CoinDesk first published Bitcoin-related content in May 2013. The website, launched by Spotify angel investor Shakil Khan, came to fruition in just four weeks.
“I was just sitting there and I literally had five e-mails that day from very seasoned entrepreneurs asking me, ‘What do you know about Bitcoin?’” said Khan. “There’s a lack of transparent information. Where do you go to read what’s right or wrong?” said Khan at the time. Despite his website launch, Kahn insisted he was not getting into the media business. He called Bitcoin Magazine at the time too technical for a larger audience.
“CoinDesk, Bitcoins and digital currencies are way, way more than a hobby for me,” he said. Two-and-a-half-years later, CoinDesk was acquired by Digital Currency Group (DCG) for an undisclosed amount, although unconfirmed estimates place the price at $500,000-$600,000.
Ryan Selkis, Director of Growth at Digital Currency Group, has a long history in the Bitcoin community. When the bedraggled exchange Mt. Gox faced bankruptcy, Selkis (then known as 2BitIdiot) came across a document, entitled the “Crisis Strategy Draft”, and leaked it online. The document detailed Mt. Gox’s plan to shut the website down, rebuild and rebrand it to Gox.com. The document detailed a theft of 744,000 BTC. Mt. Gox was insolvent. Selkis received flak for the decision to go public with the details.
During this time he was known as TwoBitIdiot in the Bitcoin community. His provocative style quickly made waves. Today, he assumes a more business-like approach to an industry he believes is on the cutting edge of Fintech.
Digital Currency Group is a business that invests, builds and incubates Bitcoin and blockchain technology companies from its offices in New York. Its subsidiaries include Grayscale, Genesis Trading, and, as of this month, CoinDesk, the digital currency news platform.
DCG’s portfolio of seed investments include many of the Bitcoin and blockchain industries’ earliest leaders, such as Coinbase, BitPay, Circle and Xapo. CoinDesk, an early leader in Bitcoin and blockchain related media, joins the group and will now command DCG’s focus to promote a smooth transition.
“The first order of business for us will be to ensure the investment into and growth of CoinDesk as our newest subsidiary,” Selkis revealed to CCN. “As well, to make sure we integrate fully with them and have a great Consensus Conference in May.” Selkis, who currently works full-time with CoinDesk, has history with CoinDesk – DCG had been an investor in the company before the acquisition.
“We’ve had the chance to watch their platform grow, watch the quality of content improve on the website, and watch the company maintain its lead as the a leader in Bitcoin and block chain media,” he said.
Selkis is excited for new CoinDesk products, such as the Consensus conference, which boasted Citi Ventures as a sponsor. CoinDesk’s reports have also proven a successful product.
“The last report they produced has been the most successful to date,” Selkis imparted. “When we considered the acquisition this Fall, it was on the heels of not only the businesses most successful research reports, but also a well-received conference, and continued leadership in terms of page views and shares and overall quality of content across the board.” CoinDesk’s team will be kept intact with added investment in content and new business directions.
According to Selkis, CoinDesk will seek to serve as an information outlet for those interested in Bitcoin and blockchain technologies. It will seek to be a site for newcomers, executives, technology giants and financial institutions to visit regularly.
DCG does not plan to change the nature of CoinDesk’s content ranging from Bitcoin technology to new protocols like Ethereum.
“We want the team to continue to follow all the top stories across the board, whether they happen to be more focused on financial applications or non-financial applications is really gonna be less of a function of what the editorial direction is and how the industry has evolved and what are the current top projects that are being developed in New York and beyond,” he elucidated. Selkis is particularly excited about Consensus, CoinDesk’s conference.
“We wanted to create a summit with carefully curated content and specific target audience of Wall Street Executives and executives in some of the larger tech-giants which include the likes of IBM, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, many of the groups that were in attendance in the fall,” he said. “I think we really would like this to be a rallying point for groups internationally to organize their own events. We have groups that are focused on public policy, smaller technology summits with whom we’re already in discussion to organize their own events around this Consensus 2016 in May.” Selkis says DCG strives to “pick up where CoinSummit and the Bitcoin Foundation left off.” He says he knows the formula to do that.
“To do that, we want a multi-day event catering to executives, investors and leaders from across this industry and to do it only on an annual basis or a semi-annual basis,” he said. “That way we’re not diluting the brand.” Such events are common across industries.
“Most people want at least one annual meeting leaders for the Bitcoin and block chain industry with leaders from the financial community, the investment community, the policy community, and academia,” Selkis explained.
DCG first considered the acquisition of CoinDesk in the late Fall after the company had a profitable first Consensus and published the best-selling research report.
“I think CoinDesk had its best performance in terms of page views in the better part of a year,” he said. “It has been a very healthy media business during its entire tenure.” Selkis highlights the “healthy rolodex of freelance contributors” who will continue CoinDesk’s growth.
Image from Coindesk.