A retail brokerage veteran breaks down why crypto IPOs are good for bitcoin

Episode 30 of Season 2 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block’s Frank Chaparro and Voyager CEO Steve Ehrlich.

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Voyager CEO Steve Ehrlich took his crypto brokerage firm public in February of last year in a somewhat unorthodox fashion. Now, Ehrlich says he's taking a lot of phone calls from crypto firms looking to do the same.

During this week's episode of The Scoop, Ehrlich broke down what he shares on those calls. Voyager conducted its initial public offering (IPO) through a reverse merger, listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange and trading in over-the-counter (OTC) markets. While an IPO calls for extensive regulatory filings and investment bank backing, a reverse merger sees private company investors acquire shares of a public but inactive corporation. In Voyager's case, it acquired the shell company UC Resources Ltd., which was publicly listed on the Canadian TSX Venture Exchange.

Voyager was an early addition to the IPO party, though Mike Novogratz's Galaxy Digital had already gone public on TSX in August 2018. Now, there's growing interest in crypto IPOs, with rumblings of Coinbase and BlockFi looking to take the plunge. While crypto touts transparency, IPOs put a firm's inner workings on display, opening the door for merger and acquisition activity, according to Ehrlich.

"You go public and it's right there in front of everybody: what you're worth, what your stock's worth, the financials of the company, the metrics of your company. It's there and it's a currency now to go make acquisitions," he said.

Ehrlich discussed the different approaches to crypto IPOs and which firms are right for which routes on This Week's episode. He also discussed:

  • How his early days at E*Trade prepared him for the current retail mania, and how 2020 parallels the late 90s
  • What Coinbase needs to consider before it makes moves to go public
  • Why the current brokerage rush won't end well for most
  • To what degree the fintech space is looking to leverage crypto and why it means widespread adoption is coming — just on a longer timeline.

Listen to this week's episode on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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