Coinbase has acquired Earn.com, a social network that lets people earn and spend Bitcoin, and has hired the startup’s CEO, Balaji Srinivasan, as its first-ever chief technology officer. Coinbase and Earn.com, formerly known as 21.co until rebranding late last year, did not disclose the terms of the deal.
The price tag was rumored, however, to be in the ballpark of $100 million—around the same amount 21.co raised during its last private funding round in 2015—according to recent reports by Coindesk, a cryptocurrency blog, and Axios, a media startup. “Everyone is aligning behind Coinbase as the winner of blockchain in the U.S.,” Srinivasan told Fortune.
He pointed to a string of Coinbase’s top-level hires as evidence of the trend: Asiff Hirji, formerly of Hewlett Packard and TD Ameritrade, as chief operations officer; LinkedIn’s Emilie Choi as vice president of corporate and business development; Twitter’s Tina Bhatnagar as vice president of operations and technology; and Facebook’s Rachael Horwitz as vice president of communications, to name a few. “As you’ve seen and continue to see, it has become a magnetic node,” Srinivasan said of his new employer.
“A lot of talented people are coming here.” Srinivasan’s number one priority in his new role as tech chief will be to add more stars to Coinbase’s ranks by recruiting top engineers, he said. His other priorities will include evangelizing cryptocurrency and blockchain technology as well as helping to set an internal tech strategy, which includes integrating and expanding Earn.com beyond its present incarnation as a paid email service.
“Balaji has become one of the most respected technologists in the crypto field and is considered one of the technology industry’s few true ‘originalists,’” said Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s cofounder and CEO, in a blog post announcing the news. He said that Coinbase would continue to run Earn, which he described as “arguably one of the earliest practical blockchain applications to achieve meaningful traction.” Coinbase and Earn.com are both backed by Andreessen Horowitz, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm where Srinivasan continues to serve as a board partner. Read more from fortune.com…
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