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Crypto Initial Public Offerings (IPOs): A Beginner’s Guide 

Last Updated January 25, 2024 1:12 PM
Andrew Kamsky
Last Updated January 25, 2024 1:12 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Crypto IPOs focus on blockchain companies, offering unique market opportunities that face evolving regulatory landscapes and market volatility.
  • Key ratios like Price-to-Sales, NAV per Share, and Current Ratio are helpful when assessing a crypto company’s financial stability and growth potential.
  • Comprehensive legal and financial analysis is essential work that needs to be carried out before investing in a crypto IPO and includes understanding strategy, market standing, and regulatory compliance.
  • Despite risks, crypto IPOs present high growth opportunities in innovative technology, requiring balanced risk assessment and careful research.

Crypto IPOs, or Initial Public Offerings, refer to the process when a cryptocurrency or blockchain-based company offers its private shares to the public for the first time. 

What Are Crypto IPOs

Crypto IPOs are similar to traditional company IPOs that go public on the American stock market, yet crypto IPOs are somewhat different and have particular characteristics:

Blockchain Companies Going Public

Crypto companies that typically launch crypto IPOs are those involved in blockchain technology, cryptocurrency exchanges, crypto mining operations, or other crypto-related services to industry sectors involving hardware manufacturing.

Regulatory Landscape

The regulatory environment for crypto IPOs can be more complex or uncertain than traditional IPOs. A crypto IPO often involves both stringent financial regulations and instances to deal with a continuously changing legal framework that is still adapting to the crypto space.

Volatility And Risk

Investing in crypto IPOs can be riskier than traditional IPOs, given the inherent volatility risk associated with the crypto market. The novelty behind the technology, while attractive to potential speculators and investors, also comes with a healthy dose of regulatory uncertainties.

Historical Crypto IPOs

Over the last few years, three prominent examples of blockchain or crypto-related companies that have gone public through an IPO include:

Coinbase (Exchange)

One of the most high-profile examples, Coinbase, a leading cryptocurrency exchange platform, went public in April 2021 through a direct listing on the NASDAQ. It was one of the first major crypto exchanges to go public, marking this crypto IPO as a significant milestone in the crypto industry’s journey toward mainstream acceptance.

Coinbase Share Price
Coinbase Share Price

Canaan (Hardware For Bitcoin Mining)

A company specializing in Bitcoin mining is the leading provider of supercomputing solutions of ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) mining hardware. Canaan went public on the NASDAQ in November 2019, offering investors an opportunity to gain exposure to the hardware side of the cryptocurrency mining industry.

Canaan Share Price
Canaan Share Price

Steps Involved In Choosing Crypto IPO For Investment

Step 1: Research Project

Once investors decide to speculate in the crypto industry, they should thoroughly research the crypto project’s background. Research includes understanding the company’s history, the team behind it, its mission, and its market position in the crypto market. 

The investor should evaluate the business model and assess the company’s unique value proposition versus the competition. Step one intends to pick a reputable company with a strong case for growth and longevity needed by the crypto market.

Step 2: Assess Financials Of Crypto Company

When evaluating a crypto company’s financial health, the investor must carry out financial due diligence before choosing a company to invest in. Assessing the company’s financial health involves the examination of the company’s financial statements, focusing on profitability, liquidity, and solvency ratios. 

Three ratios that investors can use:

  • Price-to-Sales (P/S) Ratio: A ratio that compares the company’s stock price to its revenue. It’s useful for evaluating companies that may not be profitable yet but have significant revenue streams. The P/S ratio can provide insights into how the market values each dollar of the company’s sales.
  • Net Asset Value (NAV) Per Share: This ratio calculates the company’s total assets minus its liabilities by the total number of shares. For an IPO, this gives an idea of the company’s underlying value and can be compared to the IPO price to assess whether the shares are valued fairly.
  • Current Ratio: This liquidity ratio, calculated as existing assets divided by current liabilities, indicates the company’s ability to pay short-term obligations. A higher current ratio suggests the company has good short-term financial health, which is crucial for a new public entity facing market uncertainties.

Step 3: Due Diligence

Due diligence is an entire step where investors must take a deeper dive into the company’s legal standing, regulatory compliance, and any potential legal risks that may threaten the company’s life in the future, besides researching the company’s financials, market reputation, and any past legal issues. 

The investor should assess and understand how the company plans to use the funds raised and execute a unique strategy to capture growth and scalability.

Step 4: Risk Assessment

The final step the investor should take is to assess the investment’s risk profile. Understanding the nature of the company and its inherent volatility to the crypto market, the specific risks associated with the project, and how the company aligns with the investor’s investment goals and risk tolerance. 

Considering market trends, competitive landscape, technological risks, and the potential for regulatory changes. An informed risk assessment will help the investor make a balanced investment decision.

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) Vs. Traditional IPOs

Understanding the differences between initial coin offerings (ICOs) and traditional IPOs is helpful for crypto investors and speculators. Both are funding mechanisms that operate under different models regarding funding methods, regulatory oversight, and ownership rights.

Funding Method

ICOs typically involve the sale of digital tokens to investors, often to raise capital for a new cryptocurrency or blockchain project, in contrast with traditional IPOs, where companies sell shares of stock to the public to raise equity capital. 

ICOs tend to be faster and more accessible to a global pool of investors but are often riskier due to their inherent speculative nature.

Regulatory Oversight

IPOs are heavily regulated by financial authorities like the Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC)  in the United States, requiring strict disclosure and compliance standards. 

In contrast, ICOs have historically operated with less regulatory oversight, leading to a higher risk of fraud and market manipulation.

Ownership Rights

An IPO gives investors ownership stakes, usually including voting rights and dividends. 

On the other hand, ICO tokens may not directly result in ownership rights of any kind; Instead, they offer utility within a project’s ecosystem or, in some cases, future profit sharing, but without the traditional rights associated with equity ownership.

Benefits of Crypto IPOs

Global Investor Access

Crypto IPOs can attract a global pool of investors, not limited by geographic boundaries. With a broader reach for investors, more significant capital inflow and diversity can be achieved for the company.

Innovation And High Growth Potential

Investing in a crypto IPO often means investing in cutting-edge blockchain technology, which can promise significant growth potential due to the innovative nature of the sector.

Enhanced Transparency And Immutability

Crypto IPOs, operating on blockchain technology, offer higher levels of transparency and company records. The transparency associated with crypto IPOs may increase investors’ trust and credibility.

Risks Associated With Crypto IPOs

Regulatory Uncertainty

The crypto market faces uncertain and evolving regulatory landscapes across different jurisdictions, posing risks related to compliance and future legality of operations specific to the crypto IPO.

Market Volatility

The cryptocurrency market is known for high volatility, which may lead to significant price swings for crypto IPOs, affecting the value of investments more unpredictably than traditional markets.

Technology And Security Risks

Crypto IPOs depend on the underlying blockchain technology, which poses risks related to technical failures, cybersecurity threats, and the potential for rapid obsolescence in a fast-paced blockchain tech environment.

Are IPOs A Good Investment?

IPOs in the cryptocurrency domain are a good investment opportunity. Investors may pick a good IPO if thorough due diligence and research are carried out. Assessing the company’s business model, market potential, financial health, and the management team’s track record. 

When investors meticulously evaluate all factors that can dampen the investment, investors will make better and more informed decisions to identify promising IPOs that align with their investment goals and risk tolerance.

Conclusion

By understanding the nature of crypto IPOs, investors can benefit from lucrative opportunities currently available in the crypto market. Before investing in a crypto IPO, investors should analyze the financial statements of the crypto company, taking into account the working of financial ratios that assess a company’s health and necessary legal due diligence. 

Crypto IPO investing is a likely method to invest in groundbreaking technology with high growth potential, yet it requires a careful approach, balancing potential rewards with the unique risks inherent in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector.

FAQs

What sets Crypto IPOs apart from traditional IPOs?

Crypto IPOs differ from traditional IPOs because crypto IPOs focus on blockchain technology and typically involve companies related to cryptocurrency, mining, and blockchain services. Crypto IPOs face a unique and evolving regulatory environment known for market volatility and technological risks.

How can I assess a Crypto IPO’s financial health?

Analyze the company’s financial statements, focusing on ratios like Price-to-Sales, Net Asset Value per Share, and Current Ratio. These metrics provide insights into the company’s revenue potential, underlying value, and short-term financial stability.

What should be considered during the due diligence process of a Crypto IPO?

Due diligence involves understanding the company’s legal standing, regulatory compliance, financial health, market reputation, and strategy for growth. Understanding how the company plans to use the raised funds is also vital.

Are Crypto IPOs a good investment choice?

Crypto IPOs offer significant investment opportunities surrounding innovative technology with high growth potential. However, crypto IPOs require thorough research and risk assessment due to the volatile and speculative nature of crypto IPOs and unique regulatory and technological challenges.

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