A number of early investors and executives have reportedly sold large amounts of their Coinbase shareholdings shortly after COIN was listed on stock trading platforms last week. Citing “insider activity reports,” CoinTelegraph reported on Saturday that multiple executives “sold a high percentage of their stake” in Coinbase. However, a representative of the company told the publication that the sellers “maintain strong ownership positions.”
According to data from Capital Market Laboratories (data that was later confirmed by filings on Coinbase’s Investor Relations website), insiders have sold some 12,965,079 shares, collectively worth over $4.6 billion at COIN’s $344.38 per share at the close on Friday.
According to CoinTelegraph, some of the larger sales include Coinbase CFO, Alessia Haas selling 255,500 COIN shares at a price of $388.73 (roughly 15% of her holdings). CEO Brian Armstrong sold 749,999 shares (less than 2% of his holdings) in three separate transactions, bringing in a total of $291,827,966. After the sales, Armstrong still holds 300,001 shares valued at more than $1 billion.
A number of voices in the cryptocurrency community have criticized the way in which the sale of the shares was covered. Specifically, that headlines seemed to emphasize the number of shares or the amount that they sold for, but not the percentage of holdings they represented.
Meanwhile, a spreadsheet claiming that a number of Coinbase execs had sold upwards of 60% of their shares made the rounds on Twitter. The image of the spreadsheet, which reportedly originated on Derek Coatney’s Twitter account, was shared by none other than Peter Schiff, renowned crypto critic and Bitcoin bear.
“On the same day #Coinbase CEO @brian_armstrong was on @CNBC publicly pumping COIN, he was privately dumping 71% of his shares. Other insiders selling included the Pres., CAO, CPO and CFO who dumped 63%, 86%, 97% and 100%, respectively. Additionally, Union Square Venture fund dumped 100%,” Schiff wrote.
However, the figures were later proven to be inaccurate. Frank Chapparo, Director of News at The Block, Tweeted earlier today that according to The Block’s research, “Coinbase’s largest shareholders did not sell the vast majority of their $COIN stock last week.”
Instead, “CFO Alesia Haas sold ~15% of total holdings, CPO Surojit Chatterjee sold ~8%, COO Emilie Choi sold ~24%, [and] CEO Brian Armstrong sold less than 2%.”
“It should not come as a surprise to the market that executives sold stocks,” Frank Chaparro and Ryan Todd wrote in a report for The Block. “In a direct listing, there is no offering of shares like there is in a traditional initial public offering. As such, the sale of existing stocks by shareholders ensures there’s enough supply for a direct listing to execute.”
Additionally, Changpeng Zhao, Chief Executive of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, showed support for Armstrong on Twitter: “just saw this after my previous post. I am not against people cashing out. It’s their right and choice. Brian worked hard for 9 years, and built a path for others to follow, and a milestone for the industry. Kudos!”
However, some crypto community members are unsatisfied. Twitter user @parlenicjj wrote in response to Frank Chapparo’s tweet: “Keyword ‘sold’, not ‘buy.’ That’s all that matters (sic).”