoinDesk, with the financial details undisclosed. Digital Currency Group (DCG), CoinDesk’s former parent company, acquired it in 2016 for $500,000.
The acquisition comes amid a crucial time for CoinDesk, which faced challenges, including laying off 45% of its staff in August this year due to market declines and industry issues affecting DCG. The move follows a recent trend in the industry, with rival publication The Block being acquired by Foresight Ventures for $70 million.
Bullish plans to maintain CoinDesk’s operational independence, with the existing management team, led by CEO Kevin Worth, remaining in place. CoinDesk will operate as an independent subsidiary within Bullish. To ensure journalistic independence, an editorial committee chaired by Matt Murray, former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, will be established.
Barry Silbert, founder & CEO of DCG, expressed pride in CoinDesk’s growth over the last seven years, highlighting its multi-faceted global business. However, some critics, like Jason Yanowitz, founder of crypto news site Blockworks, raised concerns about the potential compromise of CoinDesk’s fairness as a media outlet covering a company it is now owned by.
Yanowitz likened it to “Binance buying CoinDesk,” suggesting a potential impact on the editorial integrity of the brand.
CoinDesk, known for its diverse business model covering media, events, and indexes, reported $50 million in revenue last year. The company gained attention for its critical reporting on financial discrepancies at FTX and Alameda Research in November 2022, leading to a surge in customer withdrawals and FTX’s eventual bankruptcy.
DCG faced financial challenges after the FTX collapse, with its lending subsidiary, Genesis Global Capital, filing for bankruptcy, and other subsidiaries like TradeBlock and the wealth-management unit HQ being shut down. Previous efforts to sell CoinDesk, including a near-final $125 million deal, fell through.