|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
|Key People||Brian Armstrong, CEO|
|Products||Bitcoin wallet and processor|
Coinbase, founded in June 2012, is a company that provides a platform for trading, storing and spending digital, or cryptocurrencies. Its stated goal is to create an "open financial system for the world" and help customers convert digital currencies into local currencies.
The firm operates a spot exchange called Coinbase Markets, which services the retail-focused trading found on Coinbase, and Coinbase Pro, which replaced Global Digital Assets Exchange (GDAX) in May 2018. The platform is aimed at retail, professional and institutional traders for bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin.
Coinbase became the blockchain industry’s first “unicorn” after it raised $100 million in August of 2017 and more than $217 million raised by July 2018, valuing the company at $1.6 billion.
The San Francisco-based company was founded by founded by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, a former Goldman Sachs trader. Coinbase is available in 32 countries and claims 20 million users and more than $150 billion in crypto currencies traded as of June 2018. 
Coinbase opened a Chicago office in May of 2018. Paul Bauerschmidt, a former CME Group and Eris Exchange executive, co-led the Chicago office. About a year later, in April 2019, Coinbase closed the Chicago office in a shift away from developing support for high-frequency trading. Bauerschmidt was among the 30 employees let go by the company.
In June 2012, Coinbase raised just over $160,000 with a goal of making bitcoin easy to use by anyone. In late 2012 and early 2013, the firm introduced a platform allowing users to buy and sell bitcoins by connecting to any U.S. bank. Growth on the platform quickly accelerated, hitting $1 million worth of bitcoins per month in Feburary 2013. At the time, the company had about 40,000 users and handled 30,000 transactions per month.
The company raised $600,000 in seed funding from investors including Y Combinator, IDG Ventures, Greg Kidd, Adam Draper, Funders Club and Gary Tan. The company received $5 million in funding from the venture capital firm Union Square Ventures in May of 2013 and $25 million from the venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Ribbit Capital in December 2013, the largest funding to date for a bitcoin-based company.
By the summer of 2013, Coinbase moved to encourage more retail acceptance of digital currencies by waiving processing fees for its services until a participating merchant hit $1 million in sales with the service. Service fees at the time were 1 percent for Coinbase and other similar services, while credit cards charged 3 percent. Many merchants and businesses such as: Expedia, Overstock.com and Dell joined Coinbase.
The company also moved to address security and regulatory concerns. It began offering what it calls "cold storage" of crypto currencies, holding those assets offline and in safe deposit boxes and vaults around the world. In December 2017, the firm began insuring all digital currencies held online, which was less than 2 percent of customer funds. The other 98 percent is held offline.
In January 2017, the company announced it has raised $75 million from DFJ, the New York Stock Exchange, owned by Intercontinental Exchange Group, USAA and existing investors, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and Ribbit Capital. Again, it was the largest funding round for a bitcoin-focused firm. Former Citgroup CEO Vikram Pandit and former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer also made personal investments into Coinbase. Coinbase followed that up with a $10.5 million investment by Mitsubishi UFJ.
It then announced another major funding round in August 2017, raising $100 million from Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, Draper Associates, Greylock Partners, Section 32 and Spark Capital.  
At the time, Armstrong said some of the funding would go toward building a new mobile application. And in August 2017, Coinbase introduced Toshi, its first mobile application for Ethereum, and the first external application outside of the main Coinbase wallet, trading platform, and GDAX.
Coinbase experienced an outage in December of 2017 when the platform went down under the weight of heavy traffic, leaving many of its more than 10 million customers unable to access their funds.
In January 2018 Coinbase' GDAX teamed up with Trading Technologies to give TT's clients the ability to trade futures and spot bitcoin side by side on TT's platform. The service went live in March 2018.  The companies said the new tools would increase the reach of GDAX’s platform.
The company announced the creation of the Coinbase Index Fund in March 2018, which allows investors to access the digital currencies listed on GDAX. The weighted index included: bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin. The product was set to launch in the spring of 2018 to accredited investors.
In June of 2018 the company began discussions with Japan's Financial Services Agency, seeking a license to open an office in Japan. Nao Kitazawa, a former investment banker at Morgan Stanley, will be the chief executive officer of the new branch.
In July 2018, Coinbase was granted approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to proceed with its plans to offer securitized cryptocurrency tokens. The company purchased Keystone Capital, a broker-dealer which operates an alternative trading system or ATS a month earlier, using that license to offer tokens that are securities.
Products and Services
The company provides an API that enables users to generate bitcoin wallets and addresses, buy/sell and send/receive bitcoin, securely store bitcoin, retrieve real-time or historical price information, receive notifications when payments arrive, and accept and request bitcoin payments as a merchant. Its platform also ensures the secure storage of bitcoins offline and distributes bitcoins geographically in safe deposit boxes and vaults worldwide.
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